The seeds of Jenkins Ear were originally sown in the ‘folk’ rich 60s when Ian, Rob and Pete were in the Royal Navy and found that singing in the bars of Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya and Cambodia was a great way of paying for their drinks. They kept in touch after leaving ‘The Mob’, singing together occasionally and in 1992, Rob (McGhee) formed Jenkins Ear with 4 other Guernseymen, Steve Letissier, Roy Hilton Jerry Cobb, andStuart Atkinson with Ian and Pete joining when required. (Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands, under British Sovereignty, 14 miles off the coast of France) Over the years the line up has changed and evolved to the current crew of 2 Guernseymen, Rob and Steve, plus 3 Englishmen, Ian (Pedlar) Palmer, Pete (Jan ) Purslow and Dave Jolly.
We have performed at events celebrating songs of the sea at Pampoul, Douarnanez, Brest, St Malo, Cherbourg, Bristol, Bremerhaven, Guernsey, Sark, London, Cancale and Jersey. Predominately in France in our early days as shipping 5 men to England from Guernsey was very expensive, even in steerage, but now with 3 of the crew already in England and cheaper flights we are getting more invites to English events.
Our repertoire includes Shanties, Forebitters and Songs of the Sea from all over the world, but particularly Britain, America and France.
Whilst the purpose of Shanties was to get a group of sailors working in harmony, the singing probably wasn’t, so whilst the contents of our songs are authentic, the sound, in deference to our audiences, isn’t. Full of harmonies and skilful instrument playing, our music is easy on the ear and gives a genuine taste of the sea, without too much salt.
Forebitters, the nautical equivalent of Country and Western, were sung ashore or when off watch, someone has died, lost their true love, been badly mistreated or they were an opportunity to make bawdy and disrespectful comment on the officers. There are also many songs celebrating events, battles, victories and tragedies, some historic, such as the death of Nelson, some contemporary, the stoppage of Tot and some which are just fun.