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It’s not just our Fishy Friends who are busy being creative in Port Isaac, you know.

I saw this illustration by Anna-Louise Felstead this morning thanks to a friend of mine in Buenos Aires called Emma (a wonderful blogger, even if she frequently makes me Argentina-sick with her posts about Palermo designers and gorgeous, fading San Telmo architecture).

Back in Cornwall, this lovely picture is of the view from the Smuggler’s Rest garden in Port Isaac, and is currently hanging in Somerset House. I like the uncompromisingly blue palette – seems nicely wintery and watery, and reminiscent of the forecast that popped up on my phone this morning for the next seven days.

For more of Anna-Louise’s illustration work, visit

God, I love the first line of the new Fishy Friends’ single: ‘Come all jolly fellows who delight in being mellow’! As the most mellow pop stars on the circuit, it’s a brilliant opener.

The new single, out last week on iTunes etc, is called Farmer’s Toast – an old English drinking song basically about good honest folk who work the land (ploughing and things) and, when they’re done for the day, like a quiet pint. As we have come to expect of the unlikely shanty-singing celebs from Port Isaac, the single combines clear, unaffected vocals with a rousing instrumental chorus and a gentle blast of Cornish village pub rowdiness.

Now I like this sort of thing – I’m into shanties, male voice choirs and dusty old Cornish folk music that draws a blank on Amazon and youtube – but the thing that keeps taking me by surprise with the Fishy Crew is how many other people seem to like them too. Sell-out shows, a film being made about them, label-mates with Amy Winehouse…

And with the local food movement in full force in Cornwall (watch out for, a hopeful online competitor to the big four), looking like it actually might be more than just a passing trend, this song is old-fashioned yet also rather timely.

They have just announced a date at the Minack for next May – better be quick. Also, a Christmas single is on the way, so I heard. Click on the links for my previous blog posts a) reviewing the Fisherman’s Friends album and b) harping on more about their mellowness when they first burst on the scene.

A few weeks ago everyone (including pasties + cream here) got all frothed up about the quirky story in which ten low-key Cornish fishermen from Port Isaac hit the big time with a million-pound Universal Music deal. Now the first reviews of the album are rolling in. So, how did the boys measure up?

Well, the Guardian review gives ‘Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends’ three stars, declaring it ‘the folk curiosity album of the year’ and describing the tracks as ‘gutsy work songs, mostly sung full-tilt’, but also ‘a bit plodding and respectful’.

The Indie meanwhile found it a ‘fulsome blend of baritones and tenors’, which ‘brings their repertoire of far-flung seafaring ballads to burly life’.

I agree with a lot of that (phew – I was feeling all protective). This is a hugely Read the rest of this entry »

I’m loving the story in the news today about the Cornish shanty singers from Port Isaac called Fisherman’s Friends, who randomly landed a £1 million recording contract with Universal (same label as Lady Gaga) after a music producer happened to be drinking in their local pub.

There is a long tradition of acapella shanty singing in Cornish pubs on a Friday night – it typically involves a group of bearded men with deep voices, a lot of warm ale and much swaying (the pub at Cadgwith even has handles on the ceiling for this purpose).

Inevitably, the lads (aged 50-70) have cleaned up their act a bit for the video (you know, washed the salt out of their hair) but I can’t get enough of the low-key reactions from the singers in interviews.

I heard one interviewed on Radio Cornwall this morning whose expectations seemed nothing if not grounded: ‘If I get a nice family holiday out of it, well, I’d be thrilled.’

And from another:

‘We don’t really know what to expect, to be honest – we’re just making it up as we go along. We are booked in for a few festivals, we’ve got a slot at Glastonbury, but I don’t really know too much about it. We might just be playing behind the bar.’

I’m posting two videos, first the tidied up new Universal video (do I hear a touch of Mumford & Sons?) and the second: shakier, low-definition footage of them singing classic shanty ‘South Australia’ on the beach at Port Isaac.

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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