"Backtracing Walt's sources has been an education in the history of maritime music!"
Who is Salty Walt?
Walter Askew has been interested in maritime music since his college days. His love of history and study of oral traditions led him to work at several museums including San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, where he sailed the Hawaiian Chieftain (a 105ft topsail ketch), and the scow schooner Alma (a craft unique to the San Francisco Bay) and crewed on Delaware's state ship the Kalmar Nyckel. His friends found that whenever they had a question about the sea or sailors, Walter would always have the answer. Before long, he was dubbed with the nickname "Salty Walt" and somehow it stuck.
A regular performer at San Francisco's Festival of the Sea with his band "Salty Walt and the Rattlin' Ratlines," Walter has completed his second tour of Europe playing at festivals and folk clubs: England (Scarborough's Seafest), The Netherlands (Scheepvaart Museum), and Germany (Festival Maritim). He has shared the stage with acts such as Lou Killen, Tom Lewis, The Johnson Girls, Holdstock & Macleod, Hughie Jones, Richard Grainger, Maree De Paradis, and many others. At home in San Francisco he performs regularly and used to host a monthly session at Edinburgh Castle Pub, working to maintain the authentic voice of the traditions he represents while making this music accessible to a new generation.
Even though it's been a while since Walter worked in living history, or for the SF Maritime Museum, education is never far from his heart, so he considers it important to know what work the songs were used for, the stories behind them, and in what ways the group has taken liberties with them. And he'll tell you if you don't move quickly enough.