“Any one who thinks sea music means Haul Away Joe sung slightly off key to the reedy strains of a concertina is in for a revelation when William Pint & Felicia Dale hoist sail and set their course…
With vocals and guitar, mandola, Irish pennywhistles, percussion and the exotic sounds of the vielle-à-roue or hurdy gurdy, the Seattle duo William Pint & Felicia Dale bring an energetic and contemporary spirit to their material.
Drawing on several cultures, Pint and Dale perform traditional and modern music and songs reflecting the immense vitality of those who live and work on the sea. Their music fits into the world of modern folk, rock and popular song, but it's rich with the myth, narrative, rhythm, rhyme and lyric associated with the days of the tall ships.
Felicia Dale grew up in an environment steeped in the traditional lore of the sea. Born on New Year's Day 1958 and raised on Vashon Island in Washington State's Puget Sound, she spent her childhood sailing Northwest coastal waters and cruising Canada's “inside passage.” Her father was a sea captain who brought back tales and treasures from exotic ports of call. Her mother is a transplanted Parisian; Dale learned French as her first language and acquired a lifelong love for the songs of the French seafaring tradition.
Felicia's first musical venture was a duet act with Waterbug recording artist Kat Eggleston when they were both sixteen.
Her exposure to the vielle-à-roue or hurdy-gurdy was first through several Seattle area players and then from a performance by the French group Cabistan while on tour at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. Upon her return to Seattle she immediatley commisioned an instrument from California luthier Michael Hubbert.
Felicia’s striking vocal harmonies are matched by her creative use of the hurdy-gurdy and Irish pennywhistles, taking these traditional instruments far beyond their usual roles as she blends them into the texture of a song or departs on improvisational romps with equal ease.
William Pint, born December 20th, 1953, was led astray into the folk world in 1970. He was wooed away from his early rock and roll influences (The Who, The Kinks, and The Beatles) by the folk/rock sounds of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. This led to a growing interest in the more traditional, less electric music of such artists as Martin Carthy, John Renbourn, The Chieftains and the eclectic songs of the Incredible String Band.
In 1977 he headed west to escape the cold Wisconsin winters of his native Milwaukee and to pursue music. The salt air of Puget Sound and the rich, seafaring history of the Pacific Northwest soon led him to explore the song and lore of the deepwater sailors. With his band Morrigan he recorded an album of Irish tunes and nautical songs “By Land or By Sea,” for Folkways Records in 1979. Along with composer Paul Ely Smith and Robert Kotta in the group Ellipsis, he investigated the unusual combination of minimalist, folk and classical music. Flying Fish Records released their 1984 self-titled recording produced by Mícheál Ó Dhomhnàill. The same trio also performed and recorded as Copperfield, a popular Northwest band specializing in British Isles and Celtic music. The trio opened concerts for Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy, Silly Wizard, John Renbourn, David Bromberg and others.
In performance, William Pint’s emotionally expressive singing is complemented by his powerful guitar and mandola work with which he can supply settings of great delicacy or wild, driving rhythms.
Pint and Dale have won an ardent following across the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands with their recordings and appearances at festivals and concerts.
They have recorded eight albums, the independently released CDs “ Port of Dreams” and “Making Waves,” and Waterbug label releases, “Hearts of Gold,” “Round the Corner,” “When I See Winter Return,” “Hartwell Horn ,” “White Horses," and "Seven Seas ”
Pint and Dale gather together material from many locales and cultures including the West Indies, Wales and Brittany. No dead tradition, seafaring music is very much alive in the hands of William Pint & Felicia Dale, and in the daily lives of people still dedicated to sailing tall ships in the 21st Century.”
Review: Northwich Folk Club, Northwich, England
"William Pint & Felicia Dale gave us a wonderful evening's entertainment with powerful songs, poignant songs and humorous songs, with great harmony singing and well worked out accompaniment on guitar and hurdy-gurdy. From the opening "John Riley" and the storming "One More Day" to the gentle but heart-rending "Beaches of Leukannon", there was quality in everything they did. "
Review: White Horses
There's tremendous power in the old sea chanteys of the British Isles and North American coast. They had to be strong songs, to energize the sailors doing hard work under difficult conditions in the age of sail. And few modern interpreters of sea chanteys capture their spirit and energy as well as the Seattle-area duo of William Pint and Felicia Dale. White Horses, their sixth album, is another choice collection of very contemporary arrangements of mostly traditional material.
This duo is equally comfortable in acoustic and electric modes, with the former predominating on this disc. They sing strong, clear harmonies, often multiplied by overdubbing, and, in addition to Pint's steady guitar accompaniment, their sound is defined by Dale's squalling hurdy-gurdy, an unconventional sound in sea music but a wonderful adaptation of one tradition to another.
They're not afraid to rework old songs to find new colors in them. "Cape Cod Girls" get a propulsive, syncopated new melody, and "Johnny Todd" is slowed way down to bring out the loneliness in the broken romance behind the lyric.
They add bass, drums and amplification for two of the disc's best tracks, all-out folk-rock arrangements of the chanteys "One More Day" (which takes quite literally the repeating line "rock and roll me over, boys") and "Leave Her Johnny," both with awesomely singable choruses. On the other hand, the powerful "Bring 'Em Down" and "Across the Western Ocean" are sung unaccompanied, with the duo's voices overdubbed into a hearty chorus.
The title track of White Horses is a wishful, uplifting song about hopes and dreams written by Brian Bedford of the English trio Artisan. Dale also employs her hurdy-gurdy to good effect on the sort of dance music for which the machine was designed, on a Breton tunes that's paired with a French whaling chantey and on a pair of borrowed Irish hornpipes.
Listen to this one with a view of the ocean if you can, and if not, be assured you'll be transported there by some of the best saltwater music you can find.
-Tom Nelligan (Waltham, MA)
Dirty Linen magazine