Arts and Entertainment

Shifty sailors sent off to Czech Republic

Whidbey Island’s Shifty Sailors sing at a recent concert.  - Courtesy photo
Whidbey Island’s Shifty Sailors sing at a recent concert.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Come on out to Coupeville’s Rec Hall at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 5 and help send the Shifty Sailors on their way to Prague, Czech Republic, to share their songs with other international shanty groups.

Tickets are $15 at the door or $10 in advance at Wind & Tide Books in Oak Harbor, Bayleaf in Coupeville, BookBay in Freeland and Moonraker in Langley. Kids get in for $5. A nautical-related silent auction will also be held.

You will get a chance to hear some of the selections rehearsed for this occasion. In addition to Prague, the group will spend several days in Cesky Krumlov, a small town near the Austrian border.

Fifteen members of Whidbey’s Shifty Sailors will be traveling in two weeks to Prague as the first American shanty group invited to participate in the Prague International Shanty Fest. The venues for the festival are located in three Prague locations: the first is in Prague’s Old Town Square; the second in the Vallenstein Gardens of Prague Castle, and the third is in Wenceslas Square.

They will join eight other shanty groups representing Germany, Holland, Finland and New Zealand. This will be the fourth time the Shifty Sailors have traveled abroad as Music Ambassadors of Whidbey Island.

The Shifties are not just a shanty group. They sing a wide variety of nautical songs including songs about shipwrecks, lighthouses, rivers, unrequited love, fishing, whaling, the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.

The Shifty Sailors have been together for 17 years and have sung in festivals in Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ireland, Wales, England and France. They also have toured the seaports of New England and were the headliners for a Whale Festival in Hawaii.

Their main mission, through song, is to help the surrounding maritime communities understand their own nautical history. They do this by singing at festivals, senior centers, schools and other venues, and they might even visit a pub or two. With well over 100 songs in their repertoire, the Shifty Sailors have now recorded many of these selections on five CDs.

Their fourth CD (“H is for aHoy”) is a children’s CD and was recorded with 49 fourth and fifth graders from Whidbey Island. Their latest CD (“Hail to the Whale”) is the first CD completely about the history of whaling and saving the whales.

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