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Folk music and shanty songs at the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

Shanty and folk music is performed throughout the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival on three stages as the town celebrates its proud maritime past and maritime future. Shantry songs were traditionally sung by sailors as they raised the mainsheet and set sail on their long journeys at sea.

The musical programme is managed by Great Yarmouth based Sue and John Griffiths who have been performing as shanty singers, The Mollyhawks, since the late 1990s.

Pick up a souvenir guide on your way into the Maritime Festival for just £1 with a programme of events for each of the three stages and make sure you don't miss your favourite band.

Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis

Tom's repertoire, from traditional shanties to songs inspired by his own seafaring background, recruits his audience for a voyage by turns reflective, dramatic and humorous. Born in Northern Ireland, Tom's Celtic heritage is obvious in his clear, strong voice, evoking quiet sorrow for a fisherman lost to the sea just as honestly as it powers out a shanty "to be heard above the gales."

With songs that have become folk standards; known and sung wherever great choruses ring out; Tom accompanies himself on button accordion and ukulele. 

Fore 'n' Aft

Four ' n' Aft

Chris Lock, Ian Tupling, Helen Pitt and Steve Dawes are a four-strong acapella group who sing in four-part harmony and have appeared twice before at the festival. Their maritime repertoire consists of contemporary and traditional shanties and sea songs sung in their distinctive and unique harmony style.

They have sung at festivals across Europe, performing a mix of contemporary and traditional shanties and sea songs with a reputation for a powerful and rich sound.

The group has a great sense of fun and love to invite the audience to join in with them on the choruses.

Blakeney Old Wild Rovers

Blakeney Old Wild Rovers

This north Norfolk based shanty and folk band formed in 1999 whose repertoire runs from traditional shanties and sea songs to original and humorous songs about our local area. The group have raised nearly £200,000 for a range of national and local charities. They perform a mix of traditional tunes to humorous local songs at festivals, events and one-off concerts as well as in pubs in north Norfolk.

The current Blakeney Old Wild Rovers line-up includes: Pip Banham, John Dunkerton, Peter Fisher, Phil Harrison, Tom Harrison, Gary Mears, Robbie Nash, Brin Siller, Barrie Slegg & Peter Thompson. Regular guest players include Ian Chandler & Anne Humphreys.

Jenkin's Ear

Jenkins Ear

Since their conception in January 1992, this passionate band of Dave Jolly, Ian Palmer, Rob McGhee and Pete Purslow, have built up a large repertoire of British, American and French shanties, forebitters and sea songs and have performed at regattas, festivals and folk clubs in England, France, Germany and the Channel Islands.

Acapella work songs, tastefully accompanied forebitters and historically accurate anecdotes are delivered with power and passion, harmony and humour, blending authenticity with entertainment and humourous anecdotes.

El Pony Pisador

El Pony Pisador

This new five-strong Spanish folk group, El Pony Pisador, roughly translated as The Prancing Pony, are all set to entertain with rhythms and melodies from traditional Irish tunes, to sea shanties, havaneres, tuvan throat singing, tarantellas and yodelling from around the world.

This great young band from Barcelona includes Adrià Vila, Guillem Codern, Miquel Pérez, Martí Selga and Ramon Anglad. Many of the songs they will perform are featured on their recently released debut album, Yarr’s i Trons!



Did you know that a baggyrinkle is defined as 'a homemade substance to prevent chafe on sails from lifts, stays and crosstrees during long periods of sail'?

Hailing from Swansea and making their second appearance at the festival, the 'Baggies' are a nine-piece shanty group who sing a traditional repetoire in three-part harmony. Watch out for contemporary self-penned songs and some Welsh language songs too.

Bob Fox

Bob Fox
Bob has toured the world for 40 years mostly solo but also alongside musical heavyweights such as Ralph McTell and Fairport Convention. The guitarist and melodeon player has twice been nominated as Best Folk Singer in the BBC Folk Awards. Bob also played the role of Songman in the award winning stage production of WarHorse.

A favourite song - but no guest appearance by Derek Ryan at the festival that we know of!

Capstan Full Strength

Capstan Full Strength

This popular group of musicians and singers will be hosting the all-day sing-a-round in Horatio's bar, joining in with their own fabulous renditions and additional rousing choruses for all the performing artists.

The group got together in 1998 and have sung at festivals all over the world. Singing at the Maritime Festival will be John White, Mike Hacott, Rebeca Hacott and Rob Picton.

Inner State

Inner State on stage

Much loved festival regulars, duo Christine Bissell and Andy Andews perform musical spots on stage ranging from skiffle to rock and roll.

You'll also spot them as a walkabout mini theatre company, with their performance style leaning towards historical and maritime related nonsense, usually masquarading as a boat, often with a naughty seagull in tow - look out for your handbag! Watch them and smile. 



Great Yarmouth based shanty duo John and Sue Griffiths, who devise the festival music programme, also perform as the Mollyhawks duo.

They perform an acapella harmony to old and new shanties and songs of the sea.

Maritime and shanty music on three stages at the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

Waves of seafaring folk music will fill the salty air at Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival this September.

The major free two-day event, which is set to attract 30,000 people to the resort’s river port over the second weekend in September, is a showcase for the area’s nautical history - which includes links to Lord Nelson and being a key hub in the heydays of the herring industry.

Shanty songs were traditionally sung by sailors as they hauled up the sails as they set off to sea – but the timeless tunes remain popular today with their blend of lilting tunes and folksy words harking back to bygone days on the briny.

The music is an integral part of the festival, adding to the atmosphere at the quayside, as performers take to three stages alongside the array of historic and modern ships providing static displays and pleasure trips as the town showcases its maritime past, present and future.

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