Song of the Day: Bothy Band ... The Maid of Coolmore
Song of the Day: De Dannan (with Dolores Keane) ... Rambling Irishman

Song of the Day: Vin Garbutt ... Valley of Tees

If the River Tees could sing, I once suggested, it would probably sound a lot like Vin Garbutt. In his voice you find the grit of Middlesbrough, pre-industrial decline, and the pleasures of the countryside to its west.

Even so, Vin is an acquired taste, as a comment from Malcolm Dawson, a friend and contributor to Salut! Sunderland, recently demonstrated.

Following his yellow-card observation that the Unthanks were "twee and sickly", he earned a straight red with: "Gosh I even know people who like Vin Garbutt and Pete Morton both of whom I’d travel miles to avoid!"

I have travelled miles to see Vin, in the North East, Northern Ireland, London and probably beyond. I have even paid him to play (I was running a folk club and he was self-effacingly cheap, a couple of quid plus - anti-social as this will seem these days - some beer and petrol money). He is a fabulous entertainer, funny and warm and bright. And he plays a deadly tin whistle.

Valley of Tees is a good song, maybe not his best but up there with his best 30 or so. What is more, I used to sing it, too, in the days when I deluded myself that anyone would want to hear my voice and guitar. Mind, they were also the days when the line "summers I've seen 23" didn't sound frankly absurd on my lips.

This is a live performance, capturing the banter and wit that appeal to so many but appals Malcolm. Oh, adds Malcolm in seriously confrontational mood, "better not mention my thoughts on Martin Carthy and the Watersons then!".

* Buy The Vin Garbutt Songbook, Vol 1 the album containing Valley of Tees, and any others that take your fancy, at this Salut! Live Amazon link


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