Bristol Shantyman Remembered
When local folk singer Erik Ilott died in 1988 he surely could not have foreseen that more than twenty years later a group of musicians and dancers would once again meet up to honour his name.
The life of the former Bristol shantyman is to be remembered in a walking tour of the historic Temple district later this month. During his regular spells on dry land Erik was an honorary member of the Bristol Morris Men, but what they didn't know at the time was that he had a similar connection with another group based in the Coventry suburb of Earlsdon.
In his will he left a small sum of money with the instructions that the two sides should meet in Bristol for a day's dancing on the somewhat arbitrary basis that they'd 'probably get on well together'. Despite initial reservations the groups embarked on that first tour, appropriately around Bristol docks. As Erik predicted, they enjoyed each other's company so much that they've continued to meet up every year since then.
Taking turns at hosting the event, locations have included Newent Onion Fair, Packington Steam Fair, Clevedon seafront and numerous folk festivals as well as regular walks around Coventry and Bristol. This year the groups plan to dance outside a number of pubs including the Portwall Tavern and the Cornubia as well as a showcase performance on the Centre later in the day. 'We feel sure that Erik would have wanted it that way' commented Bristol Squire (ie: chairman) Andy Brewer. He went on to say that Earlsdon's loud, marching style of Morris was ideally suited to a walking tour like this and he expected the procession to generate a lot of interest on the day.
Erik Day takes place this year on Saturday 20th October, starting at 11.00 at the Shakespeare in Prince Street and finishing on the Centre around 5.00.
Further details are available at www.bristolmorrismen.co.uk