The King of the Cannibal Islands

revell carrPirates. They have a bad reputation. The robbing. The kidnapping. The walking of planks.

But how about the positive things pirates have done? The contributions to fashion. The government-sanctioned predatory actions against the nefarious Spanish. The unwavering support of a rum industry that made Colonial America such a raging success.

And, of course, the singing. In honor of tomorrow’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, the University of Illinois Press alerts fans in the Champaign-Urbana area that nationally known chanteyeuse Chris Madon will lead the Urbana Sea Chantey Singers in a storytelling and singing celebration of eyepatches and Jolly Rogerses. It’s a free show starting at 3 p.m. on September 19 at the Champaign Public Library Main Branch (200 E. Green Street). The library promises a pirate activity, as well.

Never at a loss to inform, UIP also publishes a book on sea chanteys and the men who yo-ho-ho them. James Revell Carr‘s Hawaiian Music in Motion studies how the music of the islands found a way aboard seagoing vessels and eventually spread around the world to make loping rhythms, falsetto yodels, and driving ukuleles indelible parts of American popular music.

No mere landlubber, Carr also spreads the music via slack key guitar and button accordion as he and a wily crew o’ mates tour land and sea alike. In fact, UIP hosts streaming audio of Carr singing classic chanteys like “The Sailor Loves His Bottle-O” and “The King of the Cannibal Islands.”