"Nobody's right when everybody's wrong" - Stephen Stills, "For What It's Worth" (1966)

"They'll storm the gates of Hell itself, to the tune of a single drum" - Gordon Lightfoot, "Protocol" (1976)

"There's a power av virtue in keepin' things separate" - Long Jack (Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling)

There's a lot to be said for the idea of musicians keeping focused on music and not mucking about with politics. But sometimes the political class mucks things up so badly for so many that you simply can't avoid it. Yesterday was one such occasion, when I joined the other members of the Men Overboard maritime folk music trio in an impromptu performance at the Queen's Birthday Party event at the British consulate at Saint Petersburg. Check out my photo album (public on Facebook) - the ladies sporting hats were truly a sight to behold!

Diplomacy chucked over the rail

It was the last official event before the consulate closes, thanks to the dismal failure of the Fearless Leaders of both countries who have exhibited all the maturity level of five year olds. I apologize for disparaging five year olds. I've known a few who would probably do better at "leadership" - a "quality" they tried to foist on us in the Boy Scouts and which I've come to regard as highly overrated. But I digress.

It was a sad occasion for many, for many reasons. My two bandmates are retired career foreign service officers who have had close ties to the consulate for over 20 years. Peter Dyson's little choir of carol singers has been a fixture of the annual Christmas party. It was at that event in 2013 that I met him. Thanks to Peter, I discovered a previously unsuspected talent for composing original maritime folk songs, which has led to many interesting and fun travels and adventures, two more of which loom on my horizon: the Baltic Shanty Festival (June 29-July1 at Mariehamn, Åland Islands), which I'm playing as a solo performer, and the Harwich International Sea Shanty Festival (October 5-7 at Harwich, Essex, England) performing with the trio.

And it's time for us to leave her

Men Overboard trio singing at the 2018 QBPFor the "QBP" we chose a traditional English sea shanty that sailors were wont to sing at the end of a voyage:

Oh leave her, Johnny, leave her with a grin
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
For there's many a worser we've sailed in
And it's time for us to leave her

Oh it's leave her, Johnny, leave her
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
For the voyage is done
And the winds don't blow

And it's time for us to leave her

It seemed an appropriate choice for the circumstances.

Hulled but still afloat

While professional diplomacy may be scuttled to Davy Jones for the time being by the large-scale fools among us, we the smaller-scale fools who practice the musical arts will continue to look for opportunities to surmount the barriers manufactured to keep people apart and afraid of each other, and bring people together through music. Even if only for an hour or two, anything we can do to mitigate the damage to our mutual humanity is worth doing. We know music works for this. We know that the failure of the big bugs means that it's up to us now, to do what we can, until the painted ponies come back around once more.

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