This is fun and absolutely gives a flavor of life on the river. The first of several programmes on the BBC about the project this week. This one made by Sara Jane Hall who visited the boat this summer on BBC Radio3’s Between The Ears.
The Shanty Boat
“Hey man, you’re living my dream…!”
The cry rings out once, twice a day from people who catch sight of the shanty boat as it wends its way down the back waters of the USA.
Hand built out of reclaimed redwood by artist, anarchist, and surprisingly practical river boat captain, Wes Modes – his aura is that of a modern day Huck Finn, his ships mates are friends and lovers and ‘Good dog Hazel’ is always on the couch, on guard, or under the table.
In a rich tapestry of watery atmosphere, frustration, intimacy, fear and pleasure, we hear a slipping, sliding adventure, where the smell of pancakes, the slap of water and the smoke of cigars wafts over the waters of Americas great rivers.
On his travels Wes records the stories of people on the river for his ‘Secret History’ project. He’s met shanty boat dwellers from the 20’s and 30’s, including Betty Goines who recalls her sister finding Tennessee pearls on the river, and a violent encounter with a wild cat. Betty once shot two intruders when she was a child guarding the boat.
In between stories we hear the captain’s views on billionaire worship – sometimes in language not for the fainthearted – and how an artist and an anarchist fits into America today.
But living the dream on the shanty boat isn’t always straightforward… Perhaps there would be engine problems; perhaps flames would lick the side of the raft and the local police take an extra interest…. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…
A wide screen, extravagantly rich textured tale of risk, romance, and tested tempers.
Producer: Sara Jane Hall
Special Effects: Barney Quinton