A stellar crew of the UK’s top sea musicians will be performing, and competing with budding songwriters for the coveted ‘Song for the Sea’ on 18 – 19 May during Whitby’s new Fish & Ships Festival, supported by Seafish, in what will become one of Britain’s largest gatherings of maritime musicians this year.

Free for anyone to enter, Whitby’s song competition will be the thrilling finale to a weekend which includes over 40 hours of free, live music non-stop from morning to night, all inspired by Whitby’s ancient sea-faring way of life and fishing industry – its fish and ships. 

At the festival, visitors will be able to hear some of the world’s leading shanty-singers, balladeers, folk instrumentalists and songwriters, all specialists in sea music, performing alongside talented locals and schoolchildren in an extraordinary tribute to Whitby’s maritime culture.

“This festival is not just about celebrating the past, but also the future of Whitby as a fishing town,” explains Janet Deacon, Tourism & Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome to Yorkshire.  “That’s why the Song for the Sea competition is so special, casting a light not just on Whitby’s fishing – from its boat-building to some of Britain’s best fish restaurants - but how seafaring also inspires the town’s culture, art and music, today.  The festival is celebrating a way of life!”

Competition organiser Richard Grainger, one of Britain’s leading songwriters and performers, says: “We’re an island nation, and sea music connects anyone who dreams of wandering the waves, from surfers to sailors, so we’re encouraging everyone – young or old – to have a go at composing a new Song for the Sea, celebrating Whitby as a fishing town, a maritime centre, and a place to visit, work or simply call home. The winner will get to perform their song on the main stage as part of the festival’s finale later that day, with the honour of appearing alongside some of the greats of the UK’s sea music scene, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for any singer or songwriter.”

The Song for the Sea competition is free for everyone to enter, but as spaces are in demand it’s a good idea to register in advance at richardgrainger@gmx.co.uk, stating the competitor’s name and song title.  The competition will take place on Sunday 19 May, 12 – 2pm at Whitby Library, with the winner chosen by a panel of four musical experts.  All songs must be acoustic and pay tribute to Whitby, its maritime heritage and fishing industry.

Richard adds: “Sea songs are the folk songs of the sea and are quite different from many of the popular hits you might hear on the radio.  They resonate with the sounds of the sea, and the joy and lament of the mariner.  The music is rooted in tradition, and so on the one hand the judges will be looking for songs which honour this legacy; but they also recognise that it’s a music that constantly evolves – just like our relationship with the sea, so we’re also seeking creative songwriters who can bring something different, musically and lyrically.  It can even be about fish and chips!  What’s most important is that the song captures the essence of the sea and connects us, through the music, to Whitby’s fishing and maritime heritage.  There’s been a local sea-song competition in Whitby for years, and winning the title has become highly-prized by professional musicians, so we’re really excited that Song for the Sea is becoming such an important part of Whitby’s new Fish & Ships Festival, showcasing sea music to a much wider audience than ever before – and opening up the competition to new talent.  We can’t wait to enjoy the show!”

Alongside sensational seafood cooking and demos, madcap street entertainment, stunning art-works, heritage displays, and a firework finale, the weekend’s headline music acts include one of Britain’s leading folk singers and songwriters Richard Grainger, who has been a musical ambassador for Whitby and the surrounding region for over 30 years.  His latest album was included in FRUK’s Best Albums of the Year.  As well as organising the musical line-up for the festival, he will perform his unique solo collection of Whitby songs during the weekend – tales of Whitby's whalers, fisher-folk, mariners and ships, which illustrate the unique character of the town through the years, as well as taking the stage with the Endeavour Shantymen.  Especially for the festival, he will also be joined by one of the folk world’s great accordion players, Chris Parkinson and Fiddler Tom McConville to perform as the Whitby Wailers.

Festival headliners include Grimsby-based John Conolly, one of the country’s top sea song writers and performers; Malcolm Ward from Kent, a UK festival favourite with a vast repertoire of sea songs and shanties; the John Ward Trio from East Anglia, with their memorably show-stopping and thought-provoking songs, capturing the spirit of the times; and Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham from Derbyshire, with their special tribute to ‘Yankee John’, the first and and probably last of the great Shantymen.  Visitors will also be able to enjoy the sounds of UK favourites such as South Yorkshire shanty crew Monkey’s Fist; Marske Fishermen’s Choir, the Men of Staithes; Newcastle fiddler Tom McConville; and Dick Miles, a champion of English  & Irish traditional sea music.
 
Whitby’s Fish & Ships free music timetable includes:

  • 17 May, 7pm ‘All Aboard’ festival opening concert at Whitby Brewery
  • 18 May, 10am – 10pm at Dockend
  • 18 May, 1.30pm – 3.30pm at Whitby Abbey
  • 18 May, 11.00am – 6.00pm at Whitby Brewery, including Open Session of sea songs and shanties from 11am, plus an extra evening gig from 7.30 – 10.00pm
  • 18 May, 2.00 – 3.00pm at Whitby Library
  • 19 May, 10.30am – 5.00pm at Dockend
  • 19 May, 11.00am – 6.30pm at Whitby Brewery, including an Open Session of sea songs and shanties from 11.00am.
  • 19 May, 12.00 noon – 2.00pm Song for the Sea competition

There are also special Backyard Concerts (£ticketed) on 17 and 18 May at 7.30pm in Sander’s Yard Bistro, starring festival headliners.

For more details about Whitby’s Fish & Ships Festival on 18 – 19 May 2019, visit www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com.  This is the official Scarborough Borough Council’s tourist board website for the Yorkshire Coast, promoting the famous holiday resorts of Whitby, Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington, the North York Moors National Park and the picturesque coastal villages dotted along the East Coast of England. 

For more information and to book your stay along the Yorkshire Coast, visit www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com or talk to the friendly, dedicated team at the Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636.  To find out more about the county of Yorkshire as a whole, visit www.yorkshire.com

ENDS



For further media information, biographies, photographs, a full festival programme or photographs, or to request a press trip, please contact:
Samantha Orange or Nicola Bexon
Pyper York Limited
Tel:         01904 500698
Email:    sam@pyperyork.co.uk or nicola@pyperyork.co.uk

About Seafish
Seafish is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) set up to support the £10 billion UK seafood industry.

Its vision is for a thriving UK seafood industry and it offers a unique, industry-wide outlook, working in partnership with all parts of the seafood industry across the UK to unite the industry in its vision. This includes everyone involved in the seafood journey - from when it’s caught to when it’s bought – fishermen, processors, wholesales, food service, retailers and the end consumers.

Seafish also actively works beyond its traditional stakeholder base, with universities, research institutes, public bodies and other food industries to leverage additional value for the seafood sector.

More information about Seafish and its work is available at www.seafish.org