We are a crew of mates who just love to sing traditional working shanties along with more modern maritime songs and Bristol sea shanties. Our mantra is "Fun and Friendship, Melody and Mirth"; we sing anything with a nautical theme and a good tune or a good lyric, but our priority is to enjoy ourselves and to entertain our audiences. We give our time for free to support Festivals or charity fundraising events. We are also available to sing at private functions - all we ask in return is a reasonable donation to support our chosen charity.
100% of the money we raise goes to support the excellent work of the Teenage Cancer Trust (Charity# 1062559).
We don't claim to be Bristol's best or Bristol's brightest shanty crew. We just know that we "arrrrgh!"
If you wish to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust, please click on the button below
The Crew was founded by Ian (Nobby) Dye and Steve (The Rev) Hawkins in February 2022. Nobby has been singing shanties since 1972 and has been singing with Rev since they met and became shipmates in 1985. The two incorrigible rogues recently found themselves marooned, but encountered a few more shipwrecked sailors washed up on the shore. These like-minded souls were soon press-ganged into service and so Skipper, Fish, Art, Paddles, Chuffer, Doc, Old Bill and Ash duly joined the crew.
Over a short period we have become not just a Shanty Crew but a group of friends who simply enjoy each other’s company, singing our hearts out together and dressing up as sailors.
Whether the weather be stormy or balmy, the seas rough or calm we can be found singing Shanties and Songs of the Sea in pubs, folk clubs and at Shanty Festivals. Nobby even acts as resident composer and has written some wonderful songs around Bristol’s strong sea faring tradition such as Welsh Back Quay, Walton Bay and Bristol Johnny. Humour is a key part of our performances (and our rehearsals!) - we like nothing more than connecting with an audience and encouraging them to join in with the choruses of our songs. We are a group of friends who love to sing shanties and play our part in sharing and keeping alive these wonderful songs from the days of sail and having a few pints and sharing a merry yarn at the same time.
Shanties (from the French Chanter - to sing) were the songs of the working seaman and were each suited to a task of work, for example Windlass where a shanty like Santy Anna would be used; Brake Pump - Leave her Johnny; Capstan - Rio Grande; Halyards - Blow the man down; Stamp’n’go - Roll the Old Chariot. Other songs called Forebitters were usually sung at leisure time, sometimes sitting around the Forebitts especially on a calm sea or in the Foc’sle. When work was needed at a particular task the Mate may be heard to shout "Well, who's the Nightingale among you?" in order for the Shantyman to rise up and begin singing a shanty suited to the task.
Stan Hugill, in his book "Sea Shanties" (Barrie and Jenkins,1977) points out that the Mate would have little prior knowledge of the experience or abilities of the seamen coming aboard from shore. "Seeing that they had been brought aboard by the Boarding House masters the evening before, most if not all in a state of drunkenness, for all he knew the whole raff might be nothing more than Shanghaid yokels with hayseeds in their ears, or crimped counter jumpers, pen pushers and boot-blacks, or just plain unwashed sailortown derelicts." This gives some idea of the ragged state of some crew aboard the old sailing vessels. Hugill goes on to give some idea of the Mate's reaction to the crowd: "Looking up from his sidelong inspection of the dripping links of the Anchor chain as, one by one, they slowly emerge from the muddy surface of the water, the mate,clapping his hands to his mouth with a roar like the Bull of Basham ,queries “Who's the bloody nightingale among yer? Aw ye men or are ye cawpses? If there’s a ruddy shantyman among yer lot of hobos, fer gawds sake strike a light will yer”, then the bellowing voice of a seaman would blast out a shanty, if the men sing right the ship goes right, the mate was then happy.
C.Fox Smith (A Book of Sea Shanties, Methuen, 1927) writes: "Everywhere one goes nowadays, one hears Sea Shanties…the feelings of some hairy Shellback of days gone by, if he were to be set down suddenly in a modern concert hall where a highly trained Artiste in what he would no doubt term a ‘B’iled shirt’ was giving a strictly bowdlerised rendering of one of his spiciest favourites, may be better imagined than described-very much mote pointed than polite." The average Victorian looked upon shanties, as upon the songs of the old countryside, as exceedingly vulgar and often unprintable. Ciceley Fox Smith published a under C.Fox Smith, possibly thinking that readers would not buy books about salty sailors written by a woman. I recommend you to read them if the opportunity arises. I have spent many hours in dusty old bookshops researching her writings. She has recently become quite popular again and books can be found on Abebooks.com I would wholeheartedly recommend the anthology of her poetic verse as a good place to start.
Since our very first gig on 28th May 2022, we have raised £23,827 from donations in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust
(figure updated as of 01/12/23)
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and made this possible.
Teenage Cancer Trust
(Charity # 1062559). www.teenagecancertrust.org
If you wish to donate, please click on the button below
Taken at our first rehearsal, this popular mid 19th century shanty relates to the war between the US and Mexico, whose armies were respectively led by by Generals Zachary Taylor and Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana.
The second clip from our first rehearsal features Doc’s favourite song to date and will definitely require a performance prop for Paddles.
The final taster from our first rehearsal, this is a homeward bound capstan shanty where the words can be adapted to match the home destination. It’s an energetic, celebratory song and a crowd-pleaser for audience and crew alike.
A clip from our first ever gig - a fundraiser buskathon for our local Hospital at the foot of the escalators in John Lewis
Nobby leads a rabble-rousing finale at the open Shanty night at the famous Llandoger Trow
An excerpt from a regular crowd-pleaser aboard the Sabrina.
A clip from one of the Rev's favourites, by the late, great Adge Cutler, filmed at the Tywardreath ShantyFest
"Grateful thanks for the fab performance and fun"
"Hope that your group will come again"
"Loved Pill, Pill. Being a Wurzels fan, it really floated my boat"
"We had an absolutely fabulous evening, it was such fun"
"You were all brilliant today. So many wow comments"
"Massive thanks to the Crew for a great fun experience"
"Much enjoyed and appreciated... we had a lot of fun"
"A fantastic afternoon, thank you to the boy band"
"Thanks for a great and joyful evening. Enjoyed it so much!"
"Thank you for a great afternoon's entertainment"
"Best UK shanty crew I have ever seen"
"A great night and what a finale!"
"Great songs, great atmosphere, thank you guys"
"You were amazing! Please come again next year."
"Great crew, great voices...perfectly sang in great harmony"
"You guys are amazing!"
"Loved your performance today! Great feel good vibe"
"Thank you for your wonderful work"