The Yetties and Mr O'Dalaigh, by Bonny Sartin

Kevin must have been worth his weight in gold to the Argo/Decca set up. We worked with him from 1970 until 1977 and he was always brim-full of ideas for new LPs with a slightly different twist, and he produced most of them on a shoestring budget. We used to take our sleeping bags to London and kip on his floor. There were no hotels for us in the early years, but in a way that suited us just fine because we would never have felt at home in them and staying with Kevin was much more interesting. His background was so very different from ours and between us we had a fund of stories that kept us laughing into the night over a glass of wine.

He produced 11 LPs with us, mainly in Decca studios but also bringing the outside recording unit down to Sherborne to record our album Up In Arms and to Yetminster for The Village Band. In 1971 we recorded Our Friends The Yetties in London. This went so well that we had a couple of hours in hand and Kevin, not one to waste good studio time, suggested we make an album called The World of Irish Dancing because there were many Irish jigs and reels etc, in our repertoire. Decca already had several folk-related LPs in their ‘World Of’ series but nothing from Ireland. A series of medleys were quickly worked out, we recruited the studio caretaker to play piano and, in next to no time, the tracks were on tape. As this was bound for the Irish market it was felt that having The Yetties on the title was not a good idea so ‘O’Dalaigh’s Ceili Band’ came into being! Mac took a photo of the Bristol Irish Dancers at Sidmouth Folk Festival for the LP sleeve and that was that. Job done. Decca must have made many thousands from this bit of quick thinking because it sold like hot cakes.

Kevin had the contacts when it came to pulling in musicians to enhance the arrangements of the songs. He would pick up the phone and book the string section from the London Symphony Orchestra (the gypsies as he called them). Another time he found a brilliant Spanish guitarist to back us on Costa del Dorset. It was all very friendly to start with, but gradually it dawned on our flamenco player that the song was not very complimentary about his beloved home country. Our wheeler and dealer had to do a lot of swift talking to keep him sweet enough to finish the performance but, needless to say, he succeeded!

Bonny Sartin
The Yetties