MUSIC PROFILE: The Georgia Shackleton Trio explore new country sounds

The Georgia Shackleton Trio, Nic Zuppardi (vocals and mandolin), Georgia Shackleton (vocals and fiddle) and Aaren Bennett (vocals and guitar) at The Old Ship Inn, London Road, Long Sutton. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG160417-200TW.

An ancestor of one of the British Isles’s greatest explorers and two sensational “sultans of string” gave The Old Ship Inn, Long Sutton, a pub reopening to remember on Easter Day.

The Georgia Shackleton Trio, of Norwich and Wisbech, brought bluegrass, hillbilly and folk to the pub in London Road, next to Long Sutton Common Pit, on Sunday.

Singer/mandolin player Georgia Shackleton, a descendant of Anglo-Irish sailor Sir Ernest Shackleton who led two expeditions to the Antarctic in 1914 and 1921, leads the trio.

But the contributions of guitarist Aaren Bennett and mandolin player Nic Zuppardi, who studied with Georgia at Newcastle University, cannot be understated.

Georgia said: “In America, there a few, traditional music degrees at universities and there’s one in Limerick too.

“But the one at Newcastle University is a performance-based course which is how Nic and I linked up.

We play quite a bit in lots of different places, but we always enjoy playing pub gigs which are bread and butter for us as a band

Nic Zuppardi, mandolin player with The Georgia Shackleton Trio

“At the time, I was playing at a folk club as a solo act and then Aaren joined us from a folk group called Addison’s Uncle led by Philip Pearson.

“We’ve been together as a trio for about two years, having been influences by lots of quite famous bands that Nic and I discovered while studying in Newcastle.”

Sunday’s two sets saw the trio effortlessly sway from more traditional songs like “Coal Tattoo”, written by Billy Edd Wheeler whose songs were performed by Johnny Cash, to their own material from debut album “The Dog Who Would Not Be Washed”.

Nic said: “We play quite a bit in lots of different places, from folk festivals to tours of Belgium and The Netherlands.

“But we always enjoy playing pub gigs which are bread and butter for us as a band.

“It’s a big way of networking locally, something that’s quite important for us to do.”

The Georgia Shackleton Trio built a whole new following after winning the 2014 Simply Acoustic competition in King’s Lynn, with one of the acts edged out none other than Holbeach boy band Fazed (now Sacred Nations).

Georgia, Aaren and Nic also opened this year’s Spalding Folk Club programme with a concert at South Holland Centre in January.

Nic said: “A lot of our material is folk-based as Georgia’s background is in traditional and quite English folk stuff.

“I bring more of the bluegrass sound, while Aaren brings a drive and range to our music.

“You can cover quite a lot of ground doing that and when we play at a pub, our sound relates to quite a lot of people.”

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