In a few short years the Longest Johns have gone from singing sea shanties in a kitchen to International folk festivals, tours and TV appearances and have gained a huge online following. Here at Harwich International Shanty Festival we are so pleased to welcome them back as guests, following their transition to stardom. With innovative interpretations of many well known shanties, interspersed with some lesser known gems they delight their many fans and those who are just discovering them.
This is a welcome return for Brasy after their last visit to our Festival in 2015. Singing close harmonies, acapella and accompanied shanties they are one of the most popular bands we have hosted. Poland has a proud history of singing songs of the sea and Brasy have performed at clubs and festivals globally.
Another of our most popular performers, Nordet join us again from Lorient in Brittany. They sing shanties and sea songs in French, Breton and English accompanied by guitar, melodeon and now, Uillean pipes. Twenty years of experience has seen them performing all over the world at venues from Village Halls to concert auditoriums. Come and capture some of their magic.
Les Barker writes strange poems and comes originally from Manchester, but he’s now Welsh. He was an accountant before he became a professional idiot. He’s written 85 books, which sell in large numbers at his gigs because people don’t quite believe what they’ve just heard. His poems have spawned a number of folk heroes: Jason and the Arguments, Cosmo the Fairly Accurate Knife Thrower, Captain Indecisive and Spot of the Antarctic, to name but two. Don’t miss the chance to see Les on Friday 7th.
This talented duo join us again with some accomplished musicianship, harmonious singing and intriguing workshops. Their musical expertise and relaxed presentation make their performances readily accessible and a delight to hear and you can be sure of always finding some new gems in their extensive repertoire.
From La Rochelle in France, Les Brouilleurs d’Écoutes describe themselves as a Franco-British group with an Irish flavour. Their upbeat multi-instrumental approach to shanties has earned them a strong following both in their home country and abroad. Les Brouilleurs d’Écoutes made a huge impression on their first visit to Harwich and we are pleased to welcome them back.
Monkey’s Fist, based in Yorkshire and named after the knot used to heave the first line ashore, is the trio of Steve Flude, Colin Devey and John Horsey. They sing powerful arrangements of sea shanties, forebitters and ballads with close harmonies and guitar, concertina, bodhran and harmonica accompaniment. They have performed at clubs and festivals across the UK, together with festivals in Ireland, Germany and Holland.
Joining us from Apeldoorn In the Netherlands, Ol’Hands Shantymen have been singing together since 2003. They sing acapella, shanties and forebitters and try to stay as true to the original form as possible. The group have sung at maritime events in the Netherlands and the UK.
Stuart is a Kentish English folksinger, who not only pens his own songs but also plays well known traditional folk and sea songs. In addition to appearances in the UK, he also performs in The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Poland and Australia. Now resident in The Netherlands Stuart is also part of the well known shanty group ‘Armstrong’s Patent’ that perform at many festivals and events in Europe.
Based in the Burnhams, birth place of England’s greatest seaman, Lord Horatio Nelson, Nelson’s Shantymen are a diverse group of enthusiasts, driven in equal measure by a love of singing and a desire to keep the tradition of the authentic sea-shanty alive. True to the original spirit of the shanty, a major emphasis is placed on the voice, although instrumental accompaniment, in the form of banjo, bodhran, guitar and harmonica, is an integral part of performance.
The Hoolies from Wivenhoe are a popular Essex crew who sing an entertaining mix of traditional shanties and maritime folk songs with lively musical accompaniment. They combine a love of shantying with fundraising for good causes
From the Naval town of Portsmouth, Spinnaker Shanty sing traditional and original sea songs and shanties with harmony and humour. They are rapidly making a name for themselves around the Festival circuit.
Surely that’s the Naze Shanty Crew I hear you cry! But no, rising Phoenix like, from the ashes of a global pandemic, the Naze Shanty Crew with a slimmed down line up and no longer any connections to the town of Walton-on-the-Naze, have regrouped as The Black Deep. Shanties and sea songs are still very much what they are about and the group will be singing at several maritime events and festivals this year. Harwich however remains their favourite.
Another Essex crew, from the Blackwater estuary village of Goldhanger, the Goldhanger Shanty Crew evolved out of the local choir following a sea-themed concert in 2017. The group have been rantin’ an’ roarin’ in the local Chequers Pub ever since, apart from a few spells freezing outside or ‘Zooming’ when necessary.
Friggitt are a shanty trio from Wiltshire who perform all sorts of songs connected with the sea and sailors. As well as traditional and contemporary songs they also perform some original compositions written by the band members and others. They sing both acapella and accompanied by guitar, ukulele, bass and harmonica.
Freddie’s Barnet are an energetic and amusing folk duet performing old and new songs, from traditional sea shanties to singalong classics and occasionally one or two of their own compositions. Individually they have been singing and performing for over fifteen years, as a duo for over four. In that short time they have performed at many clubs, pubs and festivals throughout the UK.
One of the outcomes of the Board of Trade report into the sinking of the Titanic was the formation of six schools teaching Navigation and Seamanship to pupils from the age of eleven. One of these schools was the London Nautical School. Dave, Andy, John, Tony, Del and Stephen were all students at this school. Several went to sea after leaving school and some have crewed together on the tall ships Sorlandet and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. The name Fire & Ice is taken from the Titanic disaster. Ice is obvious, Fire comes from a suggestion the ship had a bunker fire from the time she left England.
Harwich Sing Tendring Voices is a community choir all about the love of singing. They have groups for all ages and all abilities but love to come together and perform as one from time to time, kids, teens and adults! They sing all kinds of music but have found a lot of joy in learning shanties and sea songs and are excited to be part of this year’s Shanty festival!
An accomplished concertina player, Ken sings sometimes solo and sometimes alongside Hans during the Festival programme. In addition, Ken is the author of many well known modern sea songs and shanties and we have a special concert showcasing his contribution to the maritime tradition.
Kentish band, Swinging the Lead join us once again with an ever expanding line up! They are regular singers on board the famous tea clipper, the Cutty Sark and also regulars at many festivals and events around the UK. They sing an entertaining mixture of traditional and contemporary maritime songs, including some written by members of the band. Swinging the Lead have been performing together for over ten years and are welcome regulars at HISF.
The home town Shanty Crew of the festival was born out of a workshop run at a very early HISF. They now perform at many events both locally and further afield with a dedicated and expanding group of singers and wide repertoire of sea songs and shanties, some self penned.
Hans is a familiar face at HISF and indeed at many other festivals in the UK. Join Hans at one of his “Learn to Play the Bones” workshops, or catch him as he sings Dutch and English shanties, accompanied by concertina or melodeon.
Accompanied by fiddle, mandolin and concertina, Charlotte and Spong have an original take on many traditional shanties and also include some contemporary material in their varied sets. This year they will be joined by Allan and Rene for another entertaining Magic Lantern Show. Featuring original photographs of 19th Century maritime life on a genuine Magic Lantern projector, this is a show not to be missed.
London Shanty Crew the Hog Eye Men sing at events all over the Capital City. They also host a monthly sea song and shanty session in central London and like Swinging the Lead, have a regular slot on board the Cutty Sark. The crew are keen to keep these great songs alive, singing them as they used to be sung: simply, boldly and loudly.
Just along the coast in Brightlingsea, Motley Crew have been singing together now for a number of years and gained a loyal following for their entertaining performances. They are much in demand locally and have performed at numerous events, often raising money for charity, particularly the RNLI.
A short trip down the Essex Coast to Maldon on the Blackwater Estuary finds the Shanty Crew Mains’l Haul. Formed in 2014, the group sing mainly unaccompanied, but also play a variety of instruments including melodeon, guitar, concertina and recorder. The group sing mainly at festivals, regattas and sailing clubs and have become regulars at HISF.
Felix Stowaways are a busy and popular Shanty Crew, performing at many local events and holding a successful annual “ShantyCafé” in their home town of Felixstowe. They have been singing together for a number of years and are welcome attendees at HISF.
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 FS’ offer an incredibly broad repertoire of maritime songs enhanced with beautiful harmonies and arrangements that will leave you enchanted.
Popular local group, the Golden Rivets will be performing for us again at the Shanty Festival this year. Accompanied by a variety of instruments they play and sing a lively, upbeat set of shanties and sea songs.
From our local waters of Essex, Hoy Boy (Peter Purnell) is a young(‘ish) 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.
Singing together since 2017, Pot of Gold, from Swaffham in Norfolk sing shanties and sea songs accompanied by guitar, banjo and melodeon. They share a passion for keeping the shanty and folk tradition alive and have a busy calendar of performances throughout the year.
Another London based group, Telegraph Community Choir will be visiting us for the second time this year. They recently celebrated their tenth anniversary and perform a wide range of singing styles. At HISF they will be concentrating on their Sea Shanty set.
Another home grown Harwich Town group, the Rattlin’ Winches have been singing together for several years now and are all keen exponents of the shanty tradition, performing at many local events. This busy trio also sing with other Harwich crews, so look carefully and you may spot them more than once over the weekend.
Isle ‘Ave A Shanty are a 6 piece shanty crew based on the Isle of Ely. They specialise in traditional songs from the sea and the country in a folk style as well as putting a folk twist on some modern classics! They may come from a landlocked county but they bring their own style to both traditional and self penned songs.
Chris was a founder member of The Shanty Crew back in 1976 and has a wealth of experience, both in singing shanties and sailing traditional tall ships. He also sings from the experience of having known the late Stan Hugill, the last of the deep-water sailors to have sung as a shantyman and the world’s greatest collector of them.
Roger and Liz return to the festival with lively interpretations of maritime songs, often accompanied by accordion or whistle. They will also be running the very popular “Learn to Sing in Public” workshop, encouraging new singers to take that plunge!
Malcolm and Pete, both well established figures on the Kent Folk scene, will be performing together at HISF with a wide range of maritime songs often accompanied by banjo or concertina. They both share a passion for songs of the sea and an in depth knowledge of their subject which they share with their audiences.