Never Turn a Blind Eye to the Storm

Track Notes

Never Turn a Blind Eye to the Storm – I based this song largely on the testimony provided at the 2013 Coast Guard inquiry into the sinking of the tall-ship Bounty back in October of 2012. I think this message needs to be sent out to our friends in the tall-ship community, to help ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again. My heart goes out to the crew-members who sadly trusted Capt. Walbridge with their lives. Jeff Logan provides harmony and guitar on this song.

Ballad of the BolivarThis song I've adapted from a poem by Rudyard Kipling, using the traditional contra-dance tune Waiting for Nancy. Kipling composed it in response to a number of sinkings in which the owners were suspected of deliberately overloading their old cargo boats so as to collect the insurance. In this case the sailors survive! Pam Weeks provides fiddle and guitar on this song.

Wreck of the Norfolk Express – Ever since I saw a vintage photo of this rail/sail wreck I knew I'd have to compose a song. The tune is obviously inspired by The Tennessee Stud. Almost everyone, except for the brave engineer, survives in this tale. Jeff Logan provides guitar on this song.

Natchez and Delta Queen Race – This song is a tribute to the steamboat Natchez, based in New Orleans, which has raced and beat the Delta Queen many times. The tune is based on the old blues song Stagger Lee. My wife and I got to take an evening cruise aboard the Natchez in 2014. The Delta Queen is now being rebuilt in New Orleans and they hope to finally beat the Natchez. Good luck! Jeff Logan provides guitar on this song.

Rhyme of Charon the Ferryman – Charon was the ferryman of the dead, carrying departed spirits across the River Styx, a waterway which reputedly separated the world of the living and the world of the dead. I was inspired to compose this song after seeing a painting by Jose Benlliure y Gil. The tune is after the traditional Mrs. McGrath. Jeff Logan provides guitar on this song.

High Noon in the Tropics – My friend Mike Kennedy set this Cicely Fox Smith poem to music and has graciously permitted me to record it. Here the old sailor steps into a nautical junk shop and is once again transported to the sailing days of his youth. Alison Lee Freeman provides harmony on this song.

Old Ship Riggers – The Canadian poet Hiram A. Cody also composed The Figurehead Carver which Dick Swain adapted for singing. This poem is Cody's tribute to another bunch of shipyard workers, the ones who rigged the tall ships. The sprightly tune is from my old Southern Appalachian friend Obray Ramsey, from his song The French Broad River. Judy Barrows provides guitar on this song.

Battle between the Enterprise and the Boxer – I composed this ballad for the 200th anniversary of the battle between these two warships in the War of 1812. The tune is a traditional nautical one. After the battle both captains were brought back to Portland, Maine, and buried together in the Eastern Cemetery at the foot of Munjoy Hill.

Day of Little Ships – This poem was composed by Cicely Fox Smith in tribute to the "little ships" which played such a major role in the successful evacuation of over 333,000 Allied soldiers from Dunkirk, France, during World War 2 in 1940. I've adapted it for singing, using a couple of traditional tunes, On My Journey Home for the verse and Nonesuch for the chorus. Pam Weeks provides fiddle on this song.

Three Kitties Set Out to Sea – This song started out as a lullaby to comfort our kitties when I was driving them home from the veterinarian. By the time I was home I had several verses. Several weeks later I had an illustrated children's songbook of the same title. The song is dedicated to our two kitties Tejitu and Tilahun whose pirate names respectively are Calico Jack and Coal Black Rose; the third kitty is Grendel, who belonged to my mother, whose pirate name is Captain Kitt.

Seven Subs of SevernThis drinking song was inspired by a vintage photograph of our first sub-tender the USS Severn and her flotilla of little submarines from around 1910. Thanks again to Mark Lisicky for his encouragement. The tune is from a traditional logging song Jump-Her-Juba-Ju. "NUB" is old Navy submariner slang meaning "Non Useful Body."

Rogue Time-Police – This one is hardly a nautical song but more of a song from the Twilight Zone. It's the outgrowth of a parody competition based on the song Poncho and Lefty which was started many years ago on the Mudcat Forum by my friend Amos Jessup. My friend Mark Lisicky on another forum later inspired me to complete the song, depicting the tragic death of one "Charley Noble." Jeff Logan provides guitar on this song.

Nile is a River – This song began as a joke among friends and then developed into a sad but romantic song that stands on its own. The tune is based on the traditional Cherry Tree Carol. My mother should be credited for the line in which Cleopatra "drops pearls into my wine." There's a lot that's left to the imagination in this song. Alison Lee Freeman provides harmony and Judy Barrows provides guitar on this song.

Christmas Night – Here we have the sailors in desperate battle with a major gale on Christmas Night, and despite the danger they all survive. Again the song is based on a poem by Cicely Fox Smith as adapted for singing by myself. The tune is largely based on the traditional Christmas carol There Were Three Ships.

Life's Journey – This is a special song I composed dedicated to my niece Heather Barrows who graduated from law school in 2015. I'm not sure where the tune came from. Hopefully this ditty will help inspire her to a successful career within the justice community.

The Chanteyman – Here we have a final Cicely Fox Smith sea poem that I've adapted for singing to complete this album. Though the poem was never published during the poet's lifetime I think it makes a fine closing song. Once again we have an old sailor who this time hears the sounds of a sea shanty in the wind, which reminds him of his former life on the ocean, and the loss of his old ship and his shipmates so long ago. Alison Lee Freeman and Jeff Logan provide harmony and guitar on this song.

- Charlie Ipcar, December 2015

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