We are The Motley Crew

Singing shanties and sea songs

Out of Brightlingsea in Essex

Long, long ago (25 years to be precise), a group of like minded chaps hit on the idea of singing sea shanties for fun. Despite it being a late night at the yacht club, most of us remembered the idea the day after and thus The Motley Crew was born.
Over the last quarter of a century we’ve sung at fetes, smack and barge matches, regattas, dinners, weddings, parties, shop openings and numerous other events. 

Highlights include performing at the London Marathon, the Cutty Sark, the Colchester Oyster Feast, Brightlingsea's Blessing of the Waters and shanty festivals at Harwich, Brancaster and Leigh on Sea. 

In 2021 we worked with the NHS to produce a shanty promoting Covid vaccinations, performing the result live on BBC and ITV breakfast programmes.

We've supported lots of charities over the years, but our main charity is the RNLI (as most of us sail, we figure it's a good investment). We've raised over £30,000 for the RNLI and others. 

Now with 12 crew members, we're busier than ever, entertaining audiences with our unique harmonies, wide repertoire and more than a little humour. We like to leave our audiences smiling!
If you'd like us to sing for you, click the button below to get in touch.

Meet the crew

Chris (Shantyman)

Bob (Junior)

Colin

  • The Screechers
Otherwise known as the tenors, the screechers claim to reach impossibly high notes without artificial aids.
  • The tunesmiths
The tunes sing the bits everybody knows and think everyone else in the crew is just showing off.
shanty singers

John

Mike

Rob

Bob (Pencil)

Iain

Richard (YTS)

David (Bosun)

Richard

Robin

  • The growlers
The bass section labours down in the engine room, occasionally rattling windows and scaring dogs. 

Where to see us

We're looking forward to a busy 25th year of shantying.
 Not all our gigs are open to the public, but if you're thinking of booking us, the list below will help you to avoid a clash of dates.
  • Felixstowe Shanty Café
  • 04/05/2024
  • Levington Marina, Suffolk
  • We’ll be back with our friends the Felix Stowaways and other crews for an afternoon of shanties and catching up.

  • Rowhedge Shanty Festival
  • 11/05/2024
  • Various in Rowhedge
  • A trip up the River Colne for the crew.

  • Old Leigh Shanty Festival
  • 18/05/2024
  • Old Leigh, Essex
  • Our second visit to this busy little festival – we’re looking forward to another fun-packed afternoon!

  • Polocross Event, Little Bentley Hall
  • 25/05/2024
  • Little Bentley Hall
  • A new one for us! Singing after supper at for participants in a polocross event. Saddle up!

  • Blessing of the Waters
  • 09/06/2024
  • Brightlingsea Hard
  • We’ll be leading the singing at this ancient and colourful ceremony, helping the town mark its maritime boundaries.

  • Shanties on the Hard
  • 21/06/2024
  • Brightlingsea Hard
  • Join the Motleys on the longest day of the year for an informal concert on Brightlingsea Hard.

  • West Mersea RNLI
  • 05/07/2024
  • MICA Hall, West Mersea
  • A welcome return to West Mersea for a fish & chip supper to raise money for the local RNLI branch

  • Brightlingsea Free Music Festival
  • 03/08/2024
  • Hurst Green, Brightlingsea
  • We’re back opening up this great little festival for another year. One of our favourites!

  • Brancaster Shanty Festival
  • 13/09/2024
  • Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk
  • The crew will be out in force at this friendly little festival – venues to be announced!

  • Brancaster Shanty Festival
  • 14/09/2024
  • Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk
  • The crew will be out in force at this friendly little Norfolk festival – venues to be announced!

  • Brancaster Shanty Festival
  • 15/09/2024
  • Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk
  • The crew will be out in force at this friendly little Norfolk festival – venues to be announced!

  • Maldon RNLI Fish & Chip Supper
  • 20/09/2024
  • Maldon Town Hall
  • A shanty night with a fish & chip supper to mark the RNLI’s 200th Anniversary.

  • Frinton & Walton U3A
  • 27/09/2024
  • McGrigor Hall
  • Private fish & chip supper.

  • Harwich International Shanty Festival
  • 11/10/2024
  • Harwich
  • A welcome return visit to our local – and international – shanty festival. Not to be missed!

  • Harwich International Shanty Festival
  • 12/10/2024
  • Harwich
  • A welcome return visit to our local – and international – shanty festival. Not to be missed!

  • Harwich International Shanty Festival
  • 13/10/2024
  • Harwich
  • A welcome return visit to our local – and international – shanty festival. Not to be missed!

  • Temple Cressing Barns
  • 20/10/2024
  • Cressing
  • A great opportunity to hear us singing some traditional wassails – and a few shanties – at this historic venue.

Motleys on Tour

Testimonials

I was delighted when informed of the consistent fundraising the Motley Crew has done to raise vital funds for the RNLI. Thank you for your loyalty in helping the RNLI to continue to save lives at sea.
Jon Knight
Head of Community Engagement, RNLI
Speaking with our staff, they felt that the shanties really brought the ship to life. It goes without saying that you are welcome to come back and perform again in the future
Aaron Hewett
General Manager, Cutty Sark
I would just like to write to say thank you so much for organising a fundraising event for our Raise the Roof appeal. It is really touching when someone organises an independent event of their own volition, especially one that is so different.
Lia Smith
Secretary, Porridge & Pens
Just to say thank you to you and the ‘Crew’ for making our WI Centenary Evening such fun. Without exception every one said how much they had enjoyed the evening, such a great atmosphere!
Jo Barnes
Weeley WI
I’ve just paid good money for a CD of yours , and I want you to know that I’m appalled. I’m appalled that you haven’t yet got a golden disc – it’s absolutely brilliant! I do so love to hear you sing and I applaud your objective
Mike Fletcher
© The Motley Crew 2024 |
Illustrations by Pencil Bob Hollis |
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