Sea shanty festival is a sail away success

John Conolly entertained a packed crowd with his songs and stories NO T26 shanty fest_then renowned John Conolly entertained a packed crowd with his stories and songs

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Ahoy there! Oban sea shanty festival will be making another port of call here next year if funding is found.

Visitors and artists from as far away as across the channel in  France and beyond dropped anchor in Oban for a rip-roaring weekend of sea songs and stories for the inaugural live shanty festival.

Workshops, including how to play the bones and sing shanties in harmony, sold-out at The Rockfield Centre.

Masts, including tall-ships, filled the town’s pontoons and al fresco music in Station Square was a crowd magnet in the sunshine, although battering rain on Sunday forced entertainers indoors at The Rockfield.

Tickets for the Saturday night concert were also a sell-out. Putting in an appearance as part of the  night was internationally-respected songwriter John Conolly whose most popular song Fiddler’s Green is performed and loved all over the world.

Shanty sessions in the town’s bars, including the Whisky Vaults, were packed, with plenty of opportunities for people to join in +and singers were happy to give impromptu performances with a pint or two outside The Oban Inn.

Lockdown put paid to the 2020 shanty festival, originally planned for Oban as part of the Year of Coast and Waters, and Covid put a stop to it last year, although virtual versions of it went ahead online but festival organiser Tom Malone was determined the 2022 event would stay float and now a 2023 repeat looks likely.

He said: ‘I’d say a 2023 see shanty festival is now on the cards. As well as visitors there was a great deal of Obanites who enjoyed the new addition to Oban’s entertainment calendar. People know what good fun a shanty festival is now and we hope to bring it back with a whole new programme if we get the chance of funding again to make it happen. Oban was compact-perfect for an event like this, no one had to walk  more than five minutes from one venue to another. The only quibbles from publicans was that we could have done with more acts to go round!

‘The Saturday night gig kept taking us by surprise. We put out 120 seats but still they kept on coming. We collected plenty of feedback from the festival and everyone agreed The Rockfield Centre fit the bill for workshops and concerts.’


All women shanty group The Silver Darlings were a favourite of Oban shanty festival.
Les Brouilleurs d’Ecoute were a hit with shanty festival goers.
From La Rochelle came Le Brouilleurs d’Ecoutes keeping an eye on the Rockfield Centre audience making sure they get the actions right for a song about a chicken on a raft.

Monkey’s Fist entertaining an audience at The Rockfield Centre as part of Oban Sea Shanty Festival.