Music and Dance Events

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ShantyGrass during a Jam Session

We believe that music has been embedded within the culture of every group of people since the beginning of time.  So, for Watermen, it is impossible to tell the story of their history, culture or their daily lives without telling part of that story through music.  To that end, we sponsor and provide many musical venues and events that help tell the story of music in early America through the modern era.  Of course, the list of types of music that relate to maritime people is as varied as the individual people themselves.

But, some of the musical activities you will see us engaged in include:

  • The ongoing performances of our own in-house band ShantyGrass – January through December
    • This band, made up of museum core staff and volunteer performers plays at approximately 30 performances per year at the Museum and at local area venues.  As their name implies, they perform Sea Shanties and Bluegrass, as well as Traditional and Modern Folk Music, Country and Light Rock.  (And, ShantyGrass is sometimes available to perform for private venues.  Contact the Museum to obtain contact info of their manager.)  To hear ShantyGrass, click on the YouTube Video Link of One of Their Performances .
  • Second Wednesday FREE Folk Jams – January through December
    • Our longest running musical activity (seven years and counting).  Beginning at 5:30 PM on the Second Wednesday of each month and running until 9 PM, we’ll go around the circle picking songs to sing and play together.  If you have an instrument, please bring it with you.  And, bring a small snack or a dish to share.  Donations are gladly accepted.  Click here for a video.
  • Third Monday Swing Dances – January through December
  • Friday Night Concerts – Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend
    • Tickets are typically $10.00, or a similar donation is requested, with proceeds after expenses benefiting the Museum.  Concert artists range from ShantyGrass, numerous international, national, and local solo and band performers, to full-size symphony orchestras playing Americana music.   In conjunction with the Concerts, we usually offer a meal of shrimp, crabs or other sea fare for a small fee.
  • Contra Dances – As Scheduled.
    • Join us on the wooden deck behind the Watermen’s Museum along the York River in Yorktown for an evening of dancing fun.  Tickets are typically $10.00, with all proceeds benefiting the Museum and TRADIN’ Contra Dance.
  • Concerts for the ARC of Greater Williamsburg
    • ShantyGrass and Museum staff and volunteers provide fun events for the ARC of Greater Williamsburg members and visitors on a regular basis. These activities include crafts, history lessons, cultural discussions, an much more.  We almost always include a bit of music during uot activities.  But, at least twice a year, we also offer a free concert/jam session with ARC members.  It is always a great evening of music, laughter, and fun with our dearest friends.  Seating is always at a premium.  So, please call in advance to find out if any seating remains.
  • Annual Folk Festival
    • Our Annual Folk Festival is the last weekend of September from 10 AM onward…as long as our performers and the village ordinances will allow us to play.  2014 was our 1st Annual performance.  And, each subsequent year promises to be bigger and better than the previous year.  As stated above, our view of Folk Music is that music which can be clearly defined as American…and is suitable for family entertainment. So be prepared for Sea Shanties, Bluegrass, Blues, Country, Soul, Pop, Light Rock, Jazz and many other genres

Donors Sought:  Something we would really like to do is for ShantyGrass to be able to record a few CDs.  These CDs would not only get the word out about our Museum, through the sounds of our fabulous band, they would also create a revenue stream (through our gift shop and possibly other area vendors) to help support Museum Programs.  If you know of a donor or donors that could make this a reality, please contact us.  (Here is a YouTube clip of ShantyGrass under the Tent. (Courtesy Chill Falls))