Hip-hop artist Macklemore releases PSA for Historical Seaport


You never know what conditions you’ll encounter on the open ocean. Which can be part of the adventure for visitors to the tall ship Lady Washington, but for a video production, it’s less than ideal.

So when hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis approached the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority about using the tall ship in the music video for their hit song, “Can’t Hold Us,” it took more than just booking a date to make it happen.

“We said, ‘Let’s make a deal here. How about you charter the boat, and in exchange for you doing a public service announcement for us, we will guarantee that we’re going to make this work for you, no matter what happens?’ ” Executive Director Les Bolton recalled.

That PSA, featuring Macklemore on the shores of Lake Union talking about his experience aboard Lady Washington, encourages donations and visitors to the tall ships.

“I was a little urban baby pirate up there, doing my thing. And you can do that thing too,” Macklemore says in the video.

As it turned out, the deal was good for both parties: The first day they tried to shoot near Ventura, Calif., the sea was so choppy, dancing was impossible aboard the ship.

“They got some really great action, the kind of footage we really love to get — Wow, that’s a ship under sail. But trying to dance on the cabin top, that would be a really great way to end up with somebody getting injured, or somebody jumping over the side wouldn’t be a good idea,” Bolton said.

The scenes featuring the ship show Macklemore in a crowd dancing, and at one point Ryan Lewis jumps off the prow into the water. They were able to shoot those scenes during a second day of filming near Oakland, Calif.

“If you’re paying attention to the boat and what’s going on, there are these beautiful pictures of the ship under sail and the water’s calm, and there are these beautiful pictures of the ship under sail with (San Francisco) in the background,” Bolton said. “We had the opportunity to have Ryan Lewis jump over the side in a way that we were fairly certain we were going to be able to save his life.”

Capt. John Morrison piloted the ship for the video, and is currently working on a documentary in Bellingham with Hawaiian Chieftan.

“He’s one of our senior masters, he’s done ‘Master and Commander’ and ‘Once Upon a Time,’ he’s done lots of film work with us. It’s just worked out really well. And they’ve been great to work with,” Bolton said.

The PSA, available at http://bit.ly/18502tS, got more than 23,000 views in the first 24-hours after its release, but no donations, Bolton said. Donations can be made at https://donate.towercare.com/ghhsa.

“If everybody donated a dollar, how beautiful would that be? It’s one of those things that would be great if it generated revenue, but it’s generating interest that increases public awareness of the ships and sends them to our website and maybe they get involved with us at a later date,” he said. “There’s millions of people in this country who have never heard of us, who have never heard of the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftan.”