All good things come to an end, and so it was with 2010. It wasn't a great year for the country (but enough of that!!) but Hooks and Crookes had a good year; we met many old friends from across Europe and we added some more too. We really enjoyed the Seafaring Festival in Waterford City in May and a cead mile buiochas (a thousand thanks) to all the many singers and groups who contributed to what was a great weekend of music and song. We also enjoyed all our performances in Ireland and Europe and we look forward to 2011 and meeting everyone again somewhere. We also enjoyed our own company and we had some great sing songs among ourselves. Our last gathering of the Year was in Kennedy's of Callaghane on Monday 20th December, after our usual practice. We sang a lot of Christmas songs, and why not, but we threw in a few ballads as well. Eddie, as ever, organised the pizzas. So, once again, many thanks to all our fellow shanty singers and friends for helping to make 2010 as enjoyable as every other year we have had together since we started singing in 2005. Roll on the Tall Ships Festival in Waterford in June 2011.
We know its early December and maybe too early to be wishing you all a happy Christmas but Europe came to us in two forms this week: they bailed us out financially (thank you!!) and they sent across a big weather front which snowed us in. Great scenes and beautiful vistas on the water, on the land and in the fields. The only difficulty is getting out and appreciating it. We, in Ireland aren't used to this weather. Hard weather too for the poor shantyman, hard to get out and sing!! Great weather though for a drop of Rum & Shrub. Once again Happy Christmas to you all from a white Emerald Isle.
The captain of our gallant crew enjoyed the first 4 photos so much, we'll keep him happy by putting up another 4. Aye, Aye Captain.
Hooks and Crookes cleared off to Clare (always a great place to visit) to the Boghill Centre between Lisdoon and Kilfenora, where we were in the capable hands of Jim and Mairead from the Callan Studios in Milltown Malbay, who cajoled, encouraged and tutored us over a long and fruitful weekend of some singing, practicing and fine dining (lovely vegetarian food in the Centre). Of course we bonded again in the pubs (Kilfenora on Friday night and the Wayside Tavern in Lisdoon on Saturday night, where we promptly forgot all we had learned from Jim and Mairead). But it was an excellent weekend and pity poor Tim off in the wilds of Canada who missed out, and poor Olly who lost his voice completely (the quietest he has ever been on an away weekend?). We imbibed too from beautiful bottles kindly presented to us by our international shanty friends over the last year. A great weekend was had by all. But will we remember all we learned? Many thanks to Jim and Mairead for all their help and to the staff at the Centre for their hospitality, cuisine and assistance.
An International Music Festival is underway in Waterford since Tuesday 2nd November, mostly at night, in Garter Lane, the Theatre Royal and other and other venues around the City. There are also Fringe events associated with the Festival and we delighted to be asked to perform, today Saturday 6th November, in the Granary Restaurant where we delivered a fine collection of songs, with gusto, to the gathered diners. A lovely venue, and one we thoroughly enjoyed singing in. Nice food to, for some, afterwards.
Hooks and Crookes were delighted to be invited to celebrate the 50 years spent by Michael Quinlan as a constant member of Waterford's finest bands, in a gala concert held in the impressive Christ Church Cathedral. Of course the brass band itself was the main performer on the night, along with guests and friends (some from as far away as Bavaria) but we delighted the large audience with a selection of our shanties just before the interval. We later adjourned to the Munster Bar, where we chatted, sang and had a few drinks to continue the celebration, and we were late joined by brass band members, including Michael and the Bavarians (who seemed to enjoy the finest Guinness in Waterford).
The Festival of Surf and Sea held annually in Tramore was bigger and better than ever this year, with more events, more stalls and definitely more people. Held over 2 days this year, the weather was very kind, with good sunshine on Saturday and it was almost as good on Sunday. Hooks and Crookes were delighted to be asked to finish the Festival on Sunday at 3.30 on the Prom at Tramore where a large crowd gathered to hear our renditions, which they all seemed to enjoy. We ain't sure if Molly, the Festival Seaweed Queen, who stood nearby enjoyed our singing and sure how could she since she was dragged off soon after and proudly borne out into the coolish waters of Tramore Bay, from where, it was hoped, she would make her way back to the Backstrand, from where she began. We had other interests of course to sustain and we adjourned (some of us anyway) to Victoria House where we drank a few pints and enjoyed most beautiful burgers cooked on the spot, and in good company. Well done to all the organisers for a fabulous weekend of activities.
The Fano four- plus- three braved the sunshine off the coast of Denmark in August while the rest of the landlubbers stayed in the safety of home port: only 2 places left now in the 9 person Hooks and Crookes. The fish were gone but the singing was great. In the wonderful company of Paddys Passion and Kimbers Men and our hosts Stork Ejlaender we had a whale of a time (careful now 'whale' not 'wail'). It could be the grog issue that the admiral allowed before we sang, but the audience said we were great and we thought were even better (let's not be specific and try to be kind to delisters all !). Anyway a magic island with twin (but not from the same mother vis. the island folklore) towns of cobbled streets and mesmerising architecture and welcoming people and wonderful company and sunshine and great music: what more could one ask for. Sincere thanks to our hosts Stork Ejlaender Group and to Lars in particular and the choir members who so kindly welcomed us into their own homes on the last night of our visit.
Hooks and Crookes had 10 official performances at Festival-Maritim 2010 in Vegesack, Bremen, in excellent weather, and to large crowds in what was one of the most successful maritime festivals ever held in Vegesack, a beautiful City on the banks of the River Wesser (a river not too unlike our own River Suir). We travelled to Bremen on Thursday 5th August, via Dublin to Stansted and Standsted to Bremen which was a lot of travelling but it was worth it in every sense. We had Friday to ourselves and we took the train to the centre of Bremen where we enjoyed the many sights on offer, including the Cathedrals, the wonderful architecture and especially the old town, with its narrow streets, quaint buildings and fabulous shops. The festival proper began around 6 o'clock on Friday evening with the official opening, speeches which was followed by a barbecue outdoors in superb weather. We had one performance onstage that evening, which was well received by the many people around the Strandlust Hotel, an upmarket hotel right on the banks of the river, and it also allowed us to refine our voices and prepare for the longer day on Saturday, when we gave 5 performances in all at various locations around Vegesack. We had to get a taxi to the second last performance and the people there really enjoyed all the songs we sang but especially Molly Malone, which we are always asked to sing in Germany (and why not: although not strictly a shanty or a sea song, it is well known all over Europe). Our final gig on Saturday was under some maple trees to give us shelter from the rain but that didn't deter a goodly crowd from standing under the raindrops to hear our dulcid tones. Once the official performances were over all the performers usually gather at a central location where refreshments (!!) and food are very generously provided and all continue singing, each in turn so we likewise contributed a shanty or two and of course a few rousing Irish ballads. Saturday night was a great night, in great company and great craic. Luckily, our performances on Sunday began much later in the day (1st one at 1 o'clock) and we had the pleasure of singing on the car ferry which crosses the Wesser continuously each day (there are two ferries. Our penultimate performance was on the fantastic Tall Ship, the Schullschiff Deutschland, which is permanently moored on the quayside as a visitor attraction (we need something like this in the Waterford City, on the Quay) and that went down well (we met some Irish people there, including Francis Quigley from Enniscorthy and his wife Ulrike, long-term residents now of Vegesack): even Oro 'Sé de Bheatha Bhaile was well received, that fantastic Irish song written in honour of Granuaile, the Pirate Queen of the west of Ireland. Our final contribution was to sing two songs on the main stage at 9.30 on Sunday night: we sang the Connemara Cradle Song, that beautiful lullaby that is always enjoyed and we rounded off our performance with a hearty rendition of Molly Malone with more or less everyone of the 3000 or so people attending the finale singing along with us. Once all the groups had performed, all then gathered onstage for the final farewell songs. After the spectacular fireworks, thank yous and a few final comments, we all adjourned to the festival club for more songs and a few beers and another late night.
What a great festival! Full of activities, people (around a quarter of a million people attended on the first night alone and many more arrived over the weekend), events (six main stages and 20 other locations), groups (almost 30). We met many old friends (Paddy's Passion, 'tScheepfolk, Armstrongs Patent, Les Souilles de Fond de Cale, Banana Boat), some new ones (Act of Mutiny, La Bouiline, Marejol, Chris Ricketts & Mark Wiltshire) and many new and old listeners who enjoy our songs and performances. Congratulations are due to Lutz, Fritz, Patricia and Brigitte of City Marketing, Vegesack for all the hard work they put in to realise such a successful Festival. Go raibh mile maith agaibh (many, many thanks). It was all well worth it.
A fantastic food festival was held in Dunmore East over the weekend in glorious weather which attracted large crowds to the many attractions on offer in the village. Niall Edmondson, the proprietor of the Spinnaker Bar, and one of the organisers of the Food Festival, asked if we would sing a few songs to finish off the Festival in the Spinnaker. Of course we agreed and were delighted to perform for the happy diners, especially on the promise of grub and grog. We sang rowdy numbers, quiet songs and we danced and pranced about the stage, all of which went down well. We had a mighty steak then, chat and adjourned to the bar for more grog and songs and we were joined by members of the recently formed group Girls Allowed. Don't ask what time we got home at and in what condition but it was a great night...another in a long series...Aye
Last weekend, Hooks and Crookes returned to the Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival for the first time in three years. In many ways it was a return to our spiritual home as it was the invite by Falmouth Shout to their festival in 2006 that gave us our very first foreign trip. And as they say the rest is history. As usual, the festival this year was a great success with 23 different groups participating. Due to family commitments 3 of the crew were shorebound and unable to set sail but the Falmouth Six steered a steady course and gave a display of shanty singing that surpassed all expectations.
We were honoured by our hosts Falmouth Shout to give our first performance on the main stage on Events Square after the official opening at 7 pm on Friday evening. We were then invited by our friends from Rum & Shrub to join them for a ration of grog on board Alan & Ann's boat. Saturday saw us perform in the Chain Locker at 2 pm and on The Quayside at 5pm but it was our performance in 5 Degrees West which was out finest hour. The audience here were rocking and joined in practically every song. Although our usual gig length is about 40 minutes, we had to keep singing for at least double that as they would just not let us stop. What a night. Sunday saw the departure of the bosun as he set sail for France, and suddenly we had the Falmouth Five. But once more into the breech and our performance in the Watersports Centre was filmed for the festival DVD. The final closing ceremony occurred in Event Square where all the participating shanty groups joined in a mass rendition of The Farewell Shanty.
Yes a great weekend was had by all. Great thanks are due to our friends in Falmouth Shout for the very efficient organisation. It was also great to meet up old friends also who had been over to our Waterford Seafaring Festival, even if we were led astray on Sunday night by our consumption of Rum & Shrub (your fault Alan). The highlight of the festival for us has to be the emergence of a young exciting group called the Falmouth Fish Sea Shanty Collective. This group of young people all seem to be at most 25 years of age and what energy. The future of shanty singing is definitely assured with young talent like this.
The Waterford Male Voice Choir held its end of year gala concert in the Tower Hotel on Thursday 3rd June featuring City of Waterford Brass, Voci & Special Guests. We were one of the Special Guests invited to sing on this glorious night in a glorious setting. We arrived early (6.45) fo a sound check and then it was a question of waiting around, relaxing, talking and listening while we waited for our chance to perform. Voci began proceedings followed by Celtic Mist, Stephanie Foley, Eoin Power and the first half was brought to a close by the Waterford Male Voice Choir. After the interval, City of Waterford Brass produced a powerful sound, which was a hard act to follow for us when our turn came. We sang Fearaibh n bhFeoibh, The Bilberry Goat and Whisky Johnny, which went down well with the large audience present in the Ardmore room. Eimer Heany, Anne O'Riordan, Voci and City of Brass followed with the Waterford Male Voice Choir finishing off with two lively numbers, Drunken Sailor and Sloop John B; powerful and absorbing renditions of these lusty sea songs. We all went on stage then for the final rousing number, Battle Hymn of the Republic. We adjourned then to the Bar for more chat and refreshemnts. Another good night for weary men after the previous long weekend. Aye
The Annual Hook Head Maritime Matters Festival 2010 took place over the May Bank Holiday weekend and Hooks and Crookes were there again performing for the masses. The Hook is a great place for a festival such as this. Plenty of fresh air, dramatic coastal scenery, great facilities at hand and the dominating but highly impressive Hook Lighthouse towering over us all. Bigger and better than ever this year, with a host of musicians of varying styles, lots of stalls and activities and great people too, and well organised and attended. We provided one performance on stage, listened to fellow musicians, chatted and talked and then adjourned for grub and grog to Neville's lively hostelry in Fethard-on-Sea, where we dined, drank and sang until the wee hours. A great day indeed. Aye!
Olly Lupton was 60 recently but he cleared off to Spain so we couldn't celebrate the same event on the night. But like all good elephants, Hooks and Crooks have good memories so we celebrated this awesome event tonight, first by presenting Olly with a photographic record of his stint so far with the group (and thank you to Colm for putting that together), and then we presented him with a ship, Madam Gashay, a fine adornment for a window somewhere. After all that we sang the night away by the fireside and had copious pints. Tina, a regular Monday night patron at Kennedys presented Olly with a card and a bottle of wine, Eddie went and bought pizzas and chips and Colm bought a round of drinks for the house to celebrate his first birthday. (Look out everyone as there'll be nights in the Cove again soon - he'll be back on the demon drink in a wee while!!). Another great night. Aye!
The Mayor of Waterford brilliantly suggested to us that we should join the Annual St Patrick's Day Parade in the City as a means of promoting the Seafaring Festival of Music and Song, and we did. Eddie organised the entire event and arranged with Joe Teasdale to bring along his sailing boat from where we could play music and advertise the upcoming Festival. We assembled at 12.15 in fair weather, much too early of course but we eventually got moving at around 2 pm and it was a pleasure to sing to the people along the Quay and to see the welcoming expressions on their faces as we passed, with shanties blaring out and us singing along, like the troubadours we are. At the viewing stand we raised our hats to the Mayor, the City Manager and all the dignitaries reviewing the Parade. A great day indeed. A couple of pleasant pints then in the Uluru. Aye!
The Pere Charles, a 90-metre steel trawler and one of the largest and most efficient boats fishing out of Dunmore East, went down 2 miles off the Waterford coast on the 10th January 2007 in bad weather, with the loss of all five lives on board. This tagic event devasted the local community and particularly the families of Tom Hennessy, Pat Hennessy, Pa Coady, Andiy Dyran and Billy O'Connor. Frank Walsh, who lives in Dunmore East was so touched by the sinking that he wrote a song in memory of the Pere Charles and the gallant men who went down with her. The song was launched in the Ocean Hotel on Friday 5th March 2010 to an appreciative audience, which included families and friends of the lost fishermen. The song is sung by Pat Comerford, with backing guitar by Frank. Hooks and Crookes were delighted to sing a few sea songs on the night and contribute to this poignant occasion. All proceeds from the sale of the CD will go to the RNLI. An excerpt from this beautiful song can be heard on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7r3h9OtwDQ and can be purchased through the http://www.upthedeise.com/waterford/shop website.
It snowed heavily today in Waterford, the first time in many years that the City received such a covering. And sure what better to be doing than to take a walk up along the Suir from King's Channel to the Quay in the centre of the City. And while doing that sure there's no harm in taking a few photos of the mighty Suir.