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The Shanty Scene!

An updated shanty blurb will be added each year in the months leading up to the festival!


Firstly a big welcome to the 2016 Falmouth International Maritime Festival - as ever there is a remarkable group of artsts from all parts of Europe, in town, to celebrate the heritage of maritme music.

It is widely known that the shanty was a work song used on Clipper ships and trading vessels around the world – the songs moved from ship to ship with the crew and so the words changed – the shantyman often improvised when he forgot the words!!

Just imagine... a street rabble of unwilling men – rogues and vagabonds – men escaping the law (or a nagging wife!!) and not having a clue about ropes or sails and not understanding the terms and expressions used by the regular crew – so one of the first cries to go up would be ‘Is there a shantyman on board?’ any sailor who had even a little previous experience quickly learned that it was easier to stand and sing about hauling a rope than actually physically doing the work!!

Despite the long hours and harsh conditions on these voyages the crew would have a little free  me and would o en gather on the deck and someone would start singing about home, the ‘fun  mes’ in the bawdy houses of foreign ports – and it was chance to complain about Officers and living conditions. If this was done in song, rather than the spoken word, they could not be punished ‘Oh no Sir its just the words of a song I learned on another ship’.

All these traditions continue, and during the festival shanties and the songs of the forebitter will be heard all over Falmouth during the festival – but also its worth noting that many of them are recently written!

These days we are bombarded with word ‘team’ in many different contexts so why not ‘Team Shanty’ and let the streets ring to the sound of maritime music!! And all the artists would be delighted to hear you taking up the chorus and perhaps you will learn few words of French, Dutch, Norwegian, or even traditional Cornish!

Once again I ask the question –Is there a shantyman on board?

Have a memorable, enjoyable and fun  lled weekend and why not come and say hello to me at the Chantey Cabin next to the Skinner’s Stage on Events Square? It would be great to see you!

May you always run before the wind!

Jan Lardner