Going up a Quay

The Lost Quays

THE audience at a Fremantle Heritage Festival sea shanty concert will be transported to a “world of hauling and heaving” says one of the organisers.

Local shanty enthusiasts Lost Quays are performing in Tall Ships and Tall Tales at the Western Australian Shipwreck Museum, on May 1.

Shanty fancier Nick Eustance says the Quays have been together for more than five years, and had a performance for last year’s festival planned before its Covid cancellation.

“It was touch and go for a minute,” said Eustance about last weekend’s lockdown.

The group will be performing in the museum’s Store House, an intimate and atmospheric limestone setting.

Eustance says they’re determined to transport attendees “to a world of hauling and heaving on deck, of storms and wrecks, and of weary souls with a wistful longing for home” through classics such as Nelson’s Blood and Leave Her Johnny.

“There’s gonna be quite a mix, I suspect two-thirds will be traditional and a scattering of originals.”

The Quays do make adjustments to the traditional sea shanty singing style and even make some word changes.

“We change words with all sorts of things; we aren’t precious about things … but they need to have the life still in them.”

Harmonising and discussing the history between songs are signature changes the group makes; “adapting as all folk songs should”.

Eustance said shanties were originally sung to boost morale on ships during hard labor, but it did more than lift spirits.


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