Beyond the Quay, a CD of sea songs by Tom and Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara Brown’s new album Beyond the Quay is
made up of sea songs

Tom and Barbara Brown are old friends, and I’m very pleased that they should should put out a CD of sea-songs. Songs connected with the sea  have been out of fashion around the folk scene’s clubs and festivals for far too long in this country.

Interestingly, even though I’ve recently heard the claim that sea shanties are the new Rock’n’Roll, there are none here. Instead, this CD is full of songs about ships, ports, sailors, and of course heroes and villains. Most are traditional and most belong to the West Country.

Tom and Barbara’s performances are marked by some very effective harmony singing, of which there are two excellent examples here: Young Susan and a version of The Death of Nelson to a tune learned by the couple from traditional source singer George Dunn of Staffordshire, with additional verses from the broadside ballad.

Another aspect of this disk that I particularly like is that it includes a very nice but less well known version of one of my favourites, The Bold Princess Royal. Tom’s version from Bristol is much harder to sing than the one I know from Sam Larner so much so that he gets extra points from me for making an excellent job of it. I gather it came originally from a singer called Albert Lightfoot.

In the interests of historical veracity I should explain that Tom’s version has the same problem as Larner’s – he has the British ship being chased to windward, which seems unlikely as the Moorish pirates’ xebecs were far better to windward than the British boats during the era being described.

And I should also add that Tom and Barbara have been lucky enough to be supported on this CD by our old friend Keith Kendrick and young musicians and singers Emily and Hazel Askew.

Copies of Beyond the Quay are available direct from Doug Bailey at WildGoose Studios and from folk music CD stockists generally. While you’re over at Doug’s emporium, do take a look at some of the other recordings he has on offer including Keith Kendrick’s recent CD Songs from the Derbyshire Coast.

Further information about Tom and Barbara Brown and a programme of their performances and general doings is available from their website .

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Narrowboat and canal videos from fender maker Trafalgar

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Narrowboat owner Barry McGuigan talks about his boats Narrowboat trip from Whaley to Buggsworth Basin

The British canal system is an astonishing web of narrow man-made waterways carrying long low-powered narrowboats that chug along at walking speed. The contrast with the pace of modern life could not be more complete, and so hiring a narrowboat makes for a great, peaceful day out or holiday.

So I thought I should link to these videos put up by Trafalgar Marine Services showing something of the canal around their base in Derbyshire. In the first, Brian McGuigan talks about his 70-year old motor narrow boat and butty, and the second provides a slightly scary time-lapse video of a run from Whaley Bridge to Buggsworth Basin. These boats don’t go this fast, let me tell you!

By the way, we last came across Trafalgar when the company’s Michael Dawson sent us an illustrated explanation of how to make a moustache or u-bow fender.

By the way, I’ve discovered this site selling old-style narrowboat and barge plans. There’s even a set for a Humber Keel! Now that might be a present idea for next Christmas!

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More great songs from Keith Kendrick and friends

Tonight, I think it’s time for a couple more sea songs from the great Keith Kendrick.

The Lowlands of Holland is from his latest CD on the Wildgoose label Songs from the Derbyshire Coast; it’s not a shanty, but a forebitter and designed for a much more contemplative purpose.

The second, South Australia from the album All Tied Up puts us straight back into shanty territory. Keith sings here with the singing trio Three Sheets to the Wind, a top-drawer example of how to perform maritime music for entertainment without betraying the authenticity of the genre. Their approach is raucous yet harmonious and with lashings of zany humour – and, like Keith himself, they are in demand for concerts all over the world.

Lowlands of Holland.mp3
South Australia.mp3

Songs from the Derbyshire Coast and All Tied Up are available from Keith’s CD site:

Keith Kendrick, singer of sea songs and concertina player

Photo by Andrew D C Basford (2006)

sea songs, chanties, chanteys, forebitters