Sidmouth stories told in song, in Living By the Sea

PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 August 2019

Living By The Sea. Picture: Sidmouth Folk Festival

Living By The Sea. Picture: Sidmouth Folk Festival

Sidmouth Folk Festival

Tales from Sidmouth’s past and stories of present-day residents feature in a special show during the Folk Festival.

Living By The Sea explores the harsh, vigorous lives of maritime communities, and is aimed not only at festival-goers but all local residents.

The show blends story, poetry and folksong to take an impressionistic voyage through communities whose lives are governed by the sea. It has been created by storyteller Matthew Crampton, with music arranged and directed by Paul Sartin. They are the team behind the recent reworking of Peter Bellamy's set of folk ballads, The Transports.

Among the performers are Sartin's bandmates from the folk trio Faustus, Benji Kirkpatrick and Saul Rose, who also appeared in The Transports - plus a specially-gathered choir of festival goers.

"With The Transports, we saw the power of linking folk song with storytelling," said Sartin. "Now we can repeat that with Faustus and Matthew Crampton re-united on stage."

"The sea is one of the most perilous places for humans," explained Crampton. "We cannot control weather or tide. We cannot know what lies below the surface. Yet we have always been drawn to the sea - for food, for travel and for inspiration."

Fishing looms large in Living By the Sea, as the show travels between whaling fleets in the South Pacific and herring boats off Britain. It includes the story of a young 17th-century fisherman from Sidmouth who emigrated to America and founded one of the great families of New England.

Closer to home and to the present day, the show presents a moving account of the Bagwells, a fishing family from Sidmouth who featured in the recent TV documentary Working The Sea by the Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub CIC. .They started their fishing business from nothing and built it up, but suffered the tragedy of losing their son Ian at sea in 1998.

'We want the show's choir to act like a Greek Chorus,' says Sartin, 'while also creating the mood of a folk session. We'll certainly be encouraging the audience to sing along - to be part of the community we've created for this show.'

Living By the Sea will be performed on the main Ham Stage at midday on Thursday, August 8.

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