Before the Mast was formed in 2007 and since then has performed extensively in a variety of venues throughout eastern Canada. The group was especially pleased to be asked to sing at the Miramichi Folksong Festival for the past two summers. In addition, we have sung on board HMS Bounty when she was in St. Andrews, for the Martello Tower Music Series for the past four years and, two summers ago, Before the Mast had a very successful concert in the outdoor amphitheatre at Fundy National Park for Canada Day. The group is composed of nine men from a range of backgrounds who all reside in southern New Brunswick, Canada. We sing for our enjoyment, to create an appreciation for our rich Maritime heritage and to showcase the wonderful tradition of sailors singing shanties to create a rhythm and pulse for their work.
Before the Mast has an extensive repertoire that includes traditional halyard, short-haul and capstan shanties, a number of beautiful fo’c’s’le shanties, as well as a number of French and Acadian sea songs. We also often sing songs written by contemporary song writers such as Tom Lewis, Archie Fisher, Jim Stewart and Donat LaCroix. We strive for a clear, crisp, authentic sound with some rich harmonies. Establishing a close rapport with our audience, through words and song, is always important.
Music columnist Gerry Taylor wrote in the Telegraph-Journal:
"... the Saint John area's premier folk act Before the Mast makes shanties and other sea songs an art form. An a cappella group that varies the lead and harmony voices, Before the Mast pays homage to our maritime heritage....Before the Mast is just about as energetic as a traditional sea-song singing chorus can get without busting a barnacle. They’re witty too and wrapped-in-canvas entertainers all.....whose seafaring tales, fact and fiction, will astound you."
Long live songs of the sea !