Festival Fling – with your Auntie Liz -Sat 31st Oct 2-4pm Vin Garbutt and Michael Marra
Vin Garbutt –The Teesside Troubadour
A Teesside legend – The one and only Vin Garbutt – From Glenfarg Folk Feast
Vin Garbutt was one of English folk music’s most respected “non-stars” of the late 20th century and the early 21st. Born Vincent Paul Garbutt in Southbank, Middlesbrough, of mixed Anglo-Irish parentage, he became a folk music enthusiast while in his early teens and began frequenting clubs while still at school in the early ’60s. He pursued the music part-time as a performer, focusing in part on the sounds relevant to the Irish side of his ancestry. Turning professional at age 21, within a couple of years he was ready to record, cutting his first album, The Valley of Tees, in 1972 for Bill Leader’s Trailer label. He established himself in the ’70s as one of England’s foremost topical songwriters, with a special emphasis on environmental subjects long before that concern was a major political focus in Europe’s politics.
There are few subjects that he didn’t address in his songs, including workers’ rights, fetal experimentation, a strong anti-abortion stance, and other matters usually left to the news pages, and part of the secret of his success was his ability to meld such serious repertory with a very visible smattering of overtly fun material. His unwillingness to compromise his sensibilities or his songs cut him off from access to the major record labels, a situation that seemed to suit Garbutt just fine — he became a “star” act by denying the media exposure, the trappings, or even the rudimentary image associated with stardom, and made albums that were impressive without being expensive to make.
After The Valley of Tees, Vin released a steady stream of albums, latterly on his own label, Home Roots, the most recent being Synthetic Hues in 2014. Two of his albums, When the Tide Turns (1989, re-released 1998) and The By-Pass Syndrome (1991) were produced by Alan Whetton of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, a dedicated fan. Several albums captured Vin in live performance, although accommodating his long introductions was always a challenge. In 2011, local film-maker Craig Hornby made an affectionate documentary, Teesside Troubadour, which played to packed houses in Middlesbrough’s Cineworld.
This recording is from famous Glenfarg Folk Feast 2015 a fantastic concert by a most excellent singer songwriter, a true gentleman and a wonderful performer
The second Concert is again from The Glenfarg Folk Feat – one of Scotland’s national treasures – Michael Mara (1952 – 23 Oct 2012)
Michael Marra fae Dundee attended Lawside Academy,leaving school at 15 and trying a variety of trades – electrician, baker and builder – before heading for the folk clubs of London. There he played in the band Hen’s Teeth with fellow Scottish songwriter Dougie MacLean, before forming the band Skeets Boliver with his brother Chris. Michael Marra played with Skeets Boliver in the mid-1970s, alongside drummer Brian McDermott, saxman Peter McGlone, Gus Foy, Stewart Ivins, and Chris Marra. Signed to Thunderbird Records at an inopportune time, when punk was gaining popularity, the band released two singles, “Streethouse Door” and “Moonlight in Jeopardy”, to critical success. They also featured in an edition of the BBC Everyman religious programme, “I Can’t See the Light.”
In September 2007 Marra released the CD Quintet, featuring five songs about five musicians – Peerie Willie Johnson, Peter McGlone, Thomas Fraser, Martin Carthy and Dr. John. In November 2007, he appeared in a new production of The Demon Barber at Perth Theatre in Scotland where he performed all his music live on stage. Marra also created the opera Nan Garland, which was performed at Dundee Rep in 2004. Three years later, in September 2010, the album Michael Marra, recorded live on tour in 2010 with Mr McFall’s Chamber, was released on Delphian Records.
Michael Marra performed original songs with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish National Orchestra, Concerto Caledonia, Mr McFall’s Chamber, and his own quintet. He sang duets with Patti Smith, Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson and Karine Polwart.
In 2003 he collaborated with Martyn Bennett for his final album Grit (Martyn Bennett album), contributing a spoken passage for the song “Liberation”. In an interview Michael stated, “When I first heard it, I thought I sounded like a minister, and that came as a surprise to me. But I think that’s what he was after to tell the truth”, later joking: “I might become a minister”.
His songs have been covered by a wide range of artists, including Sylvia Rae Tracey, Coope Boyes and Simpson, Alan Cumming, Leo Sayer and Rab Noakes. Marra’s live CD, Recorded Live on Tour with Mr McFall’s Chamber was released on Delphian Records in 2007. In 2012 he released Houseroom, a six-track collaboration CD with The Hazey Janes, on Tob Records.
A firm favourites at festivals and folk clubs – especially in Scotland – No one can ever forget his ironing board that he took on stage to support his keyboards! He has left his fantastic music behind him and always raises a chuckly when needed
My thanks to John Weatherby and Kris Korn from SoundSense for helping me in recording the gigs
And the Glenfarg Folk Feast and their volunteers for putting on a most excellent festival – Now in it 43 year