As part of their “Song & Drink” series, local choral group whateverandeveramen are hosting two shows at Earnest Brew Works’ downtown Toledo location on May 21 and 22. Each performance will revolve around a setlist of “sea shanties,” songs that make you feel like a pirate, singing with your shipmates.
There’s more to sea shanties than visions of Captain Hook walking the plank, according to Brad Pierson, whateverandevermen Founder and Artistic Director. “When people hear the term ‘sea shanties’ there is a tendency to picture pirates and things being a bit silly, or – thanks to TikTok, maybe people are familiar with “Wellerman.” However, sea shanties are actually really diverse. Yes, there are some that are silly (What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor), and some that are a little crass (All for Me Grog), but there are also some really gorgeous melodies (Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her)”.
Pierson adds “with sea shanties every song we do will be a singalong. You don’t need to know anything about music to join in. We teach you all the words during the event. So we all share a few pints and sing some songs together. It is a really special and unique thing to come together with sixty strangers in a bar and to make music together.”
Along with the shanties, whateverandeveramen. will be performing other traditional drinking songs. To Pierson, the whole evening is an excuse to have a few drinks with friends, make a little noise and be part of a community.
whateverandeveramen. was formed in 2012 in Seattle when Pierson was a graduate student at the University of Washington. Looking to create a project-based ensemble that he could continue when he left Seattle, Pierson sought opportunities for doing non-traditional choral events while working with friends. This group has since provided Pierson with an opportunity to explore a variety of projects. (Pierson moved to Toledo in 2015 to lead the choral program in the Department of Music at the University of Toledo.)
A project based group, singers are hired per event based on location and the requirements of the music. There have been as few as four singers and as many as twenty four. What sets whateverandeveramen. apart from other vocal/choral groups, Pierson explains, “I think the thing that makes me most proud of this ensemble is the sense of community we have been able to build through our events. So often in the world of ‘classical music,’ performances are just that – a performance. There can be a strong dichotomy between audience and performer, and that can come with a certain sense of pretension. I have always believed that it is important for choral music, and classical music more broadly, to find ways to make our audience feel more like members of a community than spectators. I didn’t set out expecting that our Song & Drink events would become our primary type of event, but they are so conducive to building community. They are a bit more casual than your traditional choral performance, but we also encourage people to participate in a variety of ways, primarily by singing along.”
25 S. St Clair St., Toledo. 419-318-8344. Sunday, May 21 at 6pm and Monday, May 22 at 6:30pm. $20. Tickets, which include entry to the event and a pint of EBW’s craft beer, are available at whateverchoir.org/schedule.