In the old days, sailors sang shanty songs as they prepared their ships and sails for voyage. In more recent years, Providence musician Mark Lambert and his bandmates in the Sharks Come Cruisin have performed shanty-inspired songs on album tracks and live each month at the "PVD Shanty Sing."

The performances started six years ago as a way for families to get together on the second Friday of every month to eat, laugh, and sing along at The Parlour on North Main Street in Providence.

“Chaos is the best way to describe the atmosphere,” Lambert said. “We bring a big bag of instruments, and we pour them out on the floor so all the kids grab instruments and they run around and shake them. That’s a ton of fun.”

But right now the in-person performances are on hold because of the coronavirus. So Lambert’s getting creative to keep the tradition going.

He’s performing from home with his wife each month on Facebook Live, as their nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son run in and out frame from time to time.The Facebook Live shows are about more than just performing. Lambert’s trying to raise money for The Parlour, where he usually holds "Shanty Sing." 

It’s a small, intimate venue, and a special place for musicians and music-lovers who come to hear everything from country to funk to jazz and karaoke. 

When he started the fundraiser, Mark set his goal at $2,000. He hit that quickly and has already raised nearly $9,000.

“It means a lot to me,” Lambert said. “And for me to be able to play an active role in supporting that venue and doing it through music and the community that we’ve built over the last six years has been extremely rewarding.”

Lambert said performing from home to a remote audience is definitely different than playing for a crowd in-person. For one, it’s odd to finish a song and hear no applause. 

But he expects musicians will have to get used to new ways of putting on shows, at least for the foreseeable future. Even so, he said, it’s inspiring to see the work of musicians and artists continue on through the pandemic.

“Artists are so resilient that even this can’t hold art down, whatever art it is that you do,” Lambert said.

Friday, May 8, will be the six-year anniversary of the first PVD Shanty Sing. The show kicks off at 6 p.m. on the Sharks Come Cruisin Facebook Page, and visitors who stop by will have a chance to donate to The Parlour.

And it will all come to you live from the comfort of Mark’s living room in Providence.

Alex Nunes can be reached at