Reviews and Comments

Friday 12 September 2014

The Little Theatre, 20 Hogton Street, Southport, PR9 0PA  (In the bar)  8 pm

Friday 31 July 2015: The Atkinson, Southport

"GREAT performance everyone - smashing atmosphere with over 200 people there! Well done."  (Comment via Facebook)

"Really enjoyed the show at the Atkinson, Southport. A little known story that deserves to be better known."  (Comment via Facebook)

"Respect and admiration to you all for putting together such an informative, sensitive and powerful performance of an event that took place so close to home you could see those men, mothers, fathers, wives and children at their garden gates.  Couldn't help but be moved." 

"It was a truly brilliant evening, very professional and very moving."  (Comment via Facebook)

"Many, many thanks for a brilliant night. The music and vocals are first rate and the story is so interesting and told in such a unique way, with the aid of the screen. ... I hope you can put Cork Jackets and Drill on again at the Atkinson Studio Southport.  It's a great venue for Southport and I would bring quite a few people as I'm sure others from Friday's audience would too."  

"Your performance not only portrayed total professionalism, but also total commitment to the cause and personal connection with the tragedy. Not that it’s all serious academic stuff, the tunes, instrumentation and harmonies couldn’t fail to entertain."

"Writing – inspiring, credible and bringing the characters to life in our minds.  

Narration – perfect diction, timing and emphasis.

Instrumentation – well-blended guitars and fiddle, always balanced and restrained, allowing the all-important words to be heard clearly. Fascinating touches with the shruti box, fiddle “seagulls” and Clive’s “wind & wave machine” !

Harmonies – deep & resonant, adding real dramatic impact at just the right times.

Visuals – the projected images were really the icing on the cake. Seeing real photos of the lifeboats, their crews, and the places where the tragedy unfolded, in perfect co-ordination with the developing story, was what lifted your show above the other folk operas we’ve seen."

Image description

Friday 16 January 2015: New Longton Village Hall

"An excellent show and a fine tribute to the brave lifeboat men who gave their lives in the saving of the Mexico crew." (Comment via Facebook)

"We were very moved by the performance, one which vividly conveyed the enormity of the 1886 disaster and the selflessness of the volunteer crews.  As fundraisers we were already aware of the incident but the story still needs to be told today and forever."

Peter Lomax, Honorary Treasurer, RNLI Chorley Fundraising Branch

Friday 31 October 2014: St Annes Library

Greetings from all at St Annes Library and many thanks again for last night, everyone really enjoyed the evening and we had some  lovely comments about the performance which was in the words of one of the attendees "One of the most interesting and entertaining nights I've ever been to, an amazing experience".

Sandra Wilson, Assistant Manager, St Annes Library.

Friday 17 October 2014: Disraeli's, Ormskirk

"This was brilliant. An excellent night out. A great story beautifully told."  (Comment via Facebook)

CD Review published in Folk North West (Winter 2014/2015 edition):

Cork Jackets and Drill by The Cork Jacket Crew CJR 001

Southport presents a calm and genteel face to the world. You would not suspect it to be the scene of the worst disaster the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has ever known. But on the night of 9 December 1886, the barque Mexico sailed from Liverpool into the teeth of a storm, and was driven onto the sands at Southport. Lifeboat crews rowed out from Lytham, St Annes and Southport to attend the wreck. The Lytham lifeboat safely rescued the crew of twelve but, tragically, the other two lifeboats capsized with the loss of twenty eight lives.

The story seemed to be slipping out of the local memory, so Southport singer Len Pentin has set the drama to words and music, and has gathered a cast of narrator Colin Wayte and the musicians of the Bothy Folk Club - Pete Rimmer, Chris and Siobhan Nelson and Clive Pownceby - to share the songs and accompaniments. Cork Jackets and Drill had its premiere earlier this year. It has been performed to appreciative audiences in and around Southport and deserves to be heard more widely.

Southport Sands sets the scene, with Colin Wayte speaking over fiddle and guitar and atmospheric percussion from Clive Pownceby. The unaccompanied ensemble then introduces the story in Down to the Shore. Chris Nelson leads the hypnotic Soul Savers, singing about the fishermen who made up most of the Southport lifeboat crew. Winter Dreams, sung by Siobhan Nelson, describes their struggle to make a living on the sands.

The tragedy steadily unfolds. The cheery Leaving Song sees the Mexico set sail from Liverpool. Then comes the brooding Storm Song, sung over a drone and the crashing of waves, featuring each singer in turn. Boys of the Mexico reveals the first doubts of those on board, worries shared by those ashore in Home Safe Tonight.

The lifeboat men put out to sea in Great Lifeboat Disaster. The families waiting on the Southport shore saw a green rocket, and assumed their crew was safe. Their optimism is the cause for good cheer in Green Light, with upbeat fiddle from Chris Nelson. Alas, the desperately sad truth emerged in the cold light of day. The consequences are sensitively explored in Gone to Sea, Flowers on the Water and Have You Seen my Boy?

Commemoration names the men who died over the tune of Lowlands and the wash of waves. Sixteen women were widowed and fifty children lost their fathers. Pete Rimmer sings Penny or Pound, recalling the collections that were taken to raise funds for the families in need. Reprises of Down to the Shore and Soul Savers complete the CD.

It’s a moving and compelling story, well told and skilfully performed. Check the Cork Jackets and Drill website for shows in Southport and across the Ribble in Lytham. See the show and take the CD home, or order it direct through the website.

Henry Peacock

Friday 12 September 2014: Little Theatre, Southport.

"I went to Friday's performance and loved it. As a descendent of one of the "soul savers" I think you did them proud."  (Comment via Facebook)

Wednesday 2 July 2014: Everyman Folk Club, Liverpool. 

"Superb songs and script and wonderful performance by all the crew. Thank you so much!"  (Comment via Facebook)

Friday 23 May 2014: St Peters Church, Southport.

"Tears in our eyes, tingles on arms - you have done the memory of the crews proud. Wow!"  (Comment via Facebook)

Thursday 8 May 2014: Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport

Many thanks to Peter Cowley for this great review.

Wednesday 9 April 2014: Formby U3A (University of the Third Age). 

"Cork Jackets and Drill,” the show which appeared at the April U3A meeting, is a musical documentary telling how in December 1886, the dreadfully impoverished fishermen of Southport, Lytham and St. Annes bravely gave battle one gale-ridden night, in an attempt to save the crew of the German ship, Mexico, in distress off Southport sands. All the crew of the St. Annes lifeboat were lost, as were most of the Southport crew. The Lytham lifeboat managed to save the crew without loss of life.

The harrowing tale, cleverly brought to life by Southport playwright Len Pentin, who also wrote the original songs, was beautifully executed by narrator, Colin Waite and members of Southport based, Bothy Folk group [sic]. The instrumentation, comprising guitars, fiddle and percussion and the group's harmonious singing were both brilliant and highly moving. I particularly enjoyed "There's a Storm Brewing", "Have You Seen My Boy?", "Looking for a Green Light" and "Can You Spare a Penny," but all the songs were excellent and beautifully sung.
The show is presently touring Sefton and for lovers of local history and folk music of the highest quality, this is a show not to
be missed. 

David Davies