Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Chariot Music Festival on Swan's Island

The cover of the program our first visit on Bob DeFeyter's boat August 1999
Gigi took these first 4 pictures, so I'm in them!

That's (from left) Kathy, Brenda, myself, Scott and Tom

Three of the ladies; Brenda, myself and Kathy

Scott and I relaxing on "Jumbie"'

There is lots of traffic on the water, here a lobster boat

The lighthouse at the entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor

The small community at Swan's Island

A schooner drops anchor for the night

Not all sailboats are big

Kathy and Brenda keeping watch for the Sea Shanty boat

Brenda on a high perch

And here it comes around the schooner (on the right)

Tom (Kathy's husband) joins the ladies

It feels like a regatta

Now Brenda, Gigi and Kathy pose

All our waving and singing finally paid off

And we get a somewhat private concert

I snuck in a photo at the beginning of the show (no flash)

From Buck's Harbor we motored down to Swan's Island and Burnt Coat Harbor (interesting name but I can't find a reason for it) to attend the Swan's Island Music Festival. Scott and I have come three times before; once over 10 years ago with Bob DeFeyter on his boat, and twice on our own boat in 2004 and 2005. Along with our friends Brenda and John aboard "Willow", their friends Kathy & Tom on "Jumby" and Gigi & Tom on "Sapphire" joined us. This was the 25th anniversary of the festival. It was started by Doug Day in his barn after being inspired by the last Fox Hollow Festival and the first Mystic Seaport Music Festival. Buckley Smith, a well known painter in Maine, paints a mural sized canvas behind the stage each year. There are at least 30 musicians each season and they perform 3 nights (they added a fourth this year) and 2 afternoons (around 4 -5pm) sessions on a boat motoring around the harbor. It is always the first week in August and mid week. Check out their website ( There is no accommodations on the island and the ferry doesn't operate at night so the audience either lives on the island or comes in their boats (or the schooners). Some of the musicians this year were Annegret Baier, Suzy Williams, Ann Randolph, Moira Smiley, Geoff Kaufman, Daisy Nell, The Backboners, Lisa Redfern, Jennifer Armstrong and Ritt Henn. The concerts are now held in the Town Hall upstairs while downstairs the performers meet everyone, sell CDs and there are refreshments. The concerts are sold out every time, but occasionally you can get a last minute ticket. This year we bought ours in advance, but Gigi and Tom managed to get last minute ones on the second night. The Backboners were playing as we were seated each night and then at 7:30 Jennifer Armstrong led the entire singing company in with the bagpipes. At the end each night there is ensemble singing as well. A number of the performers encourage audience participation too. There is acoustic music, plugged in, and a cappella. Annegret is an amazing West African drummer. In short there's a big variety and a different line up each night. Walking back in the pitch black through the quiet streets along the harbor is a special treat, and luckily we had two crystal clear nights. This is a very special event and place. We'll be back again.

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