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January 2007 - Newsletter 84

The Yetties of Yesteryear
The planned 40 Years of The Yetties DVD, let's be honest, is going to take an age to finish. So we have decided to put together a CD of songs and music from the LPs we made between 1970 and 1986. These are all tracks we have not re-recorded and released on our current CDs and some of the tracks feature Sherborne Town Band and other guest artists. We are aiming for an end of January release date and so far things are running according to schedule. There are 21 tracks and these are: The Village Band, We Were Gathering Watercress, Slieve Gallon Braes / Wild Colonial Boy / Green Glens of Antrim, Stormalong, Dancing Days, Diggory Venn the Raddle Man, Have a Drink on Me, John Small, Long Pond, Bandy Bertha's Birthday, The Storyteller, Dad's Medals, Early One Evening, The Last Rose of Summer / The Bloody Fields of Flanders, The Peasant's Revolt, We've Got Oil, Barwick Green, The Peat Bog Soldiers, The Scholar / Sheehan's Reel / Peter Street, The Parting Glass.

The English Folk Dance & Song Society have decided to honour us by presenting us with their Gold Badge for services to Folk Music. This came completely out of the blue and is mainly due to the efforts of our good friend and Yetties historian Roland Birchby who put such a good case for the award. We are not sure when the presentation will be made but probably at Halsway Manor in the summer.

At the Halsway Manor A.G.M. last October I was asked to become President of The Halsway Manor Society. I'm not sure I'm Presidential material but it is a very great honour and I will certainly do whatever I can to help publicise and generally raise the profile of the Manor. I have already written a history of the house, which I intend to do as a talk, illustrated with songs, to any organisation that will have me. There's pirates, royal connections and, of course, ghosts.

40 Years Anniversary
We have had much debate about how to actually commemorate that memorable day when we turned professional, the 1st of October 1967. In the end it was decided to keep things near to home and book Yetminster Village Hall for the 5th and 6th of October this being the nearest weekend. We're not sure what is going to happen yet but it will probably be a Ceilidh on the Friday night and a Concert on the Saturday with talks and trips down memory lane on the Saturday afternoon. A bit of Yetties indulgence really with questions from the floor etc. etc. but not too embarrassing please. More details in the May Newsletter.

Memory Lane
On the 18th of February, 1978 we were working up near Oxford and Cynthia rang up to tell us to stay where we were because Sherborne was in the midst of a blizzard. It was most unlike any of our wives to interfere in this way but we still, very foolishly, took no notice. How daft can you get! But we had, after all, managed to get home through flood and storm many times. The first signs of trouble started about Amesbury. Just the odd snowflake gently drifting from the heavens. Then on the hill out of Wylye we came across a bus blocking the road and sliding all over the place. No trouble thought we, turn left and head for Salisbury, then right on the A30 for Sherborne. We were driving a Peugeot 504 estate at the time, a good solid bus with plenty of weight on board. We were hitting the drifts and blasting our way through and even passed a stranded Land Rover, which made us feel kind of proud. Then just before Fovant we hit a huge drift right in the spot where folk stop to view the regimental badges on the hill, the car bottomed out and that was that. The conditions were definitely wrong for staying in this rather exposed place because no matter how hard you try you can't see chalk badges in a snowstorm at 2 in the morning. We spent the night wrapped up in as many bits of clothing as we could find. In the morning we tried to get out the car but the snow had buried us so deep that the doors wouldn't open. Eventually a farmer found us and dug us out and we had to spend 2 days stranded in Fovant as guests of some fans who lived there. Their house was just opposite the pub so 'tweren't all bad and we treated our hosts and other stranded motorists to some entertainment in the evenings.

Yetties at Halsway Manor
From Monday July the 9th to Friday 13th we are at Halsway again. This will be rather more laid back than the weekend in February. Let's face it we aren't up to cavorting about for five days without stop. There will be a 'Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy' concert included and the usual dancing, singing, music workshops etc. and Bonny will be doing his 'History of Halsway' talk but you will have spare time to explore the countryside. Halsway is ideally situated for this, the Quantock Hills are out the back door, Minehead, Watchet, Dunster, Exmoor and The West Somerset Railway are all within easy reach. If you are interested give the Manor a ring on 01984 618274.

Old Yetties LPs
LPs in stock at the moment are: Keep A Runnin'; Our Friends The Yetties; Dorset Is Beautiful; The World of The Yetties; The Yetties of Yetminster; Focus On The Yetties (double album); The Village Band; Up Market; Dorset Style; In Concert; and A Little Bit of Dorset. If you would like any of these to add to your collection please ring 01935 814611. They cost £5 each plus £1 P&P Cheques to Halsway Manor.

The Peter Kennedy Collection has now been presented to the Halsway. 3000 books, 6000 records etc. etc. We are now in desperate need of a new library. Anyone got the odd £250.000 to spare?

Yetminster Fair
Ah! Ha! I hear you say, that's not for ages yet, but the way the years zip past July 14th will be here before you can turn around. Tickets for the evening concert can be purchased from Derek Mott, Stonechat, High Street, Yetminster, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6LF. Tel. 01935 872123. For other information, camping etc. ring Garth Hentley on 01935 873239. The phone No. for Tourist Information in Sherborne is 01935 815341. They can put you in touch with B&B etc.

Another Anniversary
In January 1907 the Hammond Brothers collected their last folk songs in Dorset. There is little doubt they would have kept going if Henry Hammond's health had not deteriorated. He and his brother Robert were extremely enthusiastic about their hobby but cycling around the lanes of Dorset on bone shakers was certainly not for the weak or feint hearted. It must have been rather like Doing the Dorset Dirt (see below) without gears and suspension. The year before they had met Marina Russell, ne Sartin, of Upwey and they decided a return visit would be worthwhile which, in the circumstances was very brave of them. She had a huge repertoire and once they had stirred her into singing, which probably didn't take very much in the way of persuasion, she was away. They were probably the first captive audience she had had in many years. They described her as 'Infuriating and unstoppable' but their main problem was that they had arrived a few years too late. Marina couldn't remember many of the verses, she hopped from one song to another and back again with Robert trying frantically to write down the words and Henry the tunes. Nevertheless they stuck to their task and added another 17 songs to the 83 they had noted on their first visit to Upwey. There was nothing particularly special about the words to Marina's ballads, many of them were fairly standard folk songs but some of the tunes w ere lovely. Over the years she must have, quite unconsciously, changed them to suit her own voice and style and the Hammonds were delighted. They didn't think anyone would sing the old songs again but the tunes were definitely worth preserving. We've proved them wrong in one way but we do owe them a great debt. If it hadn't been for people like them much of our musical heritage would have disappeared for good.

Doing the Dorset Dirt
On the 17th of September, I and 82 other slightly silly souls, did the Dorset Dirt. It's a 50 kilometre off-road cycle ride around the lovely hills (you notice I emphasise the word hills) of Dorset. It was a grand day and I only fell off once. I did a slow back flop into a gorse bush. Apparently I did it very gracefully and it was reckoned to be missed photo opportunity of the month. The object of the exercise was to raise money for The Dorset Association for the Disabled and The Children of Fiji. Both of which are charities close to my heart. Thanks to your generosity I managed to accumulate £720 which I split evenly between the two causes. Many, many thanks to you.