Blog Archives

Crossing the Line – our new recording

Crossing the Line - CD cover
Crossing the Line

Forty Degrees South is happy to announce the publication of their new recording of nautical mayhem: Crossing the Line: songs of the southern oceans – see details under CDs and hear tracks on our Bandcamp page. You can obtain copies of the album or downloads via Bandcamp or direct from the group by emailing us. Paypal facilities available.

The album was recently completed in time for what was to be the Albany International Folk n Shanty Festival in WA in July 2021. Sadly, the festival has been affected by COVID-19 restrictions and is now scheduled for early October.

As the title suggests, the focus of the album is the southern hemisphere starting with Don Brian’s song “On the Middle Ground”, about the whaling grounds between New Zealand, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, is the first track on the CD.

Over half the songs date from the 1800s: some familiar titles like “South Australia” (track 21), are recorded here in very early versions. A New Zealand take on “Blood Red Roses” (track 13) concerns sealers rather than whalers. An American hymn by Phillip Bliss (1871) “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” (track 7) is still part of Norfolk Island’s maritime hymn tradition; “Nets Below the Gangway” (track 18) is a delightful poem from 1909 set here to a traditional tune. “Across the Line” (track 22) – a love song to the sea from about 1909 – makes a fitting conclusion to the CD.

More recent compositions include three titles by Harry Robertson (1923-95), a Scottish-born ships’ engineer who worked on whaling fleets from the North Atlantic to the Antarctic settling in Brisbane, writing clear-sighted songs about his experiences; a setting of Merv Lilley’s “The Birchgrove Park” (track 14) about a collier wrecked in Broken Bay; “The Wind and the Waves” (track 2) describes a convict’s voyage to Australia. Bernard Bolan’s whimsical “Rose Bay Ferry” (track 20), which topped the pop charts in 1974, is one of several cheerful and energetic songs on this album.

Forty Degrees South is indebted to Christina Mimmocchi and Greg White for their help in producing the album, and to the songwriters, collectors, authors of ships logs etc. And special thanks to the many singers worldwide who have influenced the group over many decades, not forgetting the shanty singers of the 21st Century who have refocused the love of these songs…

Norfolk Island – “On the Middle Ground” – James Craig Shanty Session – May 2014

James Craig

James Craig

The May 2014 James Craig Shanty Session will feature “Norfolk Island – On the Middle Ground” with Don & Sue Brian.

Don and Sue Brian have recently returned from 5 years of self-imposed exile in this fascinating gem of the southern ocean. Diligent researchers, they have immersed themselves in its history, particularly the log books and other historical records of whaling vessels that called in to the island and the songs that the whalers brought with them. Don and Sue will share some of the fruits of their research, conveying their enthusiasm and insights in a most engaging manner. This will be a really special night. As always, there will be plenty of opportunities to participate.

This session was originally scheduled for March 2014, but has been postponed due to circumstances beyond the control of the organisers. There will be a regular session on Thursday, 13th March at 7:30pm. Read the rest of this entry