The great singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell once said of her classic song The Circle Game, "This song isn't good with just one lonely voice." That's also very true of sea shanties and other maritime folk music. That's why, in 2016, three "senior officers" of the former Shanty Choir MIR decided to spin off a trio from the larger group to concentrate on the original "new old sea songs" of singer-songwriter Robert Palomo.
Briefly - the tunes tend to sound like traditional maritime music, and have even been mistaken for it - but of course, they aren't. Best way to get an idea is to listen to some.
The trio are all long-time expatriate residents of Saint-Petersburg, Russia. The group's name comes from the Russian sailor's warning of a man overboard: Chelovek za bortom! For English speakers, the name Men Overboard! whimsically delivers the same basic idea. What's actually "overboard" is the fun people are having discovering "new old sea songs" as rendered by this trio.
"Great fun - refreshingly different!" - Derek F. (Suffolk, UK)
"Familiar sounding, but not the same old songs!" - Joyce B. (London, UK)
"Very entertaining, even we didn't have any rum!" - Kees V. (Rotterdam, NL)
PETER DYSON (Vocals, Percussion) A Yorkshireman living in Saint-Petersburg and much taken with both, he "brexited" the UK 23 years ago to join Tishchenko's composition class in the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory.
A career civil servant in the British Home and Foreign Offices until early retirement, he is now leader of The English Element, (a madrigal group), singer in Men Overboard! (maritime folk trio), and Master of Ceremonies of The Club of Singing Diplomats (Moscow).
DAVID HICKS (Vocals)
He loves choral singing, and also performs with Peter in The English Element as well as a local classical choir. To the Men Overboard trio he adds his clear, quintessentially English tenor to the vocal mix, complete with authentic accent that helps link the group's original material with the tradition from which it stems. It was David who coined the group's name.
ROBERT PALOMO (Guitar, Banjo, Vocals) A multi-instrumentalist with a conservatory degree, roots in the folk, rock, and country music of his native USA, a passion for acoustic instruments and truly awful "island" shirts, Robert is the songwriting engine behind the Men Overboard's unique "new old sea songs", which he also records as a solo artist.
The trio performing at a Pub Session of the 2017 Harwich International Sea Shanty Festival:
Clip from BBC News Look East - October, 2018:
Men Overboard! / Za Bortom! are a great addition to any sea shanty, folk music or maritime festival. With a repertoire of new maritime folk music crafted with the tradition firmly in mind, plus salty songs in the language of their adoptive home country, the trio delivers that elusive "something new and different" that makes a festival a truly memorable experience for its patrons. Now booking for the 2020 festival season and beyond. Please contact us here.