Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 613

18 AUGUST 202 2 9 NEWS&VI EWS Photography: Entertainment Films, George Baggaley, James Hole, Hulton Archive/Getty Images Sea shanties have been dubbed ‘the rock ’n’ roll of 1752’, but even on dry land they couldn’t bemore in vogue. They’ve trended on social media, topped the charts and got the world harmonising. And their revival was kickstarted by folk group Fisherman’s Friends, who’ve sung for more than 25 years on the harbour at Port Isaac in Cornwall. In 2010, they netted a record deal which saw thembecome the first traditional folk act with a UKTop 10 album. In 2011, they played on the same stage as Beyoncé at Glastonbury, an occasion depicted in Fisherman’s Friends: One And All, the sequel to 2019’s hit filmabout their discovery, which is in cinemas from tomorrow (19 August). Amusical is due to set sail for theatres from 1 September. So why are shanties increasingly popular? “They’re ripe for amateurs, that’s the lovely thing. You don’t need a voice,” says James Purefoy, star of the two films, who was taught by the group in their local, The Golden Lion. (Yes, rehearsals were “a little bit lubricated”, he admits) “Shanties have a good verse and incredible rhythm, so they’re easy to pick up,” he adds. “If you can growl and remember the lines, you’re away. They’re liberating to sing, too. Theymake people happy. And somany are sort of in our DNA as British people. Songs like Drunken Sailor, I’ve been singing since I was a kid.” Their simplicity is due to their original use – synchronising a ship’s crew for tasks such as raising sails or pulling up anchor, while injecting spirit, camaraderie and fun into proceedings. “The rhythmand pace of the song depended on the nature of the work,” explains Jon Cleave, the Fisherman’s ‘Shanties have a good verse and incredible rhythm... They’re liberating to sing, too. They make people happy’ Hello again, sailor As the world’s oldest ‘buoy band’ returns in the sequel to hit 2019 movie Fisherman’s Friends, Katherine Hassell explains why sea shanties are riding the crest of a musical wave Gary Barlow, BrianMay and Ant &Dec. Our collective spirits needed a lift as we pulled together against Covid. Nathan’s interpretation of Bristol folk quartet The Longest Johns’ 2018 recording was a UK number one. It continued a global shanty craze bolstered by The Longest Johns, who first tried singing them in their early twenties at a barbecue after hearing Fisherman’s Friends. “We fell in love with this incredible sound,” says band member Jonathan ‘JD’ Darley. “The human voice is the best instrument and hearing people sing in harmony is magical. It ended up being our mission – how to get this music in front of people andmake them realise it’s cool.” The answer was gaming. The band sang while playing pirates in action-adventure game Sea of Thieves and posted footage on YouTube. Their rendition of 19th-century New Zealand whaling song Wellerman went viral multiple times on social media. Nathan Evans then answered a fan request to cover it on TikTok. “And that was it,” says JD. “It exploded.” The Longest Johns invited fans to video themselves singing their track (itself a UK number 37) for a YouTube singalong, theWellermanCommunity Project. Some 6,500 did, including sailors, children and signers for the deaf. “I was thrilled to see people embrace Wellerman,” says Jon Cleave, “because Fisherman’s Friends have always had a diversity in the ages of people that enjoy our music. People have come to Port Isaac since they were children to listen to us. Now they’re bringing their kids and say: ‘They like to listen to your CDs all the way. We’ve had six hours’ worth!’” he adds. James Purefoy’s family is no di erent. “I’ve got kids – Ned and Kit are five – and if we try putting on anythingmore sophisticated than the albumof themovie, they get very cross,” he grins. “They want to sing shanties all the time.” The Longest Johns’ latest album, Smoke &Oakum, is out now Friend with the walrus moustache. “If you’re acting against tide and weather to heave up amassive anchor, it could take half a day, so these songs have repetitive rhythms and dozens of verses. A good shantyman was worth his weight in gold as the fine tuner of the engine – the engine being themen [it was mostlymen on board]. He kept themamused and in time.” This goes some way to explaining why ScotsmanNathan Evans went viral last year singing Wellerman on TikTok. And why thousands joined in with the harmonising, including ship shape Clockwise from left: James Purefoy (third from right) in Fisherman’s Friends: One and All; Jon Cleave ( front row, second from left) and the rest of the Fisherman’s Friends; The Longest Johns, including Jonathan Darley ( left); a scene from 19th-century ships, where sailors sang sea shanties as they worked