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Gannin' to Blaydon Races! - The life and times of George Ridley (Book)

GanninDave Harker
BOOK - £8.99 (MWMBK101)   

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Few songs - or at least, few choruses - are as famous in North East England as Blaydon Races. It is one of few examples of regional culture that are known across Britain and beyond. Yet the song was not a great success in George Ridley's lifetime, and he died in 1864, aged 29.

Here, 150 years after he wrote the 'Tyneside Anthem', is George's story, and the odyssey of Cushie Butterfield and his other surviving songs.

Dave Harker is Secretary of the North East Shop Stewards' Network.


Pete Wood - English Dance & Song - 22/02/2013
There can be no doubt that if you asked any member of the public, here or abroad, to name a Geordie song, 'Blaydon Races' would be the first and 'Cushie Butterfield' the second, both written by George Ridley. Not a bad legacy, particularly because, if you asked the same question of any other provincial English city, you'd be lucky to get one. No wonder then the Geordie anthem's 150th was celebrated on Tyneside, and certainly by the musical fraternity. Here we have a book, a CD and a DVD, co-ordinated by Northumbria Anthology, an outfit set up by Brian and Helen Mawson with the aim of promoting north-east traditional music and song.

Dave Harker is without doubt the foremost scholar of Tyneside song, and this book, his latest effusion, shows him at his most forensic. He continues to amaze me by the depth of his research, and the sparkle of his text. He treats George Ridley's family background, upbringing and career with a care that nobody else could muster, and fills us with fascinating information. He especially explains how it took quite a number of years before the song became an anthem, sound recordings and its adoption by football crowds being significant in this.
Pete Wood - English Dance & Song - 22/02/2013