How Norfolk shantymen got involved in viral TikTok trend

The recent increased interest in shanties has led Sheringham Shantymen, which formed in 1988, to release their own version...

The recent increased interest in shanties has led Sheringham Shantymen, which formed in 1988, to release their own version of the whaling song, The Wellerman - Credit: Sheringham Shantymen

Why do things go viral on the internet? The simplest answer is they just do. That's the only way to explain why millions of people around the world are now hooked on sea shanties.

In December 2020, Scottish postman, Nathan Evans, uploaded a rendition of the 19th-century New Zealand whaling song ‘Wellerman’ and since then, sea shanties have gone viral on TikTok with many other musicians joining in.

The recent increased interest has led Sheringham Shantymen, which formed in 1988, to release their own version of the whaling song.

Brian Farrow, founder member and musical director, said the recent fascination with sea shanties was "superb".

Sheringham Shantymen who are gearing up for the final concert celebrating their 25th anniversary. Pi

Sheringham Shantymen who are gearing up for the final concert celebrating their 25th anniversary. Picture: CHRISTAYLORPHOTO.CO.UK - Credit: Archant

He said: "Shanties have been around for hundreds of years and we have been singing them for more than 30 years.

"I think the thing is, they're simple songs, they are essentially working songs to help people do what was a really, really hard job.

"They brought people together then and they're doing the exact same thing now with a much younger audience."

The Shantymen on Sheringham beach. Picture: CHRISTAYLORPHOTO.CO.UK

The Shantymen on Sheringham beach. Picture: CHRISTAYLORPHOTO.CO.UK - Credit: Archant

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In 1988 a group of lifeboat men formed a shanty singing group to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the private sailing and pulling Sheringham lifeboat the ‘Augusta’.

Since then the shantymen have travelled widely throughout the UK and Ireland supporting lifeboat stations in their fundraising efforts.

Mr Farrow said: "The beauty of shanties is you do not have to be a fantastic singer, The Wellerman is a song that everyday people can sing.

"We vary from the 20s to the 70s and the fact we have kept going for 30 years means a lot for the youngsters who are coming on board and learning the ways."

The Shantymen were due to be playing multiple events last year to celebrate 31 years, but the events had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since lockdown struck, the group have been recording shanties from their own homes and uploading them onto their Facebook page and YouTube channel.

"The response has been brilliant," Mr Farrow said.


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