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Greg Marquis, Rick Clark, Dale Peters, Paul-Emile Chiasson, Jim Stephenson, Gary Caines, Roland D'Abadie and Bob Burgess ( new member John Martin )

Before the Mast

Before the Mast sings sea shanties once sung by sea-washed, underfed, dog-tired sailors as they hauled with raw hands on frozen lines, heaved on capstan bars or manned pumps aboard wooden ships. These shanties are salty and rhythmical in nature and are sung with the vigour that these remarkable work-songs of the sea demand.

Before the Mast is a sea shanty group based in Saint John, New Brunswick, which was once a major shipbuilding centre and whose tall ships routinely sailed to every major port in the world during the Age of Sail. The men of the group sing to entertain, to introduce audiences to the amazing richness and vitality of shipboard work songs and to celebrate our rich and storied maritime heritage. Shanties were of necessity sung without instrumental accompaniment and so are sung 'a cappella'. 

Before the Mast is proud of the fact that its CD 'Rolling Down' received an East Coast Music Association nomination in the Roots/Traditional category in 2012.  Last year Before the Mast released its new CD 'Hand Over Hand'. Its live tracks, recorded in a variety of venues, capture the energy of actual performances, as well as the compelling and often unique harmonies created by a group of men who love to sing together.


"Sailors, when heaving at a windlass, in order that they may heave together, always have one sing out, which is done in high and long-drawn tones, varying with the motion of the windlass. This requires a clear voice, strong lungs and much practice, to be done well."
- Richard Henry Dana, Jr., 'Two Years Before the Mast

The name 'Before the Mast' refers to the fact that ordinary sailors were berthed uncomfortably in the forecastle (fo'c'sle or fo'c's'le) which was forward of the foremast or 'before the mast'. Formed in 2007, the group has performed hundreds of times throughout the east coast in venues as diverse as museums, tall ships, church halls, Masonic lodges, folk festivals, parks, historic inns, a Martello tower and a sea captains' re-enactment dinner.

Our concerts are a unique mix of 'a cappella' harmonies, stories and lively interactions that connect with audiences of all ages.

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