January 2006 - Newsletter 81
40 Years (It could have been life)
It's all a bit of a miracle really but in 2007 we celebrate 40 years as a professional band. Plans are afoot to commemorate this momentous occasion although Pete insists I put 'God Willing' on the bottom of all the contracts these days. We are working on a DVD/Video with snips from current events and, hopefully, pieces of film from years gone by. Jenny Biggs brought the camera along to our New Year Celebration to capture the atmosphere of a Yetties type knees up and hopefully she and Phil will visit us at our Halsway Manor Weekend in February. We will probably set up one or two interviews with old friends as well. I have been in touch with Jim Lloyd, who was our manager for 13 years. He now lives in Australia but will be over here for a while in the summer and, hopefully, we will catch him during his stay. Mac has found a short clip of us dancing at a festival when were in our teens. 'The Yetminster & Ryme Intrinseca Junior Folk Dance Display Team' rides again. It will be very interesting to see if we could actually dance back in those days or whether people applauded because we were quite unique. The folk dance scene in Dorset tended to be dominated by ladies who had lost their husbands and loved ones in the trenches of the 1st World War and to have us youngsters leaping about all over the place must have been a bit of a shock. However, we were encouraged very much by Bill Rutter, the local organiser of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, and anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed cuddling the girls without getting our hands slapped. Well, tis only natural.
The other thought is a 2007 calendar with pictures of 'Yetties Through The Ages' at the top of the each month. I promise here and now that there will be no baring of anything untoward. Not even a hint of indiscretion. Who said 'Shame'?
Old Yetties LPs
It's wonderful how the system works. No sooner am I getting low on supplies than someone comes along with another batch of LPs. Thank you so much. I can assure you that I find good homes for them where they will be much appreciated. I have managed to re-house quite a few over the last couple of months and it's very satisfying. The latest estimate for Halsway Manors' new library and someone to run it as a proper research establishment is £250,000 so I need to sell quite a few more at a fiver a go to raise enough cash.
LPs in stock at the moment are: Keep A Runnin'; Our Friends The Yetties; Dorset Is Beautiful; The World of The Yetties; All At Sea; The Yetties of Yetminster; The Village Band; Up In Arms; Let's Have A Party; Up Market; In Concert; Dorset Style; A Little Bit of Dorset, A Proper Job and The Yetties. If you would like any of these to add to your collection please ring 01935 814611.
Halsway has a considerable stock of Folk 78 records, which I sorted about 3 years ago. It was always my ambition to make CDs of them but the technical knowledge was way beyond my limited expertise. However, Deryck and Anthea Deane, who live near Halsway volunteered to have a go and, bless 'em, they have not only cleaned them all up and put them onto CD but they have produced a CD for sale of some of the best tracks. The records that are over 50 years old are now out of copyright so we are not treading on anyone's toes by doing this and the results are great. You have to bear in mind that the musicians involved were the tops at the time, some of the arrangements are by Cecil Sharp and the conductor on several tracks is none other than Ralph Vaughan Williams. There are also a couple tunes on the Northumbrian pipes by the King of Pipers, Jack Armstrong.
Library Country Dance Tunes CD1 can be purchased by sending a cheque for £12 made out to 'Halsway Manor' (this includes postage) to Halsway Manor, Crowcombe, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 4BD.
Memory Lane (Norway)
People pay a lot of good money to cruise the fiords of Norway and good luck to them say I but the prospect has not attracted me since out tour over there in 1985. The organisers of a Folk Festival in the port of Harstadt had, somewhere or another, seen a video of us sweating away at a village barn dance and this prompted them to book us. We asked for an itinerary before we went but this was not forthcoming and when we arrived we realised the reason why. In summer, north of the Arctic Circle Norwegians don't sleep very much. Those we met seemed to drink plenty of well-doctored coffee and keep going and they expected us to do the same. Because of the video we weren't involved much in the main festival. We spent a lot of time travelling from village to village. The classic day of the week went something like this. Sing until 2 in the morning then get up in time to catch the 7a.m. ferry up the fiord. After 2 hours get off and carry all our gear to the middle of the village and wait for a bus to 'O'. Well, let's be honest you feel a bit of a pillock stopping every bus and saying 'O' to the driver. Eventually we got the right response and we wandered off around the lanes of Norway. The bus stops and the driver shouts out 'O' and starts piling our instruments etc. out the door. We are at a cross roads with not a house in sight. Then in the distance we see a car, it turns out to be our taxi. Shove everything into the back and climb in. The taxi sets off down a little track which looks as if it is normally only frequented by tractors and pulls up at a tiny quay on the side of a fiord. We get out, the taxi disappears back along the track and we are left scratching our heads once again. Then across the fiord comes this little boat with a gentleman waving to us merrily. There is big drop from the quay to the boat but we make it without sinking the accordion or ourselves. Chug, chug, chug across the fiord in a boat which is obviously not built for more than two people and a dog. The water is just about below the gunwales but stand by to bale at any moment. We get to the other side and lo and behold there is a tractor to take us to the village of Flaxtovo (I'm sure I've spelt this wrong but you won't find in on the map so who cares). The result a mid-summers day concert at midnight on a hill in the drizzle with the whole population of the village present. A total of 42 Norwegians having a ball.
Goodness knows how many years we have been running this club but we still have to keep plugging away because even the people of Sherborne don't seem to know about it. The idea is to give people a platform on which they can perform to a very friendly audience. It's the way we started all those years ago in the Folk Clubs and it's great to be able to help others to show off their talents. We are particularly pleased with some of the youngsters over the last few years who we have seen blossom into excellent musicians and singers. One example is 14 year old John Blackmore who some of you will have seen at our Christmas Concerts in Sherborne. When he was on stage you could hear a pin drop, the audience were enthralled.
Most times we rely on artists just turning up but now and then we book professional guests. On the 5th of April, for instance, we have John Connolly from Cleethorpes who wrote such folk classics and Fiddlers Green and The Punch & Judy Man. Last time he came the place was packed and he gave a cracking night.
Other Folk Clubs
There were hundreds of these around the country when we turned professional. We could have worked every night of the week but these days you have to dig a little deeper to find them. One such has just come to my attention. The Wessex Acoustic Club meets at The Mount, Blandford Road, Corfe Mullen on Saturday nights. They have booked John Connolly for April and have an impressive list of artists booked this year. Judy Cook from the USA; Sarah Grey and Kieron Means; Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies; Cloudsheet (a Duo from Australia) and many more. If you are interested ring John Butcher on 01202 690856, Kathy Dunn on 01202 732239 or log on to their web site at http://wimborne-acoustic.co.uk.