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Vin Garbutt

Born Vincent Paul Garbutt, 20 November 1947, South Bank, Middlesbrough in England (of English-Irish parentage), Vin abandoned a lengthy apprenticeship with ICI in Wilton to take up singing in Europe, flitting from Spain to Gibraltar and on to Morocco. While he did make a living from this musical enterprise, the busking troubadour thought it best to return to Blighty, where he performed (with guitar and trusty tin whistle) in small folk clubs.
Inking a deal with Bill Leader’s Trailer Records, his first solo outing was THE VALLEY OF TEES (1972) {*7}, an album with reference to a local river rather than his local golf club. Always one for confronting environmental issues, the album – like its live follow-up (complete with “Old Grey Whistle Test” play-on-words), THE YOUNG TIN WHISTLE PEST (1975) {*7}, melded a local Northern trad sound with that of his Celtic heritage; `The Chemical Worker’s Song’ (written by Ron Angel) was one such fusion. KING GOODEN (1976) {*7} was his last for the label before taking up with Topic Records.
Never shirking controversial and socially conscious subject material in his lyrics (abortion, unemployment and “the troubles” of Northern Ireland, etc.), GARBUTT continued to eschew the establishment with three further LPs, ESTON CALIFORNIA (1977) {*7}, TOSSIN’ A WOBBLER (1978) {*7} and LITTLE INNOCENTS (1983) {*6}, the latter a pro-Life-siding set that gave all his royalties to said charity.
After a one-man-Celtic-styled live album in 1985, SHY TOT POMMY {*7}, GARBUTT founded his own label, Home Roots, kicking off through WHEN THE TIDE TURNS (1989) {*7}, a transitional record boasting the talents of ex-AWB drummer Robbie McIntosh; more award-winning sets were to follow through THE BY-PASS SYNDROME (1991) {*7}, BANDALISED (1994) {*8}, PLUGGED! VIN GARBUTT LIVE (1996) {*8}, WORD OF MOUTH (1999) {*8} and PERSONA…GRATA (2005) {*7}; the latter coming after a worrying operation to sort a heart valve. With fans of the calibre of LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III, and with a name in high demand in all the right places (in every continent it seems), VIN GARBUTT is one of the most unassuming folk stars that have graced our “green” and pleasant land. Aged 66 and back on track (spurred on by a DVD film documentary “Teesside Troubadour”), his album CV was bolstered by another collection of Northern tales: SYNTHETIC HUES (2014) {*6}.
Sadly, after years of service to the folk community and a fresh tour lined up, Vin passed away on 6 June 2017.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Jun2017

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