Shanty festival on song

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
The Albany Shantymen played at The Earl Of Spencer Tuesday night.
Camera IconThe Albany Shantymen played at The Earl Of Spencer Tuesday night. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Australia’s first shanty festival is about to take place in Albany in the form of the Albany International Folk ‘N’ Shanty Festival.

Organiser Gary Greenwald said he was shocked when he moved in 2015 to Australia, a nation rich in maritime history, and realised there was no shanty festival.

A stellar line-up of shanty groups from as far away as the UK has been confirmed for the free event, which could become an Albany favourite.

Mr Greenwald, founder of The Albany Shantymen, said the Kimbers Men from the UK were the most distant and best-known group bound for Albany shores.

“When I got to Australia having sung shanties in the UK, to get here and find a country that has such a vast 400 years of maritime history had no shanty festival was such a strange thing,” he said.

“There are so many shanties about Australia and these festivals are very popular in the US, Canada and Europe,” he said.

“Having a shanty festival in Australia and Albany is a big way of reconnecting people with a big chunk of their history and something that is quite culturally important to people.”

Albany will be alive with the sound of the seafaring songs hosted at Liberte, Six Degrees, Earl of Spencer, the Boatshed, the Museum Co-Op and the Entertainment Centre.

“The local pubs, the local venues are going to get the money going through the tills and that is what I wanted,” Mr Greenwald said.

“I believe that the Kimbers Men are the best shanty singers in the world at the moment — and because they have such massive international following it has highlighted the Albany festival all over the world.

“On the back of them coming we have had people enquiring — both singers and to watch — about coming to Albany.

“If the city embraces this, and you could get the Leeuwin to come to town at the same time, potentially we have an opportunity where people come to Albany for the Shanty Festival and they can go whale watching and do all these maritime activities as a package.”The Albany Shantymen and the Shantylillies will be singing alongside The Anchormen from Bunbury, the Kat ‘n’ Nine Crew from Katanning and more from across the country.

Mr Greenwald said there was something about shanties which helped men’s mental health.

“It is like any kind of team sport,” he said.

“It is like that with the team spirit and it feels good — and blokes can be doing it because it has a masculine feel like a footy song.”

Some of the main choruses have been printed out so that people can sing along.

Albany International Folk ‘N’ Shanty Festival Events will run from 2pm on Friday, April 19, until 8pm on Sunday, April 21.

Follow the festival program on Facebook.

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