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GORDON TYRRALL - Around The Blooming Heather   

GORDON TYRRALL - Around The Blooming Heather  
Gaho Publishing ISBN: 9781527233249 

Gordon’s name is probably familiar to you – as singer, guitarist, flautist, composer and member of several well-known acoustic groups, he’s been part of the folk scene for over four decades. In this enjoyably readable volume, he displays further skills – as a raconteur/writer and illustrator.

For the past 35 years, Gordon has been a fixture at Whitby Festival, from playing punter to headlining guest. His involvement has at some stage included every dimension of the festival – even the Taffy Thomas spectaculars and dance sessions. So here we have (as the subtitle tells us) A Personal Memoir Of Whitby Folk Week, Including Scenic Diversions. These diversions – more than just the delightful pen sketches and portraits which appear on the majority of pages – but detours into the other aspects of Gordon’s life, both personal and professional. There are stories about Boyle Tyrrall Boyle; leading workshops; his passion for rock climbing; a near drowning; a wedding; and personal tragedy.

The book is densely peopled with characters ranging from the internationally famous to the strikingly unfamiliar. Most appear in words and images, often sketched in performance; sometimes very rapidly when Robin Hood’s Bay sessions allow only one song. You encounter the famous names – Carthy, Bellamy, Hall and so on – but also floorsingers, enthused dancers, source singers and many of Gordon’s friends. His word portraits are witty, well-written, perceptive and occasionally slightly barbed – a description which suits the book as a whole.

Most of all, though, this is a fascinating personal account of Whitby, from the fringe events “for the non-ticket buying public” to the main stage sell-out events, from the Sleights downhill delays on the way there to the presentation of the Willie Scott ceremonial stick.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.