2021 Festival

Our 2021 Festival features a rather special theme of the Mayflower. Most of you will know that the year 2020 was intended to be a celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower to the New World. Harwich town as the birthplace of both the Mayflower Ship and its Master Christopher Jones, is an important part of that story.

Many towns in England, but also in the Netherlands and of course the U.S.A were planning a joint celebration of this historic occasion, with commemorative events scheduled to take place throughout the year. We all know what happened to that! However there are still hopes to salvage something of this historic occasion and many towns are still staging some events connected to the Mayflower Story.

Here at Harwich International Shanty Festival we have managed to secure Shanty Singers and Crews to represent most of the Mayflower Towns and we have several special events and concerts lined up following this theme. Our Guest List below indicates which Artists are representing a particular Mayflower Town and we look forward to welcoming you to the series of special concerts we have lined up.

Johnson Girls

Johnson Girls were all set to come to our 2020 Festival, representing the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts as part of our Mayflower celebrations. Travel uncertainties and increased costs make their Atlantic crossing impossible this year, but we are very much hoping that this world renowned Shanty group can join us via the wonders of Live Streaming.


Kimbers Men

We are so pleased to welcome the talented Kimber’s Men back to our Festival this year. Their superb harmonies and great arrangements make them one of the most sought after Shanty Groups in the land. And as true Yorkshire men they are representing the town of Austerfield, Doncaster as part of our Mayflower celebrations.

Shanty Jack

For the past 30 years or more, Shanty Jack (Pete Hayselden) has been a regular fixture at Shanty Festivals both in the UK and abroad. He spent a large part of his life working on Tugs in the Humber and was instrumental in establishing the Hull Sea Fever Festival. This is his first visit to us here in Harwich, he represents the three towns of Boston, Gainsborough and Immingham in his adopted home county of Lincolnshire.

Act Of Mutiny

Another first for us, Act of Mutiny hail from Leiden in the Netherlands, the town where many of the Pilgrims settled before making that historic crossing. The group has a versatile repertoire of traditional and modern shanties, singing mainly in English, sometimes French or Spanish and often accompanied by guitar, banjo, flute, cello and percussion. Look forward to some lively performances.

Ken Stephens

With his relaxed singing style, sensitive concertina playing and dry sense of humour, Ken has been a regular feature at our Festival now for a few years. Couple this with an ability to write songs which again have found their way into the “traditional” genre and Ken’s popularity is obvious. This year he comes to us representing his home town of Southampton in the Mayflower celebrations.

Old Gaffers

From the South Hams area of Devon, Old Gaffers are representing their nearby towns of Plymouth and Dartmouth. This is the Gaffers second visit to Harwich and their previous performances made them an instant hit. A large repertoire of sea songs and shanties, professional delivery and easy going style make them a popular choice at venues both locally and further afield.

Swinging The Lead

Popular regulars at the Festival, Swinging the Lead have expanded their line up over recent years to become a six piece band. As resident band on the Cutty Sark and with a Mayflower song of their own, Swinging the Lead are representing Rotherhithe/Southwark as part of our Mayflower celebrations.

Harwich Shanty Crew

Luckily for us, we have our own home grown Shanty Crew to represent the town of Harwich for our Mayflower celebrations. The crew grew out of a workshop we ran at one of our early Festivals and they have been performing locally now for ten years gaining a loyal following.

Hans Weehuizen aka Dutch Uncle

Another Festival favourite, Hans will be joining us again from the Netherlands. As well as running his popular Bones Workshops, Hans will be performing sometimes solo, sometimes alongside Ken Stephens, singing and playing concertina or melodeon

Tyburn Road

Talented musicians and singers Ian Giles and Dave Townsend perform together as Tyburn Road, singing sea shanties and maritime songs. Featuring superb vocals, original arrangements and great concertina playing they are a duo not to be missed

Silver Darlings

This all female crew from the Southend area made a great impression at our 2019 Festival and are set to do the same again as they join us in 2021. They are rapidly making a name for themselves, both locally and further afield, with great voices and lively performances.

Charlotte & Spong

Polished performers and great musicians with a wide repertoire of nautical songs, this duo is always in demand at any Folk or Maritime event. Join in with their popular “Shanty Karaoke Singalong” session on Sunday.

Naze Shanty Crew

Founders of the Harwich International Shanty Festival and enthusiastic promoters of maritime music, the Naze Shanty Crew are thrilled to be performing together again after their enforced rest. Veterans of several maritime festivals at home and abroad, Harwich remains of course, their favourite

Hog Eye Men

Named after a traditional sea shanty, the crew share a wealth of experience of singing nautical songs in an authentic fashion. They boast a large and varied repertoire and in “normal” times can be found hosting a monthly sea song and shanty session in central London, from where they join us again this year.

Motley Crew

Some years ago now the Motley Crew combined their love of the sea and sailing to form a shanty singing group. Their robust light hearted style of singing soon gained them a following and they have performed at numerous events both locally and further afield. They join us again from their home town of Brightlingsea, just along the Essex Coast.

Mains’l Haul

The long Essex Coastline provides plenty of opportunities for Shanty Singing groups to proliferate and regulars at the Festival, Mains’l Haul are another local group this time from Maldon, where there is still a lively seafaring tradition. The group sing mainly acapella, with occasional instrumental accompaniment and have performed at numerous maritime themed events.

Salt Water & Beer

Also from Maldon, Salt Water & Beer have been singing together for a number of years. Originally singing for beer on Maldon Quay they now sing for beer at events much further afield, including our own Harwich International Shanty Festival.

Sound Tradition

Sound Tradition sing in glorious four part harmony, anything from gentle lilting ballads to lively choruses. This is their second visit to Harwich International Shanty Festival with their mainly maritime set. All four members of the band are respected and accomplished singers with impressive pedigrees and experience.


Felix Stowaways

Blessed with the catchiest name that could be bestowed upon a crew, our Suffolk neighbours the Stowaways join us once again to sing a lively selection of sea songs and shanties. With an ever increasing repertoire and engaging stage presence the Stowaways have made a big impression on the local scene.

Capstan Full Strength

Capstan Full Strength are a six strong vocal harmony group who have sung songs of the sea, land and work since 1998. Their powerful ‘broadside’ of sound has been welcomed at festivals in Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles .  ‘Capstan’ offer an incredibly broad repertoire of maritime songs enhanced with beautiful  harmonies and arrangements that will leave you enchanted.

Golden Rivets

Another home grown band from Harwich Town, the Rivets have been performing together at pubs and clubs for a number of years and their upbeat style and presentation has gained them a loyal following locally.

Malcolm Ward

An inveterate singer of shanties and folk songs, Malcolm has been performing at clubs and festivals for many years. With a melodious voice and sympathetic accompaniment on concertina, Malcolm joins with Pete Stockwell for most gigs here at Harwich International Shanty Festival.

Pete Stockwell

Long time devotee of all things maritime, Pete has been singing sea songs and shanties for as long as any of us can remember and leads the shanty session at Broadstairs Folk Festival every year. He has been a supporter of our Festival since the beginning and we look forward to welcoming him back in 2021.


This will be the second appearance for The Hoolies from Wivenhoe on the Colne Estuary. Now well established as part of the shanty community, they are in much demand locally for their lively and entertaining versions of traditional and contemporary sea songs.

Hoy Boy

Sailing in from Canvey Island in Essex, Hoy Boy (Peter Purnell) is a young enthusiastic acapella sea shanty soloist with a passion for maritime folk music. Specialising in rousing uplifting shanties from the golden age of sail that will have you joining in with gusto.

Pot Of Gold

From Swaffham in Norfolk, Pot of Gold sing mainly traditional shanties often accompanied by guitar, banjo, melodeon and percussion. In pre-Covid times, they have performed for us at our Shanty Sundays on the Pier sessions and we are pleased to be able to welcome them to the Festival for the first time.

Rattlin’ Winches

Local Buoys, sorry boys, Ben, Len and Roy must be the hardest working shanty singers at the Festival this year as they perform with three other shanty groups as well. Harwich International Shanty Festival has obviously gone to their heads. Long may it last!

Shotley Crue

Another crew formed directly as a result of the Harwich Shanty Festival, Shötley Crüe have now been singing together for nearly 6 years and have performed at a number of Festivals and clubs around the country. They are now resident band at a monthly Folk club in South London.


ShantyFolk are a landlocked, acapella shanty group from the Lavenham area; they have been singing together since 2014 when, as members of a local choir, they sought to do ‘something different’ for a charity concert.  Since then they have helped raise a significant amount for various good causes including the RNLI. 2021 will mark their debut at HISF.


Isle ‘ave a Shanty

A six piece acapella male harmony group from the landlocked Isle of Ely; hence the name! This busy group have not been slacking during lockdown and their performances have won them the prestigious North Northamptonshire Online Music Festival Trophy 2021. Catch them on the Sunday of the Festival.


Apologies to the many Artists we were unable to host this year. I’m sure you all appreciate what a difficult year it has been for all aspects of the Arts and the music industry. Let’s all support this Festival and start to get events back on track.