Mid-week in the week of August 3, many of the windjammers in the Maine Windjammer Association Fleet will sail to Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan's Island for the annual Sweet Chariot Music and Arts Festival. The festival features more than a dozen musical groups, duets, trios, and soloists, and an eclectic mix of sounds including sea chanteys, folk, blues, steel drum bands, jazz, and gospel; with some hilarious story-telling rounding out a program of folksy charm and good ol' time fun. The music and arts festival has drawn artists, musicians, songwriters, activists, groupies—and windjammers—from across the nation to quaint Swan's Island in Penobscot Bay for the last twenty years or so. The rollicking concerts have become so popular that the high-spirited groups of performers have begun to tour to other parts of the country; this June marked the sixth appearance in Boston of Sweet Chariot South—South of Maine, that is!
The American Eagle, the Angelique, the Heritage, the Lewis R. French, the Mary Day, and the Nathaniel Bowditch will be sailing to Swan's Island that week for an afternoon and evening of music; guests aboard will be provided tickets to one of the usually sold-out concerts, which are scheduled Tuesday, August 4th through Thursday, August 6th. In addition to the evening concerts on shore, the festival includes a cast of harbor-touring troubadours; the windjammers will anchor in the harbor and enjoy being serenaded by sea-chantey warbling musicians sailing from one anchored vessel to another—it really is quite the musical fête!
The festival is a gathering of artists as well, and features well-known Maine artist Buckley Smith. For several years Buckley Smith has been the art director and set designer for The Sweet Chariot Music Festival; it is an event in itself to watch him create his signature Living Murals live, on stage, during the performances.
Windjammer guests are, as always, encouraged to bring their voices and their instruments when they sail. Music on deck to greet the deepening twilight, accompanied by the flickering light of old hurricane lanterns, is a schooner custom; frequently of an evening, the salty air of a calm and peaceful cove fills with the strains of melodic voices, the twang of a banjo, the sweet drone of bagpipes, or the rosined-rasp of a fiddle bow dancing double stops across cat-gut strings. Many of the windjammers attending the music festival will be gathering at a different anchorage on Friday evening where they will be joined by the other members of the fleet. The vessels will raft-up for what has become a favorite tradition of the Maine Windjammer Fleet: a schooner gam, for a windjammer music-and-story-telling festival all its own.
Join us when music fills the salty air—or any other time! Sailing schedules are available online, or you can request a packet of brochures from all 12 members. If you'd like to hear the sounds of Sweet Chariot, but will be sailing on another of the fleet's vessels that week—or the week following—there will be an opportunity for you to attend a performance as the music festival week begins to wind down with a concert at the Strand Theater in Rockland, on Saturday, August 8th, at 7:30.
[PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION]