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The Yokels

"Wiltshire's Answer To The Wurzels"!

band | discography | gallery | links | acknowledgments

Who Are The Yokels?

The Yokels have been called "Wiltshire's answer to The Wurzels", and I guess that pretty much describes their style. A Scrumpy & Western band in their own right, their songs - all home-grown compositions - are about their home county of Wiltshire, just as Adge Cutler's were mainly about Somerset.

The band formed in 1976 when Geoff Paget (vocals) and Tom Mills (guitar), who were playing the club cabaret circuit, were spotted by record producer Joe Stead. He asked them if they would like to make a record, and asked if they had any songs. Geoff's total instrumental musical talent consisted of his one string bass, which was tied to the top of a broom handle at one end and attached to a tea chest at the other. He never did know the difference between a crotchet and a cow pat, but he did have some talent in lyric writing based on his own life experiences. Guitarist Tom was no songwriter - and he approached local musician Keith 'Keef' Burge who eventually managed to decipher Geoff's scrawl, and added some music to it.

The Yokels recorded eleven songs with Yokel Geoff and Yokel Tom accompanied on the album by Keith's band Four In The Bar and the album Yer We Be was born. The line-up on the album is Geoff Paget (vocals) and Tom Mills (guitar) with Keef Burge (electric piano, vocals), Bryan Bevan (bass, vocals), Peter Lamb (electric & acoustic guitars), Keith Bishop (drums), and Chris Stone (vocals). The album was produced by Joe, and released later that year on the Sweet Folk & Country label. Joe admits that to his knowledge, it was the only record they made. He added: "They were nice blokes - really cheery and even bought me a bottle of whisky which I very much appreciated!" And that seemed the end of The Yokels' story...

But no - in 2001, 25 years later, the band got back together at The Music Workshop Studio in Devizes, Wiltshire; it was a good excuse for a 25th anniversary booze up if nothing else. Keith Burge had been writing Yokel's music since 1976, and after finally removing his head from the bucket of straight-out-the-animal fresh steaming manure at his initiation ceremony, he was christened Yokel Keef and made the official third Yokel. The trio then re-recorded five of the songs from Yer We Be and released it as The Yokels Have Landed; with a single released the same time containing two of the re-recorded tracks.

Later the same year, a second single was released; this containing the first new Yokels songs recorded since the 70s - The Cows All Do The Line Dance backed with I Likes Being Stupid. The CD made in conjunction with the Bromham Girls' Line Dance Club, and the band claim there was a dance to go with it. Sadly this is before the days of YouTube, so we don't have any proof! According to the band's website Yokel Keef has also written a Yokels song for local brewery Wadworths.

And on Thursday 7th November 2002, quite by chance, Scrumpy & Western editor Zider Ed happened to turn the car radio on, when veteran DJ Johnnie Walker's guest Reg Presley of The Troggs mentioned that a Wiltshire band The Yokels had recorded a cover of his old 1966 hit With A Girl Like You, which Johnnie then obligingly played. The record was titled Marry Me, and was made in aid of the BBC Children In Need 2002 charity appeal and produced by BBC Radio Wiltshire presenter Graham Seaman. Zider Ed was so astounded at this piece of luck - not to mention laughing at the record - that he almost drove the car into a ditch!

Geoff and Tom has also been involved in a side-project. Rustic Tales From Wiltshire is made up of five Wiltshire men - Geoff, Tom, Frank Giles, Peter Amor and Jim Hughes - with strong local dialect and good memories. They got together after a suggestion by Peter Lamb of The Music Workshop Studio to make a recording of past experiences and anecdotes in the Wiltshire dialect. The reasoning being that they should be recorded before they are forgotten and to enable future generations to share the humour and dialect of the recent and not too recent past. Rustic Tales From Wiltshire vol 1 is over 60 minutes long with a sample clip on their MySpace page. In the first few months since release, the CD sold over 700 copies (far beyond anyone's expectations) and by Feb 2008 they had already raised over £2000 with all profits going to local charities.

The band continued to play ocassional gigs in Wiltshire, but sadly in December 2007 came the news that frontman Geoff Paget passed away; he will be missed by all. As a result the band has decided, with regret, to hang up their respective instruments - at least for the present time.

Rustic Tales From Wiltshire vol 2 was released in 2008 - but sadly without Geoff and Jim Hughes who also passed away at the end of 2007. And in October 2008 Keith and Tom released Marnin' Moonrakers, a book described as 'a survival guide to the linguistic jungle of the Wiltshire dialect' published by Countryside Books (ISBN number 9781846741197); available from shops across the UK as well as being available worldwide from online booksellers Amazon.

And 'another end of an another era' - on September 1st 2009, Tom Mills died suddenly from a heart attack - ironically only a few weeks after retiring just a few weeks ago in order to have some time to himself and his wife.

The Yokels

The Yokels (Left to right: Tom Mills, Keith Burge, Geoff Paget)

The Yokels

The Yokels (Left to right: Geoff Paget, Keith Burge, Tom Mills) in the studio with BBC Radio Wiltshire presenter Graham Seaman.

The Yokels

The lads at the BBC Radio Wiltshire Children In Need 2002 event

The Yokels

Keith Burge and Tom Mills promoting their book Marnin' Moonrakers

The Yokels' Discography

LP albums | CD singles | spoken word & books
Albums    

Sweet Folk & Country SFA 063

Reg Presley and The Yokels

Yer We Be

Side 1: A Couple Of Country Yokels / Get Thik Pint Down Albert / The Wiltshire County Show / This Marriage Lark / Country Music
Side 2: There's Nothing Like Country Smells / Let's All Get Our Fingers Out / Nellie Hayseed / Inflation / Haymaking / Jack Of All Trades

1976 (vinyl)

???

The Yokels Have Landed!

There's Nothing Like Country Smells / Nellie Hayseed / This Marriage Lark / Get Thik Pint Down Albert / A Couple Of Country Yokels

2001 (CD)
Singles    
Yokels CD1

There's Nothing Like Country Smells / Get Think Pint Down Albert

2001 (CD)
Yokels CD2

The Cows All Do The Line Dance / I Likes Being Stupid

CD made in conjunction with the Bromham Girls' Line Dance Club. Subtitled It's Moosic To Your Ears, the dance to go with this single was choreographed by Buttercup, Rosebud and Daisy.

2001 (CD)

Music Workshop YOK501

Marry Me / The Wiltshire County Show

Single produced in aid of the BBC Children In Need charity in 2002. Marry Me is a parody of The Troggs' 1966 no. 1 hit With A Girl Like You and features special guest The Troggs' singer and songwriter Reg Presley.

2002 (CD)
Spoken Word & Books

Rustic Tales From Wiltshire vol 1

Geoff and Tom's side-project from The Yokels; a spoken word Cd of Wiltshire humour and dialect.

 
 

Rustic Tales From Wiltshire vol 2

More spoken word Cd of Wiltshire humour and dialect; recorded after Geoff's death, but still featuring Tom.

2008

Countryside Books

Marnin' Moonrakers (Local Dialect) by Keith Burge and Tom Mills

Yokels Keef and Tom's local dialect book described both as 'a survival guide to the linguistic jungle of the Wiltshire dialect' and also as 'the essential handbook for visitors to Wiltshire'. It's not all about dialect of course - it's for locals and tourists alike, but it is a fun stocking filler type of book.

Buy it on

16 Oct 2008

The Yokels Links

Acknowledgements

Thanks to:
- Graham Seaman of BBC Radio Wiltshire for helping with information about The Yokels
- Tom Mills of The Yokels for updates on the band's latest records and activities and the pictures in the gallery
- Keef Burge of The Yokels for details about the band and their new website
- Joe Stead for his help and information about the 1976 Yokels' album
- Kevin Goodall for originally providing the information about the Yokels' 1976 album.

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