“And now we can’t wait to show the rest of the country what they’ve been missing – singing live is in our blood, almost as much as the sea,” says extravagantly moustachioed MC and bass man Jon Cleave.
Britain’s oldest boy band emerge from lockdown and hit Brighton Dome as The Fisherman’s Friends – combined age 401 (and three-quarters) – in their Unlocked & Unleashed tour for 2021.
Thanks to the small film with a big heart that shares their name, the story of the original Cornish ‘buoy band’ is known around the world – bound by shared experience, for 40 years they have met on the Platt on the harbour in their native Port Isaac to sing the songs of the sea.
Starring Daniel Mays, James Purefoy, Tuppence Middleton and Noel Clarke with cameo appearances from the group whose voices also appear on the soundtrack, Fisherman’s Friends took $10 million at the box office and saw the boys perform at the 2019 Cannes film festival as well as sell out another UK tour.
This year, despite the best efforts of the global pandemic, the boys have kept fans entertained in lockdown posting weekly songs and poems on their YouTube series ‘Mares Tales & Mackerel Scales’. They also played sell out summer shows at Cornwall’s iconic Minack Theatre and performed at screenings of the film at the Wavelength Drive-In Cinema in Watergate Bay.
Next year filming begins on Fisherman’s Friends 2 as the boys return to the studio to record a new album, the follow up to the hit soundtrack album Keep Hauling that is well on its way to Gold sales.
Cornwall’s best-known musical export, a decade ago The Fisherman’s Friends were persuaded to sign the million-pound record deal that saw their album Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends go Gold as they became the first ever traditional folk act to land a UK top ten album. Since then they’ve sang at HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, played Glastonbury festival and been honoured with the Good Tradition Award at the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. They’ve also been the subject of an ITV documentary, released the hit albums One and All (2013), Proper Job (2015) and Sole Mates (2018) and continued to play to tens of thousands of fans at home and abroad.
The Fisherman’s Friends are: lobster fisherman Jeremy Brown; writer/ shopkeeper Jon Cleave; smallholder and engineer John ‘Lefty’ Lethbridge; builder John McDonnell (a Yorkshireman who visited Port Isaac more than 30 years ago and never left); Padstow fisherman Jason Nicholas; film maker Toby Lobb and the new boy, former ambulance driver Pete Hicks.