I have released two recordings and below is info on both of them. Because many listeners no longer acquire a physical product, my hope is that those lovers of details about songs who don’t have the CDs will find their way here to geek out. Because I love reading about songs almost as much as I like singing them, there is a lot of verbiage ahead – click a song’s title for the notes. Happy reading!

Links to Amazon, where you can buy these recordings, are provided. You’ll also find the albums on many music streaming services.

Way down at the bottom of this page is a list of some of the albums I have been invited to contribute to.

The Ballad of Harbo and Samuelsen,
and Other True Stories

These are songs that tell a story (the title track is about the first men to row across the North Atlantic ocean, in 1896). Many of them are based on actual incidents, while others are so good they should be true even if they’re not. Just about all of them are of a nautical nature. This is 100% all-natural music – you’ll enjoy it.

Track List
  1. Jimmy’s Mobile Phone (J. Bryant)
  2. The Dreadnought Mutiny (J. Bryant)
  3. The Campañero
  4. Thomas Bird (J. Bryant)
  5. The Aylesbury Girl
  6. Huckleberry Hunting
  7. Crossing the Line (J. Bryant)
  8. The Ballad of Harbo and Samuelsen (J. Bryant)
  9. Selma (J. Bryant)
  10. Awkward as a New Chum
  11. Click Go the Shears
  12. The Mermaid Song (S. Silverstien/J. Friedman)
  13. Canadee-i-o

All songs traditional, except as noted.

  • Jerry Bryant: lead vocal, anglo concertina, plectrum banjo, guitar, baritone uke.
  • Eric Bryant:
    • harmony vocal on 2, 6,7, 8, 11; guitar on 11,12.
  • Gary Buttery:
    • tuba on 1, 7, 8, 10, 12.
  • Margaret M. McCandless:
    • harmony vocal on 6, 8.
  • Don Sineti:
    • banjo on 1, 8, 12.
  • Rick Spencer:
    • harmony vocal on 2, 6, 7, 8; mandolin on 4, 9.
    • banjo on 11; guitar on 2, 5.
  • Bill Walach:
    • mandolin on 1, 5, 8, 12.

Additional chorus on Harbo & Samuelsen (8): Chelsea Bryant, Emily Bryant, Evelyn Bryant, Karen Bryant, Megan Frost.

Album Notes

Produced by Jerry Bryant, with kibitzing by everyone.

Engineered by Jeff Harrison, Julie Frothingham and Shauna Milos of Harrison Digital Productions, Belchertown, MA. Miracles at no extra charge.

Recorded February 24, 1996, in Conference Room C, Kaiser Permanente Administrative Offices, Amherst, MA; and February 26, 1996, at Harrison Digital Productions.

Cover art by Margaret M. McCandless after a period photograph of George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen in the rowboat Fox.

Thanks to my brother and talented friends who performed on this recording. Thanks also to Don and Susan Grant, Joe Bryant, Shari Broder, Eliza Bryant, and Nicki Boenig. Sincere gratitude to my patient daughters, Emily and Chelsea, and to my sweetie Fran Goodwin, who keeps me going. And inexpressible thanks to the unknown folks who created the songs we, today, call traditional.

Roast Beef
of Old England

Jerry Bryant and Starboard Mess

A collection of traditional songs from the man-of-war days of the Royal Navy, and a companion to the Aubrey-Maturin series of seafaring novels by Patrick O’Brian.

  • Jerry Bryant: Lead vocal, pennywhistle, bones
  • Starboard Mess is:
    • Eric Bryant
    • Sheldon Campbell
    • Peter Contrastano
    • Cliff Haslam
    • Geoff Kaufman
    • Payton Turpin
  • Ron Grosslein: Fiddle, fife, flute
Album Notes

This recording was created out of a bilateral desire. First, to provide a companion for the seafaring novels of Patrick O’Brian (the Aubrey-Maturin series), and second, to present a collection of traditional songs from the heyday of the Royal Navy.

To achieve the first goal I researched the traditional songs O’Brian inserts into his wonderfully detailed historical fiction. I chose thirteen songs and tunes the author cites, and added eleven more that might have been heard on board a British man-of-war at the beginning of the 19th century. To give the listener an idea of what sailor music of that time might have sounded like, I’ve tried to use historically accurate pronunciation and traditional singing styles. For example, at that time singing was seldom accompanied by instruments, so all the songs in this collection are presented a capella.

In pursuit of the second goal I traced the origins of as many of the songs as possible. Based on my research, all the songs were in circulation during the early 1800s. While some are still sung today (indeed, there are a few here that I learned solely through oral transmission and have yet to find in print), several have existed only as words on paper for 200 years. By finding period tunes to match these lyrics I’ve tried to give these songs new life.

What makes traditional songs wonderful – besides the pleasure there is in singing them – is that they are artifacts of the past, as much as any item in a museum display case. These songs allow us to look into the lives of ordinary people in a unique way, to connect directly to them through the act of singing the same words to the same tunes. A foremast hand on a man-of-war did sing these songs, I am sure, and so can you.

I hope you’ll enjoy this recording on both levels, enhancing your pleasure in Mr. O’Brian’s books, and catching a glimpse of an earlier time.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Alan Stockwell at Soundesign Studios, Brattleboro, VT, in April, 2000.

Produced by Jerry Bryant.

With thanks to Richard Kapp, for having such faith; Robin Harrington, for loan of the whistle; to Eric and to Kevin, for encouragement and support; and most of all to Fran, without whom this would not have been possible.

If you’d like the words to any of the songs, please submit your request

Some of the recordings on which Jerry is a guest artist

  • American Sea Chanteys, Le Chasse-Maree Anthology of Sea Songs, Vol. 11; Mystic Seaport
  • Rick Spencer, Contentment; Windward Music
  • Shipping News, Wives Tales
  • Richard Docker Salty Dick’s Uncensored Sailor Songs
  • Lynz Morahn, Kick It Off
  • Penguin Audio Books, In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick (first edition)
  • Consultant on traditional songs of the Royal Navy for the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Voice and concertina artist on the 2022 film The Lightkeepers