Who Wrote Music And Lyrics For I.M Through With Love Currently Celebrating 37 Years Of Success Ful Anonymity – Vin Garbutt

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Currently Celebrating 37 Years Of Success Ful Anonymity – Vin Garbutt

Last night I went to see Vin Garbott at The Wise, Gateshead. It cost me the princely sum of £3.50! Not bad to see two acts (the support came in the form of Jez Lowe) in a beautiful place in my opinion. This was the third time I’ve seen Vin live – my first as a kid dragged along by my mum (I think she had a spare ticket or something) – and he never fails to impress.

The title of this blog is a line he came out with during this last show, and a great example of his between-song wit. This, unbeknownst to me, was his 60th birthday concert, so when he took the stage, he was greeted by most of the crowd singing happy birthday.

So, I hear most of you asking, who the hell is Vin Garbutt? Well, he’s a folk singer from Middlesbrough. Born in the South Bank (still Middlesbrough, not London!), he became a professional musician at 21 and has been moving away ever since. He tours the world every year selling out shows around the world…last night included.

But it seems most people have never heard his name. Unless they’re into folk music specifically…Vin is a big name, probably one of the biggest, in the British folk scene. He even won Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2001. And he’s a folkist with shaggy hair, a penny whistle; It’s trad folk (but not just trad songs…most of the songs were written by Mr. Garbutt himself). These are songs about the lives and tribulations of real people, dealing with the big issues out there, such as seeking asylum, working for pennies, nature (and its destruction), and coal and potash mining.

The lyrics are intelligent and thought-provoking, as well as humorous in places. My favorites on this occasion were from Land Of Three Rivers (“In the land of the three rivers I long to be/Where the Tyne, Wear and Tees meet the North’s Rolling Sea) and Punjabi Girl (“I never thought I’d fall in love with someone from another world/ until I met and fell in love with a dark Punjabi girl”).

Coming from my home town (which despite recently being voted the worst place in the UK for location, location, location, I’m very fond and nostalgic. It has its advantages – beautiful countryside and seaside towns nearby, friendly people. etc. But I digress… it not the intended subject of this blog post!) and sing about it with pride, I always find the lyrical ‘local’ references particularly poignant. The first of the words quoted above illustrates the pride people feel in this area…their area; The affinity for him really means something to people in the North East (despite what the lovely Kirsty Alsop might have to say). It is an area that is truly in our hearts.

Punjabi Girl I found really quite touching as, despite being lovely and warm people, the people of Middlesbrough are not people I would consider (obviously I am very generalising) to be particularly open minded in their cultural beliefs. This song, therefore, evoked in me the feeling of someone overcoming their past prejudices…unfortunately, in the song, their families were unable to do so, but love still reigned :o) I seriously struggled not to cry on several occasions during the performance.

I laughed too. As I said before, Vin is a very witty and kind person. The thing that made me laugh the most was:

“…my current CD. I’m one of the few artists who sell flavored CDs”

It obviously works best out loud because of the homophonic lyrics, but I’m sure you can imagine.

There was also a great cover of Bob Fortune’s song Teesbay, which conjures up an image of a city on the sea, made up of boats and ships…a city that is always on the move, but always alive with twinkling lights.

He’s an excellent live act and I’ll definitely go see him again in the future (and hope he sings my favorite song of his, If I Had A Son, which he didn’t on this occasion). However, maybe, as a friend I ran into saw, it wasn’t the best place for him. The Sage is absolutely stunning, but just doesn’t have the right folk club singing vibe… it feels too formal.

Try catching him and see what you think…I doubt you’ll come away unimpressed (or even without a CD in hand – I never thought! This time it was his last persona…Greta). And no excuses about where you live…this man has played everywhere!

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