Candlelight Concert to feature Port Townsend duo

PORT TOWNSEND — Chris Gilbert and Jay McHagar will perform at the Candlelight Concert Online series at Trinity United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Gilbert & McHagar, a Port Townsend duo, will share shanties and other songs of the sea.

To listen and sing along, go to https://trinityumcpt.org. A link is there for Candlelight Concerts Online and ways to donate.

Half of the donations from Gilbert and McHagar’s concert will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Jefferson County, https://namijeffcowa.org.

They have performed at many pubs, yacht clubs, schools and festivals including Folk Life in Seattle, The Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, the Maritime Festival in Port Angeles, and the Port Gamble Maritime Festival.

Inspired by their love of the British pub scene, they often pass out song sheets and encourage the audience to sing along. For their online concert, song sheets will be posted at the Trinity United Methodist Candlelight Concert webpage at https://trinityumcpt.org/events/candlelight-concerts.

Gilbert hails from London, England, and has participated in various folk traditions in the “old country” since his college days. He sang in folk clubs and pub song circles and became active in the quintessential English frivolity known as Morris dancing.

In 1992, he emigrated to the U.S., finally settling in Port Townsend.

He has another band focusing on folk songs from the British Isles called Happenstance at www. happenstancemusic.net.

McHagar was raised in northern California, where he sang cowboy songs and played the harmonica while riding his horse at his family’s stables.

He competed in horse shows and rodeos before hanging up his spurs and starting a career in agricultural irrigation engineering.

That took him to Australia, the Middle East and Europe, where he discovered and fell in love with Irish pub singing. He re-discovered his love of music after retiring to Port Townsend in 2011.

While living aboard his boat and attempting to become a sailor, he stumbled upon a shanty circle and joined in. He was soon taken by the history and culture of the ships of sail and the shanty art form.

He said he realized he had found a new home when he heard a line from a maritime folk song that read “sailors are just cowboys at sea”.

He met Gilbert at the shanty circles and they realized that they shared a passion for folk music and songs of the sea.

McHagar also performs in his country blues band “The Water Street Boys”.

For more information on Gilbert & McHagar, see https://www.nwshanties.com.

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