The Motley Crew

Singing shanties and songs of the sea out of Brightlingsea, Essex

Long, long ago, 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.

From there we’ve gone on to sing 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 Harwich International Shanty Festival and the Colchester Oyster Feast. We get together at Christmas to sing traditional wassail carols, too.

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) and we've raised thousands of pounds for this worthy cause. 

We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Audiences appreciate our robust, light-hearted style and so long as we all enjoy ourselves and the RNLI gets a few more well-deserved pennies out of our efforts, that’s all that matters.
If you'd like us to sing at your event, please drop us a line.


Meet the crew

Otherwise known as the tenors, the screechers claim to reach impossibly high notes without artificial aids.
The tunes sing the bits everybody knows and think everyone else in the crew is just showing off.
David D
Pencil Bob
The bass section labours down in the engine room, occasionally rattling windows and scaring dogs. 
David B

Come and see us

We're performing at these venues in 2022*

Railway Tavern Cider Festival
Railway Tavern, Brightlingsea

Great to be performing at the famous Railway Cider Festival from 2pm. Cider, the Motleys - what could possibly go wrong?

Friends of St Mary's Church

Fundraising concert - details tbc.

Blessing of the Waters
Brightlingsea Hard

We'll be singing at this ancient ceremony which blesses and reclaims the waters around Brightlingsea. See us from noon by the Hard and possibly out on the water after the ceremony.

Great Bromley Platinum Jubilee Lunch
St George's Church, Great Bromley

Singing over lunch during the village Jubilee celebrations.

Festival of the Sea
Royal Hospital School, Holbrook

The event is part of the school's Queen's Platinum Celebrations.

Mersea RNLI fish & chip supper
MICA Centre, West Mersea

A return visit - overdue thanks to the pandemic – for one of our favourite gigs of the year.

RNLI Flag Day
Lion Walk, Colchester

Shop and shanty! We'll be out with our friends from Brightlingsea RNLI collecting for our favourite charity.

Heybridge Regatta
Heybridge Basin

Our second visit to this popular event. We'll be there in the afternoon.

Sonata National Championship Dinner
Colne Yacht Club, Brightlingsea

We're honoured to have been asked to provide the after-dinner entertainment at this prestigious event.

Brightlingsea Free Music Festival
Hurst Green, Brightlingsea

Delighted to have been chosen as the opening act at our great local music festival. We're on stage from 12.30pm

Mersea Regatta
West Mersea waterfront

We'll be roaming the quayside throughout the afternoon.

Fundraiser, Wivenhoe
St Mary's Church, Wivenhoe

A return visit for an evening concert with our friends The Felix Stowaways and The Hoolies.

Harwich International Shanty Festival

Very pleased to be back again by request at this fantastic event! Details of when and where we'll be performing later.

Harwich International Shanty Festival
Harwich International Shanty Festival
RNLI/EWT fundraiser

Joint fundraiser for the Essex Wildlife Trust and the RNLI. More details will follow.

* Subject to Covid restrictions, etc

Get that Jab & Go

When the NHS approached the The Motley Crew in March 2021 to come up with a sea shanty to promote Covid-19 vaccinations, we put our thinking caps on and came up with Just Get That Jab and Go

Sung to the tune of the Wellerman, with arrangement by our own Chris Bloor and lyrics by Motley SWAG (shanty wives and girlfriends) Melanie Bridle, it was recorded and mastered by Ray Hayden of Opaz Multimedia.

Our tune, set to a video recorded in various locations around North Essex and Suffolk – including our home town of Brightlingsea – gained a lot of publicity in the press, on radio and TV (video of our appearance on BBC Breakfast below). Click the tab below to read the press release that accompanied the video.

Get that Jab and Go press release

01 June 2021

Press Release

NHS’s first-ever sea shanty created to encourage COVID-19 vaccination

What’s believed to be the first-ever sea shanty in the world written to encourage people to take up the offer of a COVID-19 vaccination has been created by the well-known East Anglian group The Motley Crew.

Just Get That Jab And Go is written and performed by the 13-strong Brightlingsea-based shanty crew and was done in partnership with the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (ICS), which is responsible for the highly-successful local vaccination programme.

The launch of the song comes as the national programme has opened up vaccination appointments to people aged 30 and over.

With the refrain “Keep the community safe from harm, just get that jab and go”, the shanty is sung to the tune of Wellerman, the shanty that achieved TikTok fame and went to No 1 in the charts earlier this year. It even manages to integrate the local vaccine website address into one verse.

David Bridle, the Motley Crew’s Bosun, said: “We’ve all had the jab and were delighted to lend our voices to such an important campaign.

“After a year when we’ve mostly met on Zoom, we’re looking forward to adding it to our live shows when we’re able to perform again soon.”

Brightlingsea-based record producer Ray Hayden, of Opaz Multimedia mastered the recording and also gave his time for free. “Ray did an amazing job for us,” said David, “Having a professional involved was fantastic – we’d never have sounded so good without him.”

Simon Morgan, ICS head of communications, and who had the original idea for this unusual project, said: “Over the last couple of years the sea shanty has enjoyed a much-deserved boost in popularity, which got us thinking that having our own sea shanty composition to boost vaccination uptake, especially among younger audiences, would be a great idea.

“Our system is extremely grateful to members of the Motley Crew who have done an incredible job to reinforce the message of getting a vaccination when invited to do so.”

The group created the song in partnership with the ICS who accepted no payment for the work.

Dr Ed Garratt, Executive Lead for the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, said: “Our teams of staff and volunteers are doing a great job of inviting people back for their second doses, which are really important to give maximum protection from the virus; more than one third of adults have had both doses.

“So if you receive an invitation, whether for your first or second dose, please do act on it as soon as possible.

“We are proud of our success to-date and thanks to so many people, particularly the incredible efforts of the volunteers and staff who have contributed so much.”

Motleys on the BBC

In Action


  • 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

On Tour

Contact Us

If you'd like us to perform for your event, please drop us a line using the contact form. Be sure to say what the event is, who it's for and give a date, time and location.
We'll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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© The Motley Crew 2022
Website by  Big Red Web Design | Illustrations by Pencil Bob Hollis | Compilation video mastered by Richard Harvey | Hero image by Jon Sturdy.
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