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In honour of Vin Garbutt, in support of a venue he loved


Live music may still be a distant dream but from a battered and bruised sector some of us regard as vital to humanity has come a stream of virtual events to ease the pain of Covid-driven deprivation.

I am luckier than many. I attended a live event as recently as September, a concert of light classical music staged in the open air beneath cliffs in Italy's gorgeous Cinque Terre coastal strip. Temperatures were taken, seats were carefully placed well apart and the occasion felt entirely safe.



In folk, artists and venues have striven to make up for lost work in imaginative and often uplifting ways, from the tremendous concert staged by Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman in a theatre near their Somerset home - wholly professional with everything you'd expect at a well-organised gig, save for the absence of an audience - to the Isolation Pub Sessions series uploaded to YouTube by the Bellowhead co-founder John Spiers

Vin Garbutt, who died in 2017, would have hated lockdown with a passion.

Even as his health declined, he thrived on real audiences. I hope he would have overcome any natural modesty to given his blessing to The Gathering : A Celebration of the Spirit of Vin Garbutt, a project planned for March 11-14 by one of his favourite venues, the Saltburn Theatre run by the seaside town's Community and Arts Association.

I shall simply reproduce the association's own announcement below and express the hope that it is a resounding success.

Vin was a special man and held a special place in my thoughts. We met through the folk clubs of the North East of England where both of us grew up, Vin on Teesside, me in south-west Durham, and he later performed with distinction at folk clubs I ran or helped to run in Darlington, Bishop Auckland and my home town, Shildon.

* See also (the first item has onward links to others):


And here are details of the Saltburn commemorative event

Vin Garbutt was a world-renowned Teesside legend who sadly died in 2017. Greatly loved and respected across the globe, The Gathering : A Celebration of the Spirit of Vin Garbutt is a unique  festival that will bring people together to be reminded of the extraordinary life and career of one of our region’s most famous sons in a host of virtual and creative ways!

Whilst we are getting closer, real gathering is, of course, still off the agenda but I hope that you can see that the spirit of who Vin was and what he achieved can still be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

Like so many others across Britain, Saltburn Theatre has struggled during the pandemic. Vin would have been one of the first to find ways to help the team at the venue as they work towards a reopening later this year. This event will go some way to help that cause.

Please do join us by following the individual links to enjoy specific aspects of the event and I hope you can spend some time with us as we share the   words, the music, the footsteps and the impact of the one and only Teesside Troubadour.


          Mike McGrother

          Event Curator

PROGRAMME & TICKETS -March 11th - 14th 2021

Thursday 11th. Set in Stone. 7.30pm10.00pm A unique, streamed presentation of poignant extracts from Craig Hornby’s TWO films, A Century in Stone and Teesside Troubadour. Craig’s films and words provide an extraordinary insight into Vin - where he came from and what he became. Followed immediately after by an online hosted Q & A with the director and an undoubted chance to share some memories of Vin.

Tickets £5 available from to include film access. Purchasers will also be sent a zoom link to take part in a post film Q & A with film maker Craig Hornby and Festival curator Mike McGrother.

Friday 12th 1.30pm. Wings. Wild Rover Mike McGrother delivers an assembly to Vin’s old Primary School inspiring the children of today to follow his example and the words of the song – using your strong roots and powerful wings to find your way in life and make your mark. Sorry – this event is a closed gathering.

Friday 12th 8.00pm – 9.00pm. Persona Grata. A podcast ‘in conversation’ with Vin Garbutt and biographer Michael McGeary using never before heard footage of Vin talking about life, his beloved Teesside and his career complete with spontaneous singing and inevitable laughter and tears.

Free Podcast link available from from 11th March with Podcast going live at 8pm

Friday 12th 9.00pm – 10.00pm . Ring of Iron. BBC Tees pay tribute to Vin by talking to his friends across the world and playing exclusive interviews and recordings of songs inspired by him. Listen free via DAB / 95FM

Saturday 13th 9.00am and at your leisure! ‘Vin’s Way Pt 1 Leaving Slaggy Island.’ We reveal, on Vin’s official website, the first steps of a new walking trail planned and designed by Mike ‘The Wild Rover’ McGrother, Craig Hornby and Vin’s family. This first part of the walk, which will be mapped out with an accompanying playlist of illustrative songs, will allow people, (following COVID guidelines) to follow in Vin’s formative footsteps in South Bank and up to Eston Nab as he took the brave stride to follow his dream and become our Teesside Troubadour.

Route and illustrative playlist revealed at 9am via

Saturday 13th 7.00pm – 10.30pm Plugged! Again!! From Saltburn Theatre and many other stages… hosted by Mike McGrother, Pete Davies and Tim Garbutt, Vin’s musical family come together with songs and sets covering his own and other songs of the region in a variety of expected and… less traditional ways.

A special prologue film created by Vin’s pal Stan Graham will be shown at 7.00pm before our concert begins at

Tickets £5 available from link vi

Event will begin showing at 7.00pm and be available to view for 24 hours

Sunday 14th 9.00am and at your leisure! ‘Vin’s Way Pt 2 When The Tide Turns’. The second part of our autobiographical walk takes us from Saltburn Theatre to Vin’s local and musical home, The Station Pub in Loftus. Once again, the route planned and illustrated by song, Again, people are encouraged to walk in their own time and following COVID guidelines. Vin’s Way will become more established as lockdown rules allow, but for now, enjoy some of his favourite places and walk in some of his footsteps!

Route and illustrative Playlist revealed at 9am via

Sunday 14th 3pm – 4.15pm ‘If’. A Mass celebrating the life of Vin Garbutt’. Vin’s faith underpinned his life and indeed much of his musical repertoire. We end our gathering with a streamed musical service of thanks attended by a small invited congregation and some of Vin’s musical friends – all in agreement with Middlesbrough Catholic Cathedral.


Streamed coverage via  ... this link will also be available to view after the Mass.

And later in the year, The After Show party! A showing of a documentary of how we created a ‘gathering’ (when no one would could gather) in Saltburn Theatre, led versions of Vin’s Way and a celebration in a slightly more traditional sense in The Station, Loftus.

Details to be revealed by and when lockdown restrictions are lifted to a level where we can raise a glass in PERSON to our Teesside Troubadour!




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