Welcome to The Mariners!
What are we anyway? You saw us at a parade, a concert or online somewhere… and thought… what the hell?!
We are a moveable musical feast, a life-affirming spectacle of street theater and a brotherhood of social musical excellence.
In days of long ago – indeed all human history – when we hairless mammals desired the joy of music, there were no options other than to make it for ourselves and to surround ourselves with other talented and like-minded individuals. This is The Mariners: once the fire is kindled to feed and sustain us, to ward off the darkness and the cold, it’s time for the stories and music and the joy that they bring.
Only since the advent of recording technology has it become possible to partake of this most basic of human joys without being social. The way most of us have grown up, with music from the world over played by expert people we’ll likely never meet, available at the push of a button in the silence and privacy of our rooms and cars, is the anomaly here. The Mariners believe we are all very much the poorer culturally and individually for this wealth that allows us to not grow up and spend our days playing and striving to express the music in our hearts.
The Mariners are indeed special – a wide ranging group of men who have been drawn to, and held together by, this four-fold anachronism:
- Our instruments are modern evolutions of drums and fifes that would be recognizable and playable to someone 200 years ago
- Our simple, functional dress is modeled on that of an American Colonial Sailor. Really, we’re wearing long shorts and short sleeve shirts, with a wool jumper thrown in for early and late season comfort!
- Our music is a wide-ranging mix of traditional tunes alongside modern compositions by many of the best minds writing for these instruments.
- Our joy of being together and making music for ourselves and asking for the audience to join in our musical good time.
So if you love or suspect you love a musical good time, you should come check us out. You will meet people here who are not like you, with different backgrounds, different dreams and experiences. You will find yourself and your preconceptions challenged. I like to say that the lowest common denominator of the Mariners is pretty effing low… but if you give these guys a chance, every single one of them can knock your socks off… with unexpected talent, kindness, generosity and shared humanity.
What does “joining” entail you ask? We strive to be a social and musical brotherhood modeled on the traditional culture of deep water sailors the world over. A greenhorn joins a sailing ship and through months and voyages progresses to “learn the ropes,” finally becoming a “shellback” having met and “Crossed the Line” before King Neptune. Just informationally, it is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. So our process is designed to respect that tradition where prospective members gain an appreciation for all the years, music and Mariners that have come before.
In practice, you’d come around to rehearsals and parades, share who you are, what you can do… who you want to be, what you want to do… And if that is going well, you apply to become a “pollywog.” This involves giving us your contact information and getting a current member to serve as your “sponsor,” a guide and mentor through the process. You’d cobble together a uniform, learn the music or join the “boarding party” more affectionately known as the cannon crew and flag lines.
This pollywog status is a probationary period where you get to know the Mariners and vice versa. You’ll be asked to help out with the less glamorous side of what we do as well as the glory – to do the work and just be generally useful with the things that keep our disorganization functioning. Setting up tents for musters, hauling parade gear before and after gigs, cleaning up before and after parties and quite importantly, toting refreshing beverages.
This is at least a “fife and drum season” long and there’s no commitment and no hard feelings either way. If you love it, there will be the “Crossing the Line Ceremony” at the finish line, a modern day reenactment of the tradition and a rite of passage of which too few remain in the world.
There’s too much to cover in a short post like this- and honestly even your “pollywog” year only scratches the surface of where a lifetime of being a Mariner will take you and what it means to each of us. But if you’ve felt the stirrings in some part of you seeing and hearing the Mariners do their thing, we encourage you to give that feeling some space to grow and come and meet the men who will all agree that it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made.