About this event
In partnership with The DiElle Trio, supporting live and local musicians, The Pallant Centre brings this regular musical and singing event to be held on the first Saturday of each month (mostly 😉
Hosts: The DiElle Trio: John Gleadall, Chris Wood and DiElle.
Community Act: The Igloo Choir – with their fabulous costumes and fun loving show, The Igloo Choir will bring a sprinkle of Christmas to the December show.
Headline Act: The Portsmouth Shanty Men
The Portsmouth Shantymen were originally formed in 1978, at the request of the organisers of Christchurch Folk Festival. In those dim and distant days, most festivals ran shanty singarounds as part of the pub session scene and that year the group booked to host the Christchurch sessions had to pull out at very short notice. Rather than cancel the sessions outright, the organisers contacted club organisers in Portsmouth, reasoning (falsely as it turned out) that as the South Coast’s premier Naval base, the city would have a strong tradition of shanty singing. The word was quickly passed around the Portsmouth clubs and various resident singers were asked to help out in return for a free festival ticket. Thus it was that a motley crew, including Sooty Broughton, Tom Lewis, Bernard Potter, Brian Dennett, Nick Gough and Brian Ingham arrived in Christchurch on a sunny Friday evening to find themselves billed as The Portsmouth Shantymen.
The rest of the weekend’s memories tend to be blurred in an alcoholic haze, but we remember that we had a good time and no-one actually threw anything at us!
And that was that. We all went our separate ways and thought nothing further of it. That lasted only a couple of years until the advent of the late lamented Folk Afloat festival. The folk world had started to take a renewed interest in shanties, with artists such as Johnny Collins and Jim Mageean leading the way, so it seemed natural to set a concert of maritime music aboard ship, in this case the hulk of H.M.S. Foudrouyant in Portsmouth Harbour. The Portsmouth Shantymen were asked to re-form to provide ‘interval’ music as people arrived aboard and during the beer breaks. By this time Tom Lewis and Bernard Potter had moved on to richer pastures and Brian Dennett was deeply involved in the organisation of Folk Afloat. Peter Watkinson was invited to join us and for the next couple of years we carried on in this fashion, meeting up once a year to perform on Foudrouyant. Then someone took a rather large gamble and actually offered us a spot during the main concert. We quickly co-opted Pete Luscombe to join us and never looked back.
As our repertoire increased, we started performing in folk clubs, still singing shanties almost exclusively. This continued until the Australian Bi-Centennial celebrations in 1987, when we were asked by Portsmouth City Council to record music for an audio-visual display in the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth.
This music was also released as an EP. About this time, Pete Watkinson moved away from Portsmouth and left the Shantymen, leaving behind the ‘classic’ line-up of Pete and Nick, plus Brian Ingham and Sooty Broughton, both now sadly no longer with us . This line-up was to persist for over 20 years. We spent a fair bit of that summer singing aboard the various ships that were forming the replica First Fleet, including a very early morning spot on Radio 2’s Derek Jameson’s Breakfast Show.
Since that time, Britain seems to have woken up to its proud Maritime Heritage and shanty singing is now seen as an integral part of any Maritime, as well as Folk Festival. We have appeared at Liverpool, Bristol, Swansea, Lancaster, Hull, Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, Portsmouth New Hampshire in the USA and Brest in Brittany as well as many folk festivals, folk clubs, conferences, a book launch for author Douglas Reeman, sessions on HMS Victory/Warrior and many more events, too various to mention here.
We have also extended our range and although we are still known as The Portsmouth Shantymen we by no means restrict ourselves solely to shanties and songs of the sea. We have a variety of land based songs in our repertoire; if it can be harmonised we’ll give it a go!