About Strikes A Bell

Strikes A Bell is a vocal group that sings traditional sea chanteys and contemporary maritime music around the Puget Sound area.  They are:

Steve Whinihan  kicked off his music talents by studying piano, but he switched to guitar so he could play his favorite folk music — the likes of the Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul and Mary; and The Clancy Brothers. He joined the church choir to play guitar and launched into singing. After moving from his native Oregon to Seattle, Steve quickly discovered the Northwest Folklife Festival and the maritime chantey sing and concerts at Northwest Seaport. 

Wayne Palsson is the leader of Strikes A Bell and is the host of Northwest Seaport’s Monthly Chantey Sing. He has been singing chanteys and maritime songs for over two decades, focusing on songs with rich tones reflecting the fishing and maritime trades. His own nautical experience on the high seas and local waters helps to anchor his interpretations of traditional chanteys and forebitters (leisure songs), new, and local sea songs. Wayne is a community coordinator with the Northwest Folklife Festival, organizing the maritime showcase. He also hosts the chantey sing-a-longs at the annual Port Townsend Wooden Festival.

Jean Geiger sings and plays guitar and banjo with Sound Crossing contra dance band, and with a couple of Scandinavian groups.  You can also hear her as a radio host of FolkMix on Mixcloud. She much prefers swimming, kayaking, and canoeing to sailing on the high seas.

Mary Wilson has deep roots in the Seattle folklore, history, and maritime community. She sang with Stan Hugill and Lou Killen at the first Seattle Chantey Festival on the Wawona, and continues to sing maritime music with Strikes A Bell. She also sings a variety of music with a number of groups including the Seattle Peace Chorus and Seattle City Cantabile Choir. 

Laura Bassett grew up in New Hampshire with folk music and sea chanteys of the Mystic Sea Music Festival and was active in the folk singing community in Boston before relocating to the Seattle area. She shares a love of both traditional and contemporary sea songs and is a regular performer at the Princeton Folk Music Festival. 

Debra Norby has been living in Seattle since 1996 but didn’t even know that maritime music was a thing until she stumbled upon the maritime showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival in 2017. She was immediately hooked and has been a regular attendee of the Northwest Seaport monthly chantey sings ever since, learning as much as she can about maritime music and culture. 

Dan Roberts spent his early childhood watching ships sail on San Francisco Bay and listening to his father’s WWII Merchant Marine stories, where he developed a healthy(?) attraction to the romance of the sea.  Exposed to sea music in his post-graduate years, he seized it with gusto, singing with Victory Sings at Sea, and he then revived the Northwest Seaport's regular monthly chantey sings. He is also a "bro" with The Whateverly Brothers.  

David Kessler grew up in New England, learned to sail as a teenager, and has crewed on a variety of boats and ships — from dinghies, to a Tartan 30, to the tall ship H.M.S. Rose. Singing maritime, folk, and drinking songs for many years, David co-founded the MIT Chantey & Maritime Sing, the North-East Chantey Sing calendar, the Single Malt & Song Society, and the Liberty Clipper’s annual Black Tot Day sing and sail. He collects songs from everyone he meets — some from sailing, some from Vermont, some from his family’s table, and some from foreign travelers. 

David Perasso blends a love for the American folk revival, English and Scottish songs, and his ancestral Italian songs.  At age 8, he started singing in his church choir and continued singing in choirs in the San Francisco Bay area and in Seattle. He discovered folk music in the 1980s and was introduced to chantey singing when he joined Strikes A Bell in 2017.  Although David has never sailed, he used to kayak, and he loves the ocean.