By Aidan Johnson

Sea shanty singers from around the globe were called from the briny deep to perform at the 2nd annual Port Jefferson Sea Shanty & Maritime Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1. 

Performer Monti Babson of “Pirates at Large”

While the event was due to be held outside at Harborfront Park, it was moved to inside the Village Center due to inclement weather. Yet this was no issue for the singers, as they still gave delightful and entertaining performances.

Amy Tuttle, program director for the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council and creator of the festival, wanted to give sea shanty singers a place to share their talent. 

“Last year, there were some sea shanty singers from Mystic Seaport [Connecticut], and Mystic had discontinued their sea shanty [festival], so those shanty singers were distressed and sad that they had no place to play,” Tuttle shared. “And I said Port Jefferson has a very rich and interesting shipbuilding history — come here.”

Over a matter of a couple of months, GPJAC was able to put together the inaugural Port Jeff sea shanty festival. After seeing that the event was successful, the arts council decided to hold it annually.

Performers Bob Conroy and Bill Grau of “Stout”

Shanty singers came from afar to participate in the festival, including Connecticut, New Jersey and England. “They’ve come from all over to perform in this festival,” Tuttle said.

The performers aren’t the only ones excited about sea shanties. TikTok has thrown the genre into the spotlight amongst the youth, especially with the song “The Wellerman.” 

“I know during the pandemic it was a thing on TikTok, and a lot of the kids were experimenting with different things and writing their own music, which was fabulous,” Tuttle said. “We thought, how fun would it be to get some of the [original] singers to come and do sea shanties here.”

Many of the performers have had several decades of experience with sea shanties under their belt. Maria Fairchild started off playing the piano as a child before moving on to the guitar and eventually the banjo. She also has performed in multiple bands for more than 30 years. Adam Becherer, with whom Fairchild performed, grew up with the bluegrass scene in South Street Seaport in Manhattan thanks to his father being in a bluegrass band. 

Performers Adam Becherer and Maria Fairchild

Both Fairchild and Becherer feel an attraction toward folk music. “I like the history of it,” Fairchild said. “I also like that the melodies are … different from modern music, and there’s something really ancient that I’m attracted to.” Becherer added, “I love the collaborative nature of it. I love getting together with people who you don’t necessarily know, but there’s like a common language of tunes that people can get together and play.”

Despite the weather, the music festival went off without a hitch. Tuttle, along with GPJAC, is planning on having a tavern setting next year, in which people can learn how to sing and play the songs. 

Currently, the arts council is presenting its Port Jefferson Documentary Series, with screenings taking place throughout the fall. For more information, visit

— Photos by Aidan Johnson