FREMANTLE’S sea shanty group the Lost Quays have been invited to perform at two of the world’s biggest maritime music festivals in Germany and the Netherlands.
“The organiser saw us perform here and thought we were great,” says the Quays’ Tim Darby.
“The Bie Daip festival in Appingedam is especially good for us as it’s the biggest of its kind in the Netherlands, with many of the top shanty groups from the UK and elsewhere playing there.”
The Quays are an 11-strong male choir based in Fremantle, belting out rollicking sea shanties that always get the audience pitching in.
Traditionally, shanties were sung as sailors worked together trimming the sails or hauling up the anchor.
“Originally all the crew would have sung in unison,” says the Quays’ Nick Eustance.
Sung by sailors around the world, the songs have a surprising similarity, and by today’s standards are politically incorrect.
There are plenty of songs about whaling, and Blow the Man Down is thought to refer to the rough treatment of slaves on board, or the practice of men press-ganged into service.
“And there’s the way the men treated women,” Darby’s partner, Shani Graham, tosses into the conversation.
“You have to recognise that and treat the songs appropriately,” Eustance responds.
A number of Lost Quays’ songs are written by its members, including Darby’s Marge the Giant Cephalopod, who’s just looking for someone to love, and Herman the Impaler and the vegan whaler:
“Well it’s not much fun, when your the son, of Herman the Impaler
And it just gets worse: It’s a bloody curse, when you’re a vegan whaler.”
You can catch them at the Maritime Museum on Victoria Quay, February 23, as part of the Perth Fringe Festival.
by JENNY D’ANGER