FolkWorld Issue 43 11/2010; Live Report by Chris Ricketts

Shanty Slam
Festival Maritime
Bremen-Vegesack, 6-8 Aug 2010

English folk duo Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire had a fantastic time at the German Festival Maritime in Bremen-Vegesack. They really felt it necessary to publish their impressions as the shanty singing tradition is one which is slowly dying out.

Ricketts & Willshire

Ricketts & Willshire @ FolkWorld: FW#43

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Myself, Mark and our friend Martyn left England at 1am on Thursday 6th August. We had no idea what to expect from the festival at first but as soon as we arrived the kind hospitality recieved set our sites ahead for a fantastic time. We went out for our first night with the organisers of the Festival (as we were the first act to arrive) and had a great meal at the Strandlust hotel where some of the performances were to be held the next day. It was great to finally meet the people that had booked us Lutz, Patricia, Fritz, Kirsten and Gina the dog who had dedicated a year of their time to making the festival a huge success. We were also shown where we were staying that night and it was on a schooling ship called the Schulschiff, the setting was perfect and staying on the boat really got us in the mood for singing.

On the Friday we played at the Strandlust hotel and it was here we were first acquainted with Hooks and Crookes of Ireland a fantastic singing group along with Les Souilles who again were simply amazing. That night resulted in heavy drinking and later meeting up with Lutz, Kirsten and an amazing Polish singer called Pawel. We ended up talking the night (and early morning) away before deciding it was wise to get some sleep before our show on Saturday.

Saturday then came along and we played on a German Radio show call Nordwestradio, this was a fantastic experience. We then went street singing in the afternoon and finished with a set at the Strandlust Hotel. The night then ended up in the same manner as before but this time with an artist party where singers and groups from all over the world were singing and playing songs and everybody joined in. This was a great night and the sharing of songs and experience was invaluable.

On the Sunday we had 3 sets and were involved with what was called a Shantyslam. The two afternoon performances on the large stages were received excellently, resulting in encores both times. The people of the festival were so welcoming and lovely that this added to the whole festival experience and it was great to meet so many wonderful and fascinating people. That evening at the Shantyslam it was an absolute honor to be asked to lead one of the finale songs 'Leave Her Johnny' , a well known shanty song. This was the absolute highlight of the festival for me and the audience were superb and very large (between 3000-5000). It was during this perfomance that the audience lit sparklers and the fireworks display started. Being on stage at this moment was just incredible and an experience I will cherish forever. It was on the Sunday that we met more and more fantastic acts such as Act Of Mutiny, Armstrong's Patent, t'Sheepsfolk and Paddy's Passion from the Netherlands, La Bouline of France and the amazing Banana Boat from Poland. If you get a chance to check these groups out I highly recommend it!

I cannot thank enough the efforts of all the organisers Lutz, Patricia, Fritz, Kirsten and Gina the dog for giving myself and Mark the opportunity to play and putting us in contact with so many new friends and great artists. I really hope to see everyone again soon in the near future!

Hooks and Crookes Armstrong's Patent

Chris Ricketts, being a semi-finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk awards, teamed up with Mark Willshire in 2009 to form a new genre of folk music to bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Being born and bred in Portsmouth, their music has strong links with the city's naval history and they sing versions of many well know and not so well known sea shanties. Their debut album "Simple Folk" also showcases Chris's songwriting.

Photo Credits: (1) Chris Ricketts & Mark Willshire (2) Hooks and Crookes (3) Armstrong's Patent (from H&K and AP websites).

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