S&P 49 May 2010


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Yetties Farewell

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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Jill Loach

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