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 have even been caught playing English tunes at music sessions where no songs are allowed!
My particular joy is singing sea songs and shanties. This has led me to sing solo at numerous shanty/maritime/sea festivals, including at Harwich, Falmouth & Scarborough Shanty Festivals and at Enkhuizen in Holland, as well as at Folk Festivals, such as Banbury, Bude, Crediton & Dulverton, and Canterbury Folk Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand. The spots I have sung have varied considerably from been miked-up on stage to large audiences to more intimate spots in clubs & pubs and from 15-minute taster spots to no less than five one-hour spots at Falmouth.
Recently, with three friends who are all experienced singers, Des Patalong, Clive Brooks & Vaughan Hully, I established the Sharp As Razors shanty crew. See www.sharpasrazors.com. Already we have sung at numerous folk clubs in the Midlands, as well as at Ellesmere Port Shanty Festival and at Bromsgrove & Warwick Folk Festivals.
While I enjoy the formality of singing at festivals & folk clubs I also relish the rough and tumble of pub singing, where I perform a great variety of songs, including such well-known ones as Drunken Sailor, Leaving of Liverpool, Lincolnshire Poacher, My Grandfather's Clock and You are My Sunshine. I have also performed cabaret spots at formal dinners, singing such rousing songs as Jerusalem, Over the Hills and Far Away and Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
In addition, when I was a member of the now-defunked Shellback Chorus I sang at maritime & folk festivals all over the UK, as far apart as Edinburgh, Lancaster, Great Yarmouth & Portsmouth, as well as in Holland, New Zealand and the USA. My interest in morris dancing has meant that I am a member of several teams. In recent years this has led me to play and sing at a number of large international festivals, including in China, Estonia, Inner Mongolia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and the USA. Phew!
I have produced two CDs: Soaring Enchanted, which is a mixture of maritime & folk songs, and my latest, White Stocking Day, which is a compilation of shanties and songs of the sea. They can be obtained from my website, www.alanwhitbread.co.uk, and cost £12, including postage.
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.