Human Cargo

“An elegant, vital insight into human suffering and survival” Cerys Matthews

“If you get a chance to see Matthew Crampton’s story-and-song ‘Human Cargo’ show, do not miss it.” Songlines

My show Human Cargo blends storytelling with folk concert to ask – does humanity actually evolve? Charting cruelties past and present, it delves deep into journey, migration and life. Each performance includes local stories from the Parallel Lives project and, where possible, partnership with local refugee or migrant support groups.

I perform the show solo or with other musicians. In the summer of 2018 I toured the country with American traditional music legend Jeff Warner.

Jeff Warner & Matthew Crampton (pic Tim Chipping)

It was a treat performing with Jeff. He has an ease and humanity which makes you want to listen all day. But the music is rooted in stark, dark themes that suited our subject. Jeff played songs collected by his parents in the Appalachians, along with shanties and other traditional gems. For a taste, check out his album Long Time Travelling.

The show is based on my latest book Human Cargo: Stories and Songs of Emigration, Slavery and Transportation. This links story and folk song to give voice to emigrants, slaves, convicts and other human cargo from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can buy the book here and read more about it at

“Incredibly inspiring, deeply moving and ultimately inspirational.” Sean Cooney, The Young’uns

“Beautiful, powerful, poignant and informative.” Ilyaz Hajat, The Refugee Council

Listen to me chatting with Cerys Matthews about Human Cargo on her BBC 6 Music show.

Here’s a thoughtful review from Amazon:



Here are some of the many illustrations in the book:

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