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Shout Kernow Launch Dates so far

Shout Kernow talk at Helston’s Little Local Lit Fest

Come and join in the further adventures of Hilary and Sally! They will be retracing their footsteps celebrating the book with singers across Cornwall. Dates so far:

  • Friday 10th April – 7.30pm.  Helston Museum Literary Festival. Shout Kernow book talk, with Red River Singers. Helston Museum, Market Place, Helston TR13 8TH  01326 564027

  • Thursday16th April, 7pm, Bewnans Kernow course – Landithy Hall, Church Road, Madron, Penzance. TR20 8SN.

This five week course will explore the treasures to be found in the Shout Kernow pages; you will hear the wonderful tales of Hilary and Sally’s adventures into the world of Cornish pub singing; what the songs are, where they come from and who is singing and composing them.

We will also be learning very informally, some of the songs and harmonies too. Song words will be available and no music reading skills are necessary.

  • Thursday 4th June TBC – Book launch at Waterstones, Truro, 11 Boscawen Street, Truro, Cornwall TR1 2QU 01872 225765
  • 3-5th July Cornish Music Festival at The Seiners Inninc Shout Kernow celebration with Perraners, The Seiners Inn, Perranporth, Beach Road, Perranporth, Cornwall TR6 0JL 01872 573118.
  • Friday 11th SeptemberKresen Kernow. Time TBC. Shout Kernow talk, Cornish Studies Library, Alma Place, Redruth TR15 2AT, 01209 216760

Also every first Sunday of the month, shout at The Countryman Inn, Piece, Redruth, Cornwall TR16 6SG  01209 215960

Red Rivers launching Shout Kernow at Waterstones in Piccadilly
Red Rivers launching Shout Kernow at Waterstones in Piccadilly

To find out more about shouts across Cornwall see Shout Kernow Facebook page:

Penwith Points of View Course

Penwith Points of View Course
Penwith Points of View Course

Going up Camborne Hill – or Way down to Lamorna?  Take a journey into the rich traditions of Cornish pub singing at a free short course beginning on the 16th April in Madron.

The course is part of the Penwith Points of View heritage project and will be led Hilary Coleman and Sally Burley who have introduced Cornish songs to many singers.
Project co-ordinator Jane Howells “These five sessions will cover some of Cornwall’s best-known songs and the history and stories behind them.  Cornwall’s singing tradition is a distinctive and much-loved part of Cornish culture.  We are looking forward to some very enjoyable evenings and all are welcome.”
The course will also draw on a new book called ‘Shout Kernow’ by Hilary and Sally.  Hilary, who runs the Red River Singers says,
“The sessions will explore the treasures to be found in the book’s pages and some of the tales of our adventures into the world of Cornish pub singing.  Song words will be available and no music reading skills are necessary.”
The Traditional Cornish Singing course is free and begins at 7.15pm on Thursday 16th April in the Billiard Room, Landithy Hall, Madron. To reserve a place on the course contact
The Penwith Points of View project is a two-year heritage and culture programme taking place in the Madron area. The project is run by Bewnans Kernow, the partnership of Cornish cultural organisations.
More details can be found on their website at

Finally the book is ready!

Shout Kernow

Advance orders available!

Available in early March

Shout Kernow
Celebrating Cornwall’s pub songs

With two CDs containing 31 songs recorded live in pubs across Cornwall

Hilary Coleman and Sally Burley
ISBN 978 1903427 97 2
Paperback 164 pages
104 black and white illustrations
Notation for 30 songs

Shout Kernow is the result of a project begun in 2012 by Hilary Coleman and Sally Burley to record, celebrate and help sustain the living tradition of pub singing in Cornwall. Travelling around Cornwall, recording variations of songs in twenty-two locations and meeting numerous singers from Calstock to Cadgwith they have assembled a lively collection of words, tunes and harmonies, as well as the background to the songs and singers and information about the pubs and events where the singing takes place.

“Hilary Coleman – a bard of the Cornish Gorseth for her services to Cornish music (her bardic name ‘Atamiores’ means ‘pioneer’) and founder member of ground-breaking groups Gwaryoryon, Sowena and Dalla, the list of her musical achievements is impressively long. Assisted by singing enthusiast and Cornish culture-lover, Sally Burley, their initial findings suggest that the living tradition of having a bit of a ‘toot’, a ‘tuney’, an ‘after glow’ or a ‘shout’ down your local, is alive and well.”
– Cornwall Today Magazine

Pre-launch events for the Shout Kernow book!

Hil & Sally Dec 13 smallerWe’re happy to announce the imminent arrival of our pub song book Shout Kernow (about time too I hear you say!)
To whet your appetite we have a few pre-launch events if you fancy coming along:

Sunday 20th July – Penzance Literary Festival at Acorn Arts Centre bar, Parade St. Penzance,TR18 4BU, 7.30pm
Friday 1st Aug –Bewnans Kernow Summer Event, Shout Kernow talk, Baptist Church Hall, St Austell, 7.15pm
Tuesday 12th Aug – Helston Museum, Market Place, Helston TR13 8TH, 1pm,
Friday 22nd Aug – Cornish Evening at Heartlands,Pool TR15 3QY, 5.30pm,

Shout Kernow –
Adventures into the world of Cornish Pub singing

“We rolled from one song to the next and pints were clinked and clunked down with calls for more: it’s always an uproarious occasion.”

During 2012 Hilary Coleman and Sally Burley undertook a journey across the length and breadth of Cornwall, visiting pubs where they knew the tradition of Cornish harmony singing was taking place.

The idea behind this work of love was to take a snapshot of what was being sung and where. Twenty two visits later they have recorded their findings, and the result is a book and CD: Shout Kernow. This book will be published later this year and they are currently running some pre-launch events at a number of venues across Cornwall.
Come and hear the tales of their adventures wonderfully illustrated with some of the songs sung how they belong to be by the Red River Singers. Song words will be available if you would like to join in!
“Wonderful talk and songs. Informative, moving and inclusive.” Penzance Lit Fest 2013

At Home

Perraners at The Seiners, Perranporth                 Tuesday 11th December 2012

The Seiners is a great pub and the Perraners a great gang of singers!

The pub sits right by Perranporth beach with wonderful views of the wide stretch of sand and at high tide it feels as if it’s a ship at sea. Inside it has wooden floors and beams – great for acoustics.

Dan and Lisa took over the pub as owners last year with great trepidation. They had previously been landlords but when the owner went bankrupt they had to make a big decision – whether the pub would close or to jump in and turn it around. Happily for us they chose the latter and for a few months in the winter they teetered on the edge but as Summer came their fortunes began to change. Why? Not only because of the tourist season but because they are such friendly and welcoming people. They have great ideas too and an amazing amount of energy to see them through. At a time when pubs are closing so fast it’s a delight to know of a success story!

One of the ideas they have been so supportive of has been a regular Cornish music session (which I co-run with Neil Davey and Jen Dyer) on Tuesday nights and a shout afterwards with the Perraners.

Seiners session
Seiners session

The Perraners have regularly practiced in the backroom of The Seiners for several years and about 3 years ago they began to join us in the bar after their rehearsals. They started as a group after hearing the Calstock Singers sing at Lowender Peran (Interceltic Festival in Perranporth) in 2000. Some of the members knew the Cornish songs but wanted to develop harmonies and repertoire so they asked the Calstock MD – Ian Marshall to work with them. Ian not only still conducts the Singers when they perform as a choir but has also written some lovely arrangements of the pub songs. On their website they describe their name:

As Perranporth is named after St Piran who reputedly liked his ale, and picking up from the local saying “as drunk as a Perraner”, the name The Perraners seemed very appropriate for a group that insists on meeting in a pub!’ 

Some of the original members such as Chris and Karin Easton, Stuart, Nigel and Leslie are still involved and sing great renditions of many of the Cornish favourites. A few of them have also formed the great shanty group Stamp and Go. Others such as Steve – a great bass singer have started to sing favourite songs of their own such as ‘Martin Said To His Man’ and ‘Maggie May’– developing harmonies by regularly singing them.

Malcolm and more singers
Malcolm and more singers
Karin and other singers
Karin and other singers

As I play at the Seiners every week and join in with the singing too, it’s hard to choose a specific visit but these photos are from Christmas time when we sang local carols with them. One of their ‘own’ is the Bolingey version of While Shepherds Watched – which is a lovely arrangement – Chris Easton taught this to me as he grew up in Bolingey in a Methodist family.

Chris and others singing carols
Chris and others singing carols

The singers are incredibly welcoming and ready for anyone to join in so between them and the Landlord and Lady it’s a place to feel ‘at home’ in and just how pubs should be!

This Is Us

St Just Feast Sunday 4th (& 5th) November 2012

We’d heard about St Just Feast throughout the summer. ‘You going St Just Feast? That’s the place to be!’, ‘Got to get down St Just end of October, everyone goes there’. We wanted to catch the Cape Cornwall Singers anyway and so this seemed an ideal time. After checking it out with their contact Steve Gear we headed down with a few friends on a Sunday afternoon.

The Kings Arms
The Kings Arms
Kings Arms again
Kings Arms again

We arrived in the heaving back room of the Kings Arms in St Just square. There may have been an English flag flying from the Church but it was undiluted Cornish in here. There were singers from Bude, Newquay, St Merryn, Isles Of Scilly, Helston and of course all over Penwith too. Leading the way were the Cape Cornwall Singers, one man doing the line out (singing the first line to get the pitch).

‘The Cape Cornwall Singers were formed in 1997 in an attempt to resurrect the singing traditions of the area in the local pubs around St Just and West Cornwall.. Our distinctive sound was formerly familiar in impromptu sessions throughout the town, especially during the St Just Feast celebrations, but has declined in recent years due mainly to the demise of the local tin mines’

Harry Safari was there too of course as he has a close relationship with the singers who have popularised many of his songs. It was as if all the people we had visited throughout the summer had descended on this spot for a final sing of the year! Of course this was not true because we were about to enter the Carol Season – so many fine Cornish carols waiting to be sung and at St Just I heard the first ones: ‘Hark The Glad Sound’ & ‘Lo The Eastern Sages’. I was told that this is traditional. As is the feast. There are wonderful descriptions of the Feast by William Bottrell from the 1800s:

“Es time for me to be goan, for I’ve further to go than any of your other feasters.” [said Dick] “No, no,” said Mary, “stop over tomorrow and till servy day” (Feasten Wednesday) “if you will, and go with me and Grace to the fiddler, for I can shake my shoes in a three-handed reel yet and shall for years to come, I hope.” “I trust thee west,” said Jackey, “for my old grandmother danced of a Feasten Monday till she was eighty-two, and a better woman there never was.” The sports of the wrestling ring and plan-an-guare (the round) which was given up to the boys for their games at quoits, were kept up from daylight till dark night, when all went home for a hasty meal and to take the girls to the public house, where the fiddle and fife in every room put life into the legs of the dancers; but they seldom found fiddles enough, and many a merry jig and three-handed reel was kept a-going by the tune being sung to old catches…”              (“Stories and Folk-Lore of West Cornwall”, first published by Bottrell, Penzance, 1880, facsimile reprint 1996 by Llanerch Publishers, Felinfach).

The Feast used to only be on the Monday but nowadays the Sunday has become the traditional day for the singing, spearheaded by the Cape Cornwall Singers. So packed into the low beamed room we sang all the old favourites plus a few more popular in the West – one of my favourites has become ‘Safe In The Arms’ sung with such passion!

Then everyone heaved out of that pub and went across the square to the Commercial for the next bout. We had gone down with a friend who grew up in Nancledra and he began to meet familiar people, one of whos comment on the way was ‘This is what Cornwall’s all about; this is us!’

At The Commercial
At The Commercial

If possible there seemed even more people there and I was told that on Feast Sunday they do at least 200 covers in their restaurant! All ages got stuck in and it was amazing to look around at all the faces singing, grinning, laughing, shouting, giggling and concentrating on the job in hand  – the sound was incrediable and I felt swept along by it.

Some Of the singers
Some Of the singers

We heard a rumour that Bone Idol (from the Scillies) were singing back at The Kings Arms so before we went we popped in there for a quick listen – the contrast was extreme and the peace of the pub and the quiet, close harmonies was a lovely calm end to a brilliant visit.

This was one of our last visits and I think the Cape Cornwall Singers sum up what we have experienced in our journies across Cornwall:

‘Cape Cornwall Singers are ordinary people, with ordinary lives, who sing with passion of the enduring traditions and extraordinary beauty of our homeland’

Everyone was having a good time!
Everyone was having a good time!

A Light Still Burning

Cadgwith Inn – Oct 12th 2012

I was so looking forward to making this trip – funny how The Queens Head in Albaston was the place where it all began for me, yet inspiration came from the other end of Cornwall on the Lizard. The Cadgwith Singers  are famed in the world of pub singing and yet so little known outside of it!

We got to the Inn at about 9pm and were told by a few people we were too early! Still, it meant that we got a good corner to position ourselves in. The pub was lovely; small with nooks and crannies and great pictures on the wall – later on we were told, with typical Cornish humour, that one area was known the ‘dead corner’ because none of the people in those photos or paintings were alive anymore.

Tatty and the photos in 'dead corner' behind him
Tatty and the photos in ‘dead corner’ behind him

Amazingly while waiting, we ended up chatting to a couple who came from East Cornwall, in Chilsworthy who turned out to know, one after the other, people I knew, including my dad and then  I discovered they’d even lived next door to my brother for a while!

The singers began to arrive and with them an air of expectancy. Tatty (Dave Muirhead) appeared and was so welcoming whilst others pointed out people that would be good to talk to. These included Anne – the daughter of Hartley, a portrait of whom hung in the ‘dead corner’. He was one of the key people carrying on the singing from the 1920s when a minister at the local chapel started a fishermans choir in the 1920s. Anne remembered coming into the pub around the age of 17 in the 50s and said back then there were only 5 or 6 of them singing. She showed us wonderful hospitality too and bought us a drink.


Then the singing began and I was immediately drawn into something familiar and recognisable; partly because of my previous encounters with the Cadgwith Singers and partly because recordings of them had accompanied my life from my 20s; Tatty pitching up, medleys of songs merging together, easy laid back atmosphere and harmonies that have guided my own. Of course The Cadwith Anthem was sung as well as Lily Of The Valley (see earlier blog ‘Singing Position’on the story of this!) Then, for me, the icing on the cake; the arrival of Nutty  (Martin Ellis) and his deep, deep bass! Still wonderful and good natured; he kindly moved my digital recorder to a safer place before launching into South Australia – whacking the beams where he has for so many years that the paint had worn away!

Nutty whacking the beams in South Australia
Nutty whacking the beams in South Australia

We were also introduced to Richard, a fisherman still working out of Cadgwith, who pointed out that they had such a huge repertoire they could easily sing for 4 hours and not repeat themselves! The inclusivity of the singers meant there were women joining in too and we were treated to a wonderful version of ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’  when four of the women used wooden spoons from the bar as microphones!


Around 11.30pm P.C. (Paul Collins) came in, not singing as he had a sore throat. He is related to the other key singer who kept the singing going in Cadgwith – Buller. I realised I’d seen him somewhere else and he pointed out he was the chair of Duchy Opera and had worked on a project ‘One Day Two Dawns’ with us and the English Touring Opera. We propped up the bar and chatted, he laconically, for a good hour or more. Sally and I finally left the pub at 1.30pm into a world of darkness – no street lights to guide our way back to the car, but a light shone brightly inside of us all the same. 

Proper Job Shout

The Rashleigh Arms, Polkerris    Oct 6th 2013

This was just one of the evenings that we’d been to at the Rashleigh Arms in Polkerris, where my brother Will Coleman and a gaggle of singers meet sporadically. We have got to know these singers over the years when the Treggys have met up with them for Picrous eve – an old Tinners feast on ‘the first Thursday, before the last Thursday before Christmas’ a great Cornish carol night in Luxulyan. Will gathered them together initially from the Fowey area and then Lanlivery in order to sing the Cornish songs and keep them alive and kicking.

The pub calls itself ‘The Inn on the Beach’ and it’s easy to see why! It’s at the end of a long winding lane dropping down to the tiny village of Polkerris and is perched on the harbour side looking across St Austell Bay towards Black Head.

Will and other singers
Will and other singers

On a cold winters night a whole gang of us squeezed into the tiny pub – roasting by the fire! The hospitality flowed as jugs of beer and later sandwiches were brought out. As soon as enough singers had gathered Will pitched up and off they went full tilt! He is a loud and generous host inviting people to jump in and join in with great good humour. We rolled from one song to the next and pints were clinked and clunked down with calls for more. It’s always an uproarious occasion – not necessarily subtle but filled with enthusiasm and a great atmosphere is created. There are some lovely singers who turn up to these evenings regularly. One is the inimitable Gideon from East Cornwall who offers some great songs and throughout the evening he and Will become an almost comedy duo! Other singers also have party pieces such as Richard singing ‘Lets Hear It for Trelawney’ and Nick on the ‘Lily of the Valley’ which is treated with irreverence – a shoe ‘flown’ through the air on the line ‘what kind of shoes are those you wear?’ with the answering cry of ‘crocs’!


Other people in the pub seemed to be enjoying it too and one commented:

‘It’s good to see this great Cornish tradition alive. The number of younger people here tonight gives me hope for the future.

Some came from Nottingham and were wowed by the evening saying they’d never seen anything like it.

I was heartened by the amount of women there singing too. Pub singing may have once been a bastion of maleness (just being in a pub was anyway!) but now in the same way that some of the best pubs in Cornwall are surviving by becoming more a part of their community so the singing has become more inclusive.

Zenna, Sarah & Jo
Zenna, Sarah, John & Jo





‘Friends We Haven’t Met Yet’

Newquay and Scillies Rowing weekend Isles Of Scilly

29th Sept – 1st Oct 2012

Saturday:  Turks Head

Outside Turks Head , St Agnes
Outside Turks Head , St Agnes

On a beautiful sunny afternoon outside the Turks Head Pub close to the water on St Agnes, a lovely mix of people gathered from all over Cornwall – St Just, Charlestown, Falmouth, Devoran, Cadgwith, Bude, Newquay, Padstow, St Merryn, Treverva and of course the Isles Of Scilly! It was a real coming together with lots of banter; a slogan on a t-shirt read: ‘There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet’. Some have been coming for years (next year is the 50th!) and others were new this year.

Nig in fine voice!
Nig in fine voice!

Nig from St Merryn welcomed us and we continued to meet familiar faces over the weekend. We also got chatting to a few new ones. Marion from St Just was very excited to hear about our project and told us that her husband often remarks ‘nobody can be angry when they sing’ which I understand from my own experience! Funnily enough the rowing seemed to be almost separate from the singing – Sally and I saw our first gig of the weekend on the Scillonian coming home! There were a mix of men and women but the women seemed more around the edges although some were right in the middle cueing! Some of the songs were not so familiar to my ear but others were the usual with a few Harry Safari ones in there and ‘The Beautiful Islands Of Scilly’ seemed very appropriate – standing right there by the waters edge.

Sunday: Bishop and Wolf

We intended to catch everyone returning from St Agnes to St Mary’s but missed the boat! But as luck would have it so did a few others and we ended up in the Turks Head being very silly with singers from Falmouth and Charlestown

Charlestown bros
Row Boatman Row on the water!

And when we finally made our rough crossing back the wonderful brothers from Charlestown treated us to a rendition of ‘Row Boatman Row’ in t-shirts with the bass riff ‘blue, blue, blue’ on them – it felt like some mad karaoke moment with them pointing to their chests as the boat tipped and rocked!

When we got onto dry land we found our lodgings (courtesy of our good friend Piers) and got something to eat before venturing out again. As we neared the Bishop and Wolf we were surrounded by a gang of young men serenading us with a beautiful close harmony song! It dawned on me that this must be Bone Idol – the Scillies singing group and so it was. We all entered the pub chatting away and soon they were in the middle of the singing where they led a beautiful rendition of Harry’s ‘This Is My Cornwall’. Sally and I were pretty tired by then and so bade a goodnight to all and headed for bed!

Monday: Scillonian

Leaving IOS
The crowd on the dock with Johnny holding forth!

Our homeward trip was at 4 o’clock and prior to that everyone had been for a good sing at The Atlantic on the balcony, though there was such a tight cram that recording was very difficult. But what I really wanted to capture was the singing and departure on the quayside. This was a wonderful moment with crowds on the harbour serenading those on the boat who thronged to the rails and sang furiously back. Everyone was kept in time by Johnny Ball with his trusty whistle and lavish conducting!

Just as the gang plank was removed a huge commotion started up on the dockside and there was one of the Wreckers boys struggling to get through. With very uncertain coordination he squeezed through the fence and made for the boat accompanied by shouts from his fellow Wreckers of ‘leave him behind, don’t let him on’! The boatmen re-attached the gang plank and with a great deal of swaying (not just from the swell) he was aboard! As we sang Soldiers Farewell the boat started to pull away and Sally and I could no longer refrain from joining in, climbing onto the railings for a better view. The ships hooter blew mid-tune, accompanied by an announcement on the tanoy that those perching on the railing needed to climb down for their safety, and we were away.

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