ANCHORS aweigh! Sea Ilfracombe sets sail today with a vast array of maritime-based events and activities, and what would sailing be without the singalongs of hardy seafarers?
On Friday from 7pm, The Oldenburg will be hosting Maritime Party – a session of songs, shanties, music and tall tales with all things oceanic as its theme. Loxhore musician Martyn Babb, who is also known for his storytelling, wit and banter, will be compering the night's proceedings.
Anchors Aweigh, a Mortehoe-based shanty group which evolved from local panto performers and the Woolacombe Male Voice Choir, will be returning to the party this year after shivering the timbers of last summer's partygoers. They'll also be performing on the Saturday if you miss them.
Also appearing at the party and over the weekend will be a selection of acts from North Devon and far beyond.
From our own shores we have the likes of Ian Hudson, ex member of local shanty-ists Hearts of Oak and partner of Kevin Green in The Grey Blokes. And then there's Pam 'n' Al, who play dulcimer, anglo-concertina and melodeon and are known locally as members of the Bloatertown Band.
But let's not forget the host himself, Martyn Babb, who will team up with songwriter Andy Barnes to supply songs with the occasional story thrown in.
From further afield come the likes of Four 'n' Aft, from Merseyside and the North East, Helen North from Kent, LocTup Together from Liverpool, Monkey's Fist from Leeds, Malcolm Ward from Kent, Old Gaffers from the South Hams and Steve Dawes and Helen Pitt from Stockton-on-Tees.
All are seasoned musicians whose capacity for roaming would warm the heart of many a hardy sailor.
Perhaps the most special act on the bill is Tom and Barbara Brown. Sea Ilfracombe was their brainchild. With a career spanning back to the Sixties folk movement, if anyone knows their craft it is them.
With a packed schedule of sea-based workshops, theatre, visual arts, children's activities and a presentation by Sea Watch, music is not the only fish in the sea. From 10am there is something for everyone, so plan your day at www.seailfracombe.co.uk.
Sea Ilfracombe runs from Friday September 6 to Sunday September 8. More details on pages 5, 8 and 9.