When The Yetties announced their intention to retire in Spring 2011 after
over 40 years as professional Folk Musicians it seemed appropriate that they
should return to the Midlands for possibly one last time. Although a long
way from Dorset, the county with which they are associated, they have, from
their earliest days, forged links with, and gained a following in, Shropshire
and the West Midlands, where their professional career began back in 1967.
A happy combination of many musical and personal qualities from three
very different performers has sustained the group as professional folk musicians
for more than 40 years. First and foremost, a deep love of the music they perform
underlies skilled musicianship. Known by many for their rousing chorus songs
and sending audiences away with the feelgood factor, their performance of folk
song and dance music is firmly rooted in an understanding and love of the tradition.
Forming in the early 1960s to play for folk dance evenings for the
Yetminster and Ryme Intrinseca Junior Folk Dance Display Team, their name was
shortened, reputedly by a ”local wit”, to The Yetties. When they decided to turn
professional in 1967, the secretary of the Giffard Club, Olga Nicholls, prompted
by a group of resident singers who had met The Yetties by chance at Halsway Manor,
organised their first professional tour in the West Midlands.
Dave Hunt recalls those days. I remember first meeting them when we
all went to Halsway Manor - and Taffy Thomas brought them along - I was thrilled
to listen to them sing and play. I believe we organised their first professional
tour and I know I had them all sleeping on my floor for a week! - After a few visits
to the Giffard they became good friends and would always pop in if they were in
the area and give the fledgling Corn Rigs band some tunes and dances - a couple
of which I am using to this day!!
The Yetties went on to achieve worldwide fame and to record more than 40
albums. They have travelled extensively under the auspices of the British Council,
have performed successfully on four continents. Closer to home, one of their
finest achievements has been to bring the Hardy family manuscripts to a wider
audience with recordings and performances of The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy.
Folk musicians who never fail to entertain rather than entertainers who
perform folk, Pete Shutler’s distinctive accordion style with intricate but
apparently effortless harmonies, Mac Macullough’s subtle guitar and banjo
accompaniment and Bonny Sartin’s fine and clear singing voice will be missed.
The concert at Shifnal Village Hall on October 23rd will be an opportunity for
friends old and new to enjoy one of their last performances as a group and to
wish them well in the numerous individual ventures they have already planned.