We had rather a splendid weekend in Mevagissey, Cornwall. Last year at the same time, in between bouts of lockdown we travelled down to the small Cornish village because the 2020 Meva Shanty Fest had been supposed to take place in which our best local shanty-chaps, the Beach’d Buoys were to have performed. Festival postponed, a group of us still descended on the village as we had accommodation booked and we felt we needed a break. We had a lovely weekend then, and this year, when Meva Shanty Fest was actually running, it was even better. A little background to those who don’t know this picturesque village and fishing port was named after Saints Meva and Issy and is on the south Cornish coast, about five miles from St Austell. The village climbs from the harbour up extremely steep lanes and streets – we know how extremely steep they are because our delightful bed and breakfast accommodation, Tregorran Guest House was halfway up one!
Shanties are the work songs of sailors and mariners, no doubt going back for as long as people have been at sea and doing tasks such as hauling up anchors and sails which are helped by rhythmic singing. Entertainment on the old ships was limited to story telling and singing, and recently what used to be thought of as quaint folk songs have justifiably become very popular, and people everywhere (still mostly men as traditionally only men were at sea) are creating and joining shanty groups. My husband and several of his friends are in the aforementioned Beach’d Buoys, and practice for the fun of it, but also so they are good enough to perform locally to raise money for a children’s hospice. When I was at junior school we (and every other junior school child in the country) had music and singing lessons, and we sang many of these traditional songs, so most people know them and can join in when the modern bands sing. Because of the interest, other less well-known songs have been added to the repertoire, and some bands even write their own new ones.
We had a great time, the sun shone, the skies were blue, the air was balmy, the brilliant Buoys had three great gigs with much appreciative applause from the audiences, we visited splendid pubs, had excellent meals everywhere we ate, enjoyed ice-cream and beer (Not at the same time) heard some other really good bands including Short Drag Roger, our fellow Westonians the Steepholmers and a neighbouring band from Bristol, Storm Force Ten. We look forward to seeing them again next year, and hope we’re once again blessed by the weather!
Here is a link to our local band, the Beach’d Buoys: https://www.thebeachdbuoys.com/
Here is a link to the Meva Festival: https://www.mevashantyfest.co.uk/
Here is a link to our fabulous accommodation: https://www.tregorran.co.uk/