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Transatlantic rower calms turbulence with music

Meet the Seattle man is using his boat to boost morale during the coronavirus pandemic.

SEATTLE — As an endurance rower, Jordan Hanssen was part of a team that pulled its way across the Atlantic in record time back in 2006. As an "experience provider" for AirBnb, Hanssen has helped fulfill the seafaring fantasies of travelers from around the world, by rowing them to destinations around the sound. It's a job he loves.

"Man, this is too good to be true," Hanssen said.

But as just another human caught up in the worldwide pandemic, he's focusing on something we could all use right about now.

Pure joy.

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Just before the governor's stay-at-home order, Hanssen and his spacious 17-foot rowboat, Clarabelle, provided a stage with appropriate social distancing for Northwest musicians who hadn't had a chance to play in public for a while. He filmed all the performances and is sharing them on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

"I thought about getting musicians in the boat before," Hanssen said, "But this just kind of seems to be a calling."

The result is the Tiny Boat Session, a collection of songs played in the tranquility of nature. Some original, some classic, some as silly and buoyant as the boat they're played on.

Rowing buddy and violin player, Rick Tarbill, plays a jaunty "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," as Hanssen does just that, seated an acceptable 8 feet away.

Other tunes are surprisingly emotional. Singer/songwriter Louisiana Pearl can barely finish as she strums an original song about isolation the power of love.

Hanssen said, "It's been a huge privilege to be able to sit in the boat and see these people just..."

The sentence trails off as he chokes back tears.            

Hanssen will be rolling out new music on social media over the coming weeks. And though he can no longer meet up in-person to capture more music, musicians and their quarantine partners with rowboats, like Seattle singer and voice actor Katie Malik, have agreed to keep the music afloat. 

In these turbulent times, Jordan Hanssen is helping calm the waters with music.

"The tool that I was given was a rowboat," Hanssen said,  "So that's what I'm using."

Hanssen has added a donation button on the #TinyBoatSession social media sites to raise money for the Seattle Artist Relief Fund, which is assisting local artists sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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