Songs of the Sea with John Corr
I’m bound to go back to the bay
My hands have grown soft,
I’ve been too long away
It’s been on my mind now for many a day
I’m bound to go back to the bay.
– “The Ballad of the Baymen” by John Corr
For 20 years John Corr has performed his signature sea chanteys at the Windmill on Long Wharf for HarborFest weekend. Corr, who is back for 2016 with a live performance on Saturday, September 10 at 1 p.m., took a moment this week to reflect on three decades of music and why he loves to perform in Sag Harbor
What first inspired you to sing sea chanteys? Are there a few that you always play at Harborfest?
My father was a professional fisherman and I’ve lived on Long Island my whole life. And then one of the guys in my first band just got out of the Navy so it just came naturally. I always do “Hall Away Joe,” a halyard chantey, and I do “Drunken Sailor,” of course. And I do a song I wrote myself back in the 1990s that seems to resonate with the fishermen of the south shore called “The Ballad of the Baymen.” The chorus is an optimistic one about a fellow who had to get a medial job but one day is going to get back on the bays.
What is your history in Sag Harbor?
I’ve been playing music out there for many years. The photograph on my first tape is a picture of our band in Sag Harbor when Pete Seeger asked us to come out on his boat. I have played at HarborFest for the last 20 years.
What is your favorite part about performing at Harborfest? With the whaleboat races going on right next to you, it’s kind of a perfect setting.
I like the crowds that come by. People seem to have a genuine interest in sea music. Especially people in Sag Harbor. I get a lot of people who stop by who are genuinely interested, and a lot of them are younger people.