The Stars of 21st Century Shanty

These bands are taking shanty music to a whole new level.

Although shanty music is older than most forms of popular music it has maintained its relevance around the world thanks to a handful of acts around the world who are willing to innovate and share their love for the genre.

Thanks to the film series Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as video games like Assassins’s Creed there has been a resurgence in all things seafaring, including the music that goes along with it. The sharing culture of the internet has also played its part in the forming of new shanty groups as young people have easy access to sheet music, recordings and videos for reference. Older generations of shanty bands can now rest easy as their traditions have been immortalised in forums, video series and websites, ensuring that their culture will stand the test of time whilst drawing in newcomers who are willing to take on the mantle of shanty music players.

Just take a quick look at any sea shanty festival line up and you can see the sheer wealth of variety on offer here, the organisers are clearly not wanting for acts to choose from. Collected below are just a handful of what we consider to be the current stars of the shanty world, whilst some of these acts may well be still gaining notoriety, we believe that they are well on their way to success. We’ve listed any upcoming gigs that they’re playing in case you fancy seeing them for yourself this year:

The Longest Johns

Bristol-based acapella singers The Longest Johns might have only been around for a few years but they’re already becoming mainstays on the sea shanty circuit. Their repertoire comprises of a string of time-worn maritime tunes, whilst they also plumb the salty depths of traditional English folk to find songs that even the most experienced of connoisseurs might not have heard before. Their YouTube channel has been one of the keys to their success, with the band ratcheting up an astonishing 776,250 views on their channel and over 7,000 subscribers: not too shabby for a niche folk group!

Catch them at: The Three Tuns, Bristol on 12th April 2018/Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, Falmouth on 22nd-24th June 2018

Fisherman’s Friends

Probably one of the most recognisable names in the world of maritime music, Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends have been performing their unique brand of sea shanty music for over 20 years now. After getting signed by Universal Island in 2010 the group has released three full-length albums and toured the UK extensively including a major performance at Glastonbury Festival. With their self-titled record going Gold in 2010, the group has remained popular and even received an award from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards recognising their commitment to keeping Folk traditions alive.

Catch them at: The Minack Theatre, Porthucurno on 14th May 2018/The Royal Cornwall Show, Wadebridge on 9th June 2018


Blending traditional sea shanty music with heavy metal is something that the world was clearly not ready for when the multi-national group Alestorm initially formed. Signed to heavy metal label Napalm records in 2007, the band has since coined the term ‘pirate metal’ claiming it for their own and toured their music extensively around the world. Often lampooning metal sub-genres with the addition of their own maritime lyrics, Alestorm have continued to be one of the most established shanty-based bands in the world with a number of their records charting in the UK, American Austria and Germany.

Catch them at: Bloodstock Open Air, Walton-on-Trent on 11th August 2018