Joe Stead – October News Letter. 2000


Things are starting to happen a little more quickly now with the release of my most recent album “Valparaiso round the Horn”.  The Valparaiso project was an obvious move that I should have made months if not years ago.  The workshop, first aired in Philadelphia of all places at Montgomery College, has now been repeated at Fylde, Maryport (twice) and Chippenham Folk Festivals.  At the latter I was very fortunate to be accompanied by Johnny Collins, The Portsmouth Shantymen and Hanging Johnny.  From this small seedling of a start I’ve subsequently been booked to appear at Tenterden Folk Festival (this month - October) Rochester Sweeps and Maryport again with other festivals already lining up to utilise this workshop next year.


One review of the album has thus far come to my notice written by Roy Harris from the Welsh magazine Taplas. 

“Joe Stead has been doing lectures on maritime music for some time and has come up with the idea of putting one on to a CD.  Lecture is a rather formal word, for this is a dramatically written and performed description of a clipper ship voyage from Liverpool to Valparaiso in the 1860’s.  Joe sings appropriate shanties for every stage of the trip, joined by a large crew of singers, mercifully free on unnecessary harmonies or fancy arrangements.  The narration is well paced and clearly spoken, making full use of sailors’ jargon and giving all kinds of fascinating information.  This is a splendid production, well suited to educational purposes, but worthy of a place on anyone’s shelf for sheer entertainment value”.


The month of October sees me back on the road again with a limited number of engagements.  If you live near any of these venues and want to check me out, say hallo, or simply heckle from a distance then please do not feel backward in coming forward…….

Tuesday October 3rd.  The Hogs Head, High Street, Manchester Town Centre (Behind Arndale’s).

Wednesday October 4th.  The Cross Keys, Uppermill, Near Oldham

Saturday/Sunday October 7th and 8th.  The Tenterden Folk Festival with Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, The Band of Two, Pete+Lucy Castle, Martin Young and Vic+Tina Smith amongst others.  (I’m doing the Valparaiso workshop Saturday afternoon and I’m in concert on Saturday night with Martin C and John K).  On Sunday I’ll be part of the folk club line up from 11am onwards.  For more details of this friendly little festival please contact Alan Castle on <>

Monday October 23rd. The George and Dragon, Potterne, near Devizes.

Wednesday October 25th.  The Bear Inn, Llantrisant, Near Cardiff, South Wales.

Thursday October 26th. Private House Concert in Bristol.

Friday October 27th. The Obelisk Hotel, Woolston, Southampton.


It’s been a very enjoyable summer.  In August I was back at the Maryport Sea Festival along with Shep Woolley, Paul Downes, The Amazing Mr Smith, Dangerous Curves, Gary+Vera, Bernard Wrigley, Geoff Higginbottam, Pete Watkins, Benny Graham, Hughie Jones, The Portsmouth Shantymen, The Boat Band, The Joyce Gang, and The Mollyhawks.  Quite a line up.


At the end of the Friday evening concert I was approached by a young man called Andrew Twentyman who wanted to show me a song he had written.  It was a very angry song, it had no tune and the words did not scan very well either. But there was no mistaking the sentiments.  I asked him if he would mind me adapting the song to make it slightly more presentable for human consumption.  Perhaps we could write a song together?  Well that is exactly what we have done. 


The song is presently called Another Maryport Winter – but I’m not entirely happy with that title. If anyone can come up with a better title I would be happy to consider it.


It's another Maryport springtime

The blossom is fresh on the trees

We open our hatch to a half-empty catch

Brought home on a half empty breeze

And it’s hardly surprising so little’s been caught

With a fleet of Dutch beamers way off on the port

And the Spanish and French, aye they’re still around

As together we harvest the same barren ground

In another Maryport springtime


It’s another Maryport summer

The children all swim in the dock

And out on the strand, by the long golden sands

We sit and we stare at the clock

For our quota’s been cut now almost to nought

They’ve sold all our fish before they’ve been caught

They turn a deaf ear to our cries for help

If you can’t catch the cod change tack for the kelp

In another Maryport summer


It’s another Maryport autumn

With the mist drifting in with the neap

With the rate of the pound why we’re all run a ground

With our hopes piled like nets in a heap

For I can remember a far better time

With such a rich harvest way out on the brine

And though boats still go out come sun snow or rain

I fear that those good times might not come again

In another Maryport autumn


It’s another Maryport winter

And my anger is hard now to hide

These long wasted years how they drive me to tears

As we wait for a turn in the tide

Yet hope springs eternal that’s what they say

And as gulls circle round at the end of the day

They swoop and they dive as in chase of the sun

Let us pray there is hope while the Ellen still runs

In another Maryport winter

In another Maryport winter

As we wait for the turn of the tide


© Joe Stead + Andrew Twentyman, Fore Lane Music, September 2000.


Written with the help of, Andrew Twentyman, Coach House Cottage, Allonby, Maryport, Cumbria.   


It’s amazing that I should write a song in tandem with somebody I’ve only met for 5 minutes in my life.  But the song has already aroused the interest of two other performers, and to date I’ve only sung it twice in public.


Maryport, by the way, is a little town at the mouth of The River Ellen caught in the Poverty Trap.  It can be located in the God-forsaken part of Cumbria just a little too far beyond the moneymaking moguls of the Lake District.  If the tourists visiting The Lakes would just take a few more steps to the West they could come upon Maryport and make it a wealthy little town.  Unfortunately for Maryport they seem to stay away.  But the Maryport Sea Festival is starting to put the town back onto the Map during the month of August, and for that a lot of thanks must go to both the West Cumbrian Tourism Initiative and Shep Woolley.  Shep works tirelessly over the weekend to make the festival a success, without his drive and enthusiasm it could never be the same.


There have been some huge changes made to my web page.  All five cd’s are now clearly posted on the site and the first 30 seconds of all the songs can be downloaded.  (Some say that’s 29 seconds too long!).  If you have problems listening without interruptions then the solution is to press the pause button until the entire 30 seconds of the song have been downloaded onto your computer before listening.  (Thank you Ray Cooper for explaining that little problem away).


I’m very fortunate to have my web page handled by Fortissimo Music of Philadelphia.  I’m in the same stable as Oscar Brand, Charlie Zahm, Bob Norman, Jay Ansill, Karen Goldberg, Ralph Litwin and Hans Theesink.  My web page address is simply >


I don’t know about you – but I frequently get letters from people advising me to beware various viruses that are floating about on the web.  I always reckoned that most of these so-called enemies of mankind were actually hoaxes.  I’ve subsequently found out that there is a web site called which lists all known virus hoaxes.  If you don’t know about this site then you might like to make a note of it.  It will save you a lot of anxiety attacks and also save you passing duff information onto others.


Keep smiling and keep singing.