Biography

Alan Whitbread

My first love is for traditional English song and music but my repertoire also includes some great songs from other traditions and more recent compositions. While I learnt my trade as an unaccompanied singer, I now also relish playing one of my English concertinas, both on its own and accompanying my singing.

I enjoy singing at festivals and folk clubs and I am happy to go a long way for my singing. For instance, I’ve performed general folk songs at the Canterbury Folk Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand and as a shanty singer at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia. Brilliant!

My particular joy is singing sea songs and shanties. This has led me to sing solo at numerous maritime/shanty festivals, including at Falmouth, Harwich, Hull, Scarborough and Whitby and at Enkhuizen in the Netherlands. In addition, I was a member of the now-defunked “Shellback Chorus” and, along with three other shantymen, I have set up a shanty crew called “Sharp As Razors”. As a result, I have sung at folk & maritime festivals all over the UK, as far apart as Bude, Edinburgh, Ellesmere Port, Gloucester Docks, Great Yarmouth, Lancaster, Portsmouth and Upton-upon-Severn, as well as in the Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.

My interest in morris dancing has meant that I have danced and more recently played for several teams. In recent years this has led me to play and sing on stage at a number of large international festivals, including in China, Estonia, Inner Mongolia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and USA.

I've recorded two CDs: the first “Soaring Enchanted” is a lyrical mixture of folk and maritime songs, while more recently I recorded “White Stocking Day” as a collection of shanties and sea songs.

The English concertinas I play are my pride and joy, being a Lachenal extended treble Edeophone with metal ends dated c1920 and a Wheatstone Baritone with wooden ends dated c1903. They're beautiful!