Tom Lewis is headlining Friday night of the Yarmouth Sea song and Shanties Festival, which takes place from May 31 to June 2, with Hughie Jones topping the bill on the Saturday.
Widely acknowledged as North America’s finest exponent of contemporary nautical songs, Tom Lewis brings to the stage wry humour, button accordion, ukulele, a great voice and his unique experience of more than 40 years, bridging the sea-going and folk-singing communities. Born in Belfast, then moving with his family to Gloucester for his Grammar School years, Tom joined the Royal Navy as an Engineering Apprentice in 1959, just a few days after his sixteenth birthday. During a 24 year naval career (mainly in diesel submarines), Tom managed to juggle the requirements of the service with a growing commitment to participating in folk clubs, concerts and festivals.
On completion of naval service in 1983, Tom and his wife Lyn emigrated to the mountains of British Columbia, in order to be somewhere completely different to a large port city. Now, after 25 years, hundreds of thousands of miles in cars, motor homes, trains and aircraft; tours in Australia,
New Zealand, Britain, Europe, Canada and the United States; major festival main stages and tiny, under-promoted coffeehouses; and six more recordings; for Tom and Lyn, the road just keeps on unwinding before them. In a way of life where enormous success is not having a day-job, Tom Lewis has translated his love of singing into that enormous success and more: his previous existence as a sailor, and his reincarnation as a musical ex-sailor, bringing enjoyment for all. Now residing back in the UK for family reasons, Tom is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Hughie was a founder member of The Spinners, arguably the most popular and widely-known English folk group of the 60s, prior to the emergence of folk-rock.
The Liverpool foursome had a weekly TV programme that introduced many to the burgeoning folk club scene, and they released a series of best-selling albums on the major Phillips Record label.
When The Spinners finally called it a day, they each went their separate ways. Hughie continued singing. Today, he still runs a weekly folk club, performs at Maritime Festivals around the world and continues to record albums of songs about the sea and his native Liverpool. His repertoire comprises of some of his own songs, songs by well-known and lesser known writers, plus numerous, well-tried, traditional favourites. Nearly all involve a chorus, so come in good voice.