What are Ratlines?
"Ratlines" are the rungs between the shrouds used for going aloft. This is the ladder-like structure you see in old sailing ships. The "shrouds" are the major side stays of a mast; "stays" are the lines that support the mast.
If "Salty Walt" is the driving force, the fellas who rattle all around him also support him. Aren't you glad you asked?
Who are the Ratlines?
Griff is one helluva musician. I'm still discovering instruments I didn't know he played. It runs in his family. He swears his big brother is even better. He grew up playing bluegrass and country, and his Pa used to record them on professional equipment for fun. He's always pulling something outta his hat to amaze us. Griff is the machinery that makes the group work.
Sure, he's probably sick of hearing it, but Jon is a genius. Sometimes I think we're just slowing him down. Not only can he pull apart other people's arrangements from well-mixed albums, but he invents brilliant ones for us as well. Of course none of it sounds as perfect as it did in his head, but that's usually our fault. Jon has also written and directed his own original play: "Jack the Giant Killer" and composed and arranged at least three of the songs for the play. Then there's the fight choreography.
So Jon had never played a musical instrument, then one day he picked up one of Griff's concertinas and said "Oh, I get how this works!" and was figuring out songs the same day. Three months later he was laying down tracks with it as we recorded, and there are some songs we won't perform if he and his squeezebox aren't there. He's probably the most eligible bachelor in the group, ladies, but don't tell Walt that or he gets all mopey.
Dan writes, directs, and composes for his own performance troupe "Dogs in Doublets," one of the longest-operating groups in Renaissance Faire history. We are lucky to have him when he is not busy with his own original works including songs and plays. His open collaborative style has allowed him to work with some of the best performers the West Coast has offered that genre, and allowed him to help shape its look and sound over the past 30 years. He brings all this varied experience to his harmonies and instrumental arrangements.