The Kastles combine singing, sailing and songwriting in a weave which has become internationally acclaimed for their interpretations of traditional material as well as their original works. They have performed at festivals, concerts, and on radio and television throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
In 1985 we started to pursue sailing as a way of life and have experienced, first-hand, the traditions and cultural diversity of life at sea, serving as crew aboard tall ships and other traditional sailing vessels, Tom says. He was asked by the designer of Chicagos tall ship Windy to sail along as first mate. Once you sail on a schooner, you just cant stop, he says.
We just got back from a month in the Pacific, Tom adds. We visited the waters and shores of Fiji on the way to New Zealand and attended a traditional meke performance as well as visited some undersea creatures off the coral coast of Viti Levu.
In New Zealand the couple performed at the National Maritime Museum in Auckland and were featured at folk clubs on both islands of the country.
We got to tour quite a bit and saw glaciers, penguins, albatrosses, mountains, Chris adds of their New Zealand trip. They also sailed aboard a 60 ketch that once belonged to Errol Flynn, saw the oldest square rigger in the world, and took a trick at the helm aboard a steamship from 1899 on the Wanganui River. This was the couples second trip to New Zealand and they plan on going back many more times in the future.
It was Ted Kamanski of the Chicago Maritime Society who steered Tom and Chris into discovering maritime songs of the Great Lakes. Kamanski told them about the Walton Collection at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There they fell in love with the old ballads.
We truly enjoy our Great Lakes heritage, Chris says.
It touches, not just here in our region, but throughout the world, Tom adds. In fact, in New Zeeland we found out that it is the only place in the world that still uses the Great Lakes scow (a vessel suited for shallow water). While in New Zealand, the couple played aboard the Ted Asby, a replica scow.
The Kastles also serve as directors of the Chicago Maritime Festival. Held in February, the event features musicians from all over the States as well as England, Scotland, France, Poland, and Canada. Participants from Northern Michigan include Tom Kelly of the Inland Seas Education Association, the Michigan Maritime Museum, Traverse City maritime artist Remy Champt, Friends Good Will (a new tall ship at South Haven), and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association.
This summer, the Kastles will be sailing local waters with the Inland Seas and the Manitou. Tom on occasion has been captain on the schoolships. They will be aboard May 17-20 and 24-27. Tom will also be captaining aboard some tour boats on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. In Chicago, the couple is often aboard the Windy and the Windy II.
On Saturday, May 21 the Kastles will perform at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City. The Kastles have been playing here for a number of years, said Christopher Carlson, advents coordinator at Horizon. They have tons of information on the Great Lakes maritime history and its songs. It is always great to have them. A lot of people in our region are really interested in the history of the lakes. And that interest makes the Kastles very popular around here.
For more information on the Kastles and their new CD, Familiar Waters, write to PO Box 56474, Chicago, IL 60656-0474, USA; Phone (773) 774-7216; or visit their website at www.kastles.net.