The traditional songs of the sea continue to be revived through the exuberant performances and recordings of Schooner Fare. But, in the more than three decades the Maine-based group has consistently expanded its musical scope, with repertoire reflecting a lively mixture of folk songs, pop tunes, and original songs including "We the People," "Portland Town," and "Leviathan." Schooner Fare's albums include a winter season tribute, Home for the Holidays, released in 1987, with songs sung in Hebrew, French, German, and Spanish. SchoonerKids, released ten years later, was aimed at the younger set with such tunes as "Bonnie Heeland Laddie," "The Rattlin' Bog," and "A Cat Named Patrick Finnegan."
Conceived as a duo of brothers by guitar and banjo players and vocalists Chuck and Steve Romanoff during a backstage picking session, the group was expanded to a trio with the addition of Tom Rowe on electric bass, pennywhistle, and vocals. Performing weekly at the Holy Mackerel in Portland, ME and in folk music coffeehouses throughout the Northeast, Schooner Fare continued to develop their sound. Releasing their debut album, Day of the Clipper, in 1978, Schooner Fare had their first success with their third recording, Alive, released in 1983, which captured the excitement of their concerts. We the People, released two years later, established Schooner Fare as a national touring folk act.
Schooner Fare celebrated their tenth anniversary in 1986 with a second live album, The First Ten Years, recorded during performances at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. Classic Schooner Fare, released the following year, featured Schooner Fare's best-known tunes with arrangements by Michael Braz and played with a small orchestra. Although some considered 1990's Signs of Home to be their weakest album, Schooner Fare rebounded with For the Times, released in 1983 and featuring six original tunes including "Too Funky for the Folkies (But Too Folksy for the Time)" and "The Broome o' the Cowdenknowes."
Schooner Fare continued their streak with Finnegan's Wake, released in 1995, successfully returning to the traditional repertoire of their earliest shows 20 years earlier. Sadly, after Schooner Fare had been performing and recording as a trio for 29 years, Tom Rowe died of cancer in 2004; the Romanoff brothers decided it would be impossible to replace him, so they continued on as a duo, releasing And Both Shall Row in 2005 and Roots and Wings in 2010. ~ Craig Harris