A charming programme was aired on Radio 3 earlier this evening: maybe not the thing for the River Sid, but you never know...
The Shanty Boat
'Hey man, you're living my dream...!'
The cry rings out once, twice a day from people who catch sight of the shanty boat as it wends its way down the back waters of the USA.
Hand built out of reclaimed redwood by artist, anarchist, and surprisingly practical river boat captain, Wes Modes - his aura is that of a modern day Huck Finn, his ships mates are friends and lovers and 'Good dog Hazel' is always on the couch, on guard, or under the table.
In a rich tapestry of watery atmosphere, frustration, intimacy, fear and pleasure, we hear a slipping, sliding adventure, where the smell of pancakes, the slap of water and the smoke of cigars wafts over the waters of Americas great rivers.
On his travels Wes records the stories of people on the river for his 'Secret History' project. He's met shanty boat dwellers from the 20's and 30's, including Anita Smith Cobb who recalls her sister finding Tennessee pearls on the river, and a violent encounter with a wild cat, and Betty Goines who once shot two intruders when she was a child guarding the boat.
In between stories we hear his views on billionaire worship - sometimes in language not for the fainthearted - and how an artist and an anarchist fits into America today.
But living the dream on the shanty boat isn't always straightforward...
Perhaps there would be engine problems; perhaps flames would lick the side of the raft and the local police take an extra interest....
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...
A wide screen, extravagantly rich textured tale of risk, romance, and tested tempers.
BBC Radio 3 - Between the Ears, The Shanty Boat
Here's a wonderfully-inspiring website:
Wes Modes – A Secret History of American River People
Posts by Wes Modes | ShantyboatLiving.com
With loads of practical stuff here:
People ask all the time about how the shantyboat was built – A Secret History of American River People
boatbuilding – A Secret History of American River People