Four-man crew the Jolly Rogues entertained the crowd with their historical and Celtic sailor-themed tunes Monday afternoon in the Heineman Ecumenical Center. The group’s performance was a precursor to the freshman Common Reading event which happened on Tuesday in DPAC.
In their musical performance, the Jolly Rogues focused primarily on the life of the sailor. They sang songs such as “Old Maui,” which tells the tale of a group of sailors enjoying themselves in Hawaii after fishing in harsh Alaskan waters and “Greenland Whale Fishery,” a tune about a group of men who are put in a dangerous situation when trying to capture a harpooned whale. The Jolly Rogues never strayed away from their sailor theme. In addition, all four band members were dressed in sailor attire furthering the nautical, Celtic theme.
Jim Murray, the band’s founder, was on vocals and percussion, while Paul Harty also provided vocals and played guitar and harmonica. “The Fiddling Thomsons” father and son, Ryan and Brennish Thomson, also played their part. Brennish played the fiddle throughout the performance while Ryan not only sang, but also played an assortment of instruments ranging from the whistle to the accordion.
Harty explained to the crowd that the songs they sing originate between the 18th and 19th century.
One song, titled “Tis Advertised in Boston,” Harty said took place a short time after the events which occur in the freshman Common Reading Selection, “In the Heart of the Sea,” by Nathaniel Philbrick. Harty explained that the tune was about how a large number of sailors left the port of Nantucket after it became “silted” and headed to New Bedford.
Although most of the songs involved vocals, one song the band performed towards the end of their set was a reel, called “The Sally Gardens,” and was completely lyric-free. Ryan Thomson told the crowd that often during the crew’s downtime, fiddlers would play songs and used Sally Garden’s Reel as an example of some of the songs the fiddlers would play. In this upbeat and jovial song, Ryan Thomson played the whistle, and Harty and Brennish Thomson followed along with their fiddle and guitar, while Murray kept the beat going on percussion.
The Jolly Rogues’ set was at times interactive. Be it in providing sound effects for one of their jingles, to clapping and stomping their feet along to the beat of the song, the audience kept right along with the band.
Daphne Paul, a senior, said, “I like how they are in costume and how one of them sings and they all fall together. I liked how they played different instruments. There was the flute, the whistle, the viola and other instruments as well.”
Cody Lucido, a sophomore, said, “I thought it was good. I liked the jolliness of it.”