Shantypalooza: MOBY DICK AND MUSIC

by Dave Fiebert: Iron Age Theatre Core Member, Old Pro and Carpenter in Moby Dick Rehearsed

Before I attempted acting, I was a musician of sorts. I suppose we all were in our teenage years. I played guitar in high school. My first foray was with “The Travelers”. Two 9th graders: one a banjo player, the other a guitarist -that would be me. One Talent Show and we were pretty much done, but we did write this wild song about the Civil War. Even stayed up until 11pm to complete the thing, which has now been lost to time.
In time I would have played bass for about four more short-lived groups, got lucky enough to record as a bassist on an album for RCA records in NYC for a fellow named Keith, which ended up in the bargain bin soon after its release. As time would have it, someone in England picked it up in the past 4 years and re-released it on the internet. It’s titled “Adventures Of Keith”. A rather intimidating experience to say the least to record in NYC. I felt I kind of let myself down on that one. I could have done better with the original material. Years later after its 1969 debut, another original band approached me to play.

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Dave Fiebert is playing the Harmonica on the upstage platform during the Peleg Ishmael Scene.

This was my last gasp. I had already called it a day, but took them up on it just to give myself one last hurrah. I wanted to make my mark on the music scene as a bass player and here was my chance. In short, we never made it to the studio. We played about 6 shows as a soft rock, folk band. We were quite good, but a tad out of step for the scene at the time.
Fast forward to now. I have been reunited with two of the band’s members and we are, after some 35 years, writing and playing our own music, as well as covering some cherry tunes from back in the day. I had never written a tune, or really sung a tune, but all that has changed. We are composing as a trio and as individuals. So along comes MOBY DICK REHEARSED.
The play calls for a lot of music, some unspecified. As I was practicing my lines at home, I saw there was a hymn and some sea shanties without music. So to practice my lines, I just hummed a melody to fit the need of the moment. With the hymn, the melody seemed to fit quite well. The words were courtesy of Melville via Welles. I sang it again and it sounded right for the theatricality of the play. I recorded it, sent it to John and Randy as an idea, and in the end, it happened to be right enough for the play.
One of the scripted sea shanties needed a melody as well, and I was able to fashion one that fit as well. So you never know what you can do until you try. Had I not banded together with my musical buds from back in the day, and reinvigorated this long desire to play music, this all may never have happened.
As to music and acting, my acting teacher from the mid 1970s, Rose Shulman, from The Hedgerow Theatre always described acting this way (which probably came from Jasper Deeter, the founder of Hedgerow): acting is an expression of sculpture, music , and dance. I believe that is as true now as it was when it was first expressed in the 1930s.
For Moby Dick, “The Ribs And Terrors Of The Whale” in song will live on forever.

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