Seaspeak: Songs and Stories From The National Maritime Museum

Seaspeak is a project conceived and created by 2018 NMM Musician in Residence Joe Danks. It has seen him create an artistic, musical response to the National Maritime Museum's vast collection in the form of a 10 song album. This project has been a collaboration between The National Maritime Museum, The English Folk Dance and Song Society and Help Musicians UK.

Working closely with The National Maritime Museum has been a great honour and privilege. The collection at the Museum and in The Caird Library are the richest stimulus imaginable for a songwriter and arranger, and I feel honoured to have recorded songs old, new and previously undiscovered for this project.

Seaspeak is an album created and conceived at the museum and recorded over two days in The Orangery at The Queens House. It was an immense pleasure recording in this unique space, and we really feel we have captured something special.

Sea Fever


The first song to be shared from the album is called Sea Fever, and is in fact two poems from John Masefield's much loved 'Salt-water Poems & Ballads' collection set to original music. I first wrote this chorus melody (from the poem Sea Fever), and was singing it for weeks before I sat down to finish the verses. I found the poem Roadways in the Masefield collection and decided it would work as one complete lyric. I took inspiration from a 1921 setting of the poem by German Composer Hermann Löhr. It's almost indistinguishable now but it was a key part of the writing process. This track is the opening track from Seaspeak, scheduled for release in June 2019.

Seaspeak behind the scenes

I will be performing the album in its entirety live in the Micheal Edwards Studio Theatre aboard the Cutty Sark on 25 April. 

It is so exciting to be performing in this unique and special venue, and I really believe the songs will be lifted by our beautiful surroundings. I will be performing the album with the Seaspeak musicians Danny Pedler (Accordian, Hurdy Gurdy), Sarah Matthews (Fiddle, Viola, Vocals) and Jean Kelly (Lever Harp); we cannot wait to fill the hold with music. I am also beyond excited to share the stage with fellow musician in residence Aimee Leonard and her specially assembled choir. Her residency has been fascinating to observe and I can't wait to hear the songs she has uncovered.

Join National Maritime Museum Musicians in residence Joe Danks & Aimee Leonard in a celebration of songs and stories connected to Greenwich, the museum and the sea.

This concert will serve as both an album launch for Joe’s album 'Seaspeak' and a celebration of the EFDSS Musicians in Museums project at The National Maritime Museum. The wide breadth of material and stunning surroundings will make this an unforgettable evening of music at The Michael Edwards Studio Theatre.

Advance copies of Seaspeak will be availble on the night. Find out more and get your tickets here