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Sea Shanties event coming to Augusta Heritage Center Jan. 26

Insight to the biggest sensation on TikTok is coming to Augusta. “Sea Shanties: Adding Historical Context to the Hottest New TikTok Trend (+ singing along!)” will be presented on Facebook Live and via Zoom at 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 26.

The free event comes with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council. For a “front-row” Zoom seat, email augustaheritagecenter@dewv.edu for a link.

Musicians John Roberts and Chris Koldewey will lead a discussion about sea shanties, their place in history and current use, including the history behind the current viral TikTok collaborative video “Soon May the Wellerman Come.”

Dating back to the 19th century, sea shanties are work songs typically sung by sailors to help keep rhythm with their work and entertain themselves during long voyages.

Roberts was born and raised in Worcestershire, England, of a Welsh family. He is one of the foremost culture bearers of his genre, specializing in songs of the sea, pub songs and traditional British Isles folk songs. He is also considered one of the foremost Anglo concertina players in the English-speaking world and uses the banjo for unique settings in many of the songs he sings.

He can give the background of any song he performs, often telling the listener the circumstances from which it might have been written and from whom the song was collected. Roberts’s latest album is a collection of maritime songs titled “Sea Fever.”

Koldewey has been singing and playing folk music, and sea music in particular, since he was a teenager. He comes from a family rich in maritime traditions, and his lullabies as a child were traditional songs of the sea. Raised on the North Shore of Long Island, he was exposed to a wide variety of folk music. A public school music teacher by trade, Koldewey spends his “free time” as a Shantyman at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut: one of the few places left where shanties are used for their original purpose — coordinating shipboard tasks.

Throughout its history, the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College has fostered inspiration through total immersion in music, dance, and crafts; facilitated tangible connections to history and living traditions; and nurtured a community of artists who have shared their talents and values in a cooperative, supportive environment.

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