Essential Information

Type Evenings & Lates
Date and Times 30 March & 6 April | 7-8pm
Prices Pay what you can

Have you noticed the rise in sea shanties recently? Is this new lease of life a direct response to lockdowns during the global pandemic as it mirrors the experience of spending months at sea?

One thing we can all agree on is the need for entertainment – so please join us as we celebrate traditional maritime song and dance, and delve deeper into the origins, usage and meanings of the sea shanty.

Seaspeak – songs, stories & dance from the National Maritime Museum 

Tuesday 30 March - show starts at 7pm

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In this special live event, former National Maritime Museum musician in residence Joe Danks will perform songs from his upcoming album 'Seaspeak' alongside fiddle player Sarah Matthews. 

'Seaspeak' was recorded on site and features songs and tunes that bring to life some of Royal Museums Greenwich's most affecting stories.

The evening will also feature Simon Harmer, a traditional step dancer and researcher. Simon will be sharing some of his research into traditional maritime step dance and performing live alongside fiddle player Lewis Wood.


A black and white etching of a raucous scene below decks, with sailors sitting round a fireplace
Saturday Night at Sea (PAI9813, © National Maritime Museum)

Sea shanty special

Tuesday 6 April - show starts at 7pm

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A mixture of live and video performances sprinkled with a hearty discussion on all things sea shanty.

We look at some of the history associated with sea shanties, dissecting lyrics to explore their meanings, plus finding out how they are adapted to give them a contemporary flavour. All washed down with lots of performance and a tot of rum! 

Speakers and performers: Jessica Foster, Chris Wilson and Anita Reilly from The London Sea Shanty Collective, and Dr. Jessica Floyd.

Useful info

How to book and join our sessions

About the performers

Joe Danks is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Wirksworth, Derbyshire. A dynamic and engaging performer, Joe has enthralled audiences across the UK and Europe with his explosive energy and sensitive, skilful musicianship. In 2018, Joe was chosen as one of The English Folk Dance & Song Society's 'Musicians In Museums' and the genesis of his album 'Seaspeak' (2021) began. 

Sarah Matthews  is a folk musician, singer, composer and songwriter based in Derby. She performs solo, and as a member of Intarsia, Moirai and Doug Eunson & Sarah Matthews. She has a wide repertoire of traditional tunes & songs, and writes wonderful original music too. Sarah plays fiddle and viola on the Seaspeak album.  

Simon Harmer is a step dance performer, teacher and researcher from Portsmouth. He first learned clog dancing when he was 18 and later went on to explore step dance styles from North America. More recently he has researched the step dancing of the southern coastal counties of England. A particular area of interest is finding out what sailors might have danced on board ship using written descriptions and illustrations.  

Lewis Wood is a folk violinist, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Worcester, currently based in Hampshire. He is a member of folk award nominees 'Granny's Attic' and is steeped in the English Fiddle tradition. His new album 'Footwork' will feature tunes written specifically for different English step dance styles.  


A group shot of the London Sea Shanty Collective

The London Sea Shanty Collective (above) were founded in 2017, though a good number of them have been singing together for far longer. The group writes and adapt maritime songs, sometimes with a contemporary twist. As well as English they sing in French, Swedish, Breton, Welsh and Cornish, and have performed in such venues as the British Library, British Museum and Mycenae House in London, and at festivals from Harwich to Hull to County Cork. 

The Collective rehearses each week and loves the togetherness that singing brings them as they work together to keep sea shanties alive. The group is a no-audition community choir, open to all and made up of a mix of women and men of all ages from around the world, committed to social justice and equality. 

Dr. Jessica Floyd is an Associate Professor of English at the Community College Baltimore County in Essex, MD (US). Her research investigates bawdy cultural artifacts for what they represent about gender, sexuality, and identity. Dr. Floyd completed her doctoral work at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she analysed bawdy chantey narratives using an interdisciplinary lens, successfully defending Jib-boom, Barrels, and Dead-eyes: Singing Sex in Sea Chanteys in 2017. Dr. Floyd is currently in the process of completing a book manuscript on the narratives of chanteys and is actively involved in publishing work that treats cultural artifacts as literary objects.

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