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Spalding area performers speak on sea shanty craze




They may date back to years ago, but singing sea shanties has suddenly become a viral craze on social media.

According to members of Spalding Folk Club, however, these popular collective folk songs have actually never gone away and are regularly performed in their group.

The hashtag ‘seashanty’ has been viewed over 2.4 billion times on the social media platform TikTok, with the songs gaining a new generation of fans.

Members of Spalding Folk Club performing in Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding before the pandemic. (44067535)
Members of Spalding Folk Club performing in Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding before the pandemic. (44067535)

It is thought to have been sparked by Scottish postman Nathan Evans performing his rousing renditions of old seafaring songs such as ‘What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?’

Liz Padgett, secretary and musician at Spalding Folk Club, said: “We sing plenty of sea shanties. They never went away. They are sung in every folk club around the country – whether near the coast or not. It is great to see them getting more media coverage.

“They are old songs but the people singing them in folk clubs are not necessarily old and we have lots and lots of younger performers who are keeping these songs alive for us.”

Members of Spalding Folk Club performing in Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding before the pandemic.
Members of Spalding Folk Club performing in Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding before the pandemic.

A young Meg McPartlin and Miranda Sykes (now fully established performers in their own rights) are among those who have been part of the club.

During lockdown, the club has been hosting weekly singarounds via the video conferencing site Zoom.

The meetings were previously held at Welland Yacht Club in Spalding so singaround host Paul Dickinson said: “We’ve put a nautical reference into the Zoom invites with titles such as ‘What Shall We Do With a Trending Shantyman?’ to be a little jovial.

Spalding Folk Club perfoming in Corby Glen before the pandemic. (44067533)
Spalding Folk Club perfoming in Corby Glen before the pandemic. (44067533)

“One guy comes and quite regularly sings shanty songs. He is part of a shanty group.”

With sea shanties historically being sung to bring crew workers together back in the day, now they are bringing some light relief and connecting people during the global pandemic.

Spalding’s Act II Theatre Company director, Karl Gernert, has often taught sea shanties to his students and used them in a production of Treasure Island. “These songs are timeless,” he said.

Act II director Karl Gernert often teaches sea shanties and has used them in a production of Treasure Island.
Act II director Karl Gernert often teaches sea shanties and has used them in a production of Treasure Island.

“I’m a big fan of storytelling, and rhymes and hymns are part of that. It certainly makes a change from some of the tinnier pop you have nowadays and if there is going to be a craze why not something wholesome like sea shanties!”

l Spalding Folk Club is always happy to hear from new members. You can contact the club at: spaldingfolkclub@gmail.com



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