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Sunday 12 July 2009

Encounter With A Yettie

I have just come back from a weekend in Dorset revisiting some haunts of my youth. On Saturday afternoon I was in Yetminster for the annual Fair. In the old days Saturday night in Yetminster was synonymous with the meat raffle in the Railway Inn. Even my stern grandmother had to forgive me when I staggered in at midnight drunkenly waving a bag of lamp chops for Sunday lunch.

Yetminster has long been a hot bed of musical talent, including my old friend Kevin Smith of Distortion and Backwater fame - I was briefly their lead singer until I was replaced by someone who had a PA system, but I'm not bitter. Even more famous than Kev are The Yetties, one of the West Country's premier folk groups. For West Country lads of my generation whether you were considered cool in certain circles depended on whether you favoured the Yetties or the Wurzels - it was like the Beatles vs the Stones but with accordions.

Personally I have always been a Yetties man, partly because of the local connection - I went to the same school as them, many years later - but also because in my view the Wurzels sold out shortly after the untimely death of Adge Cutler in 1974. The Yetties have stayed true to the tradition and are still going strong after well over 40 years. On behalf of the British Council they continue to tour the world, introducing people everywhere to the delights of songs about cider.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was on Saturday to find two of the three Yetties - Bonnie Sartin and Mac McCulloch - manning a stall at the Fair, selling vinyl copies of early albums for £5 with all proceeds going to charity. I got all tongue-tied but managed to exchange a few words with Mr Sartin while purchasing a copy of the classic 1972 album "Dorset is Beautiful".

I haven't yet had a chance to digitalise that album, so instead here are a couple of tracks from their debut album released in 1969, "Fifty Stone of Loveliness". Both of them are old standards: "The Maypole" and "To Hear The Nightingale Sing":

I can't find any clips of the lads on YouTube, so instead here are Ed "Stewpot" Stewart and Steeleye Span.

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