June 2016: DAVID CYRIL ERIC SWARBRICK (1941-2016)
It is with heavy heart we sing 'Farewell, Farewell' to our dear Swarb. We were so fortunate to have shared the stage as often as we did with this musical master. We were luckier still, to have called him friend. For those of you not familiar with Swarb's colossal career and matchless influence on modern folk music, here are two obituaries that were published shortly after his passing: The New York Times and The Guardian. A more recent obit was featured in Mojo Magazine of August 2016.
2016: Jason and Swarb have recorded a few songs for a new work entitled Kailyaird Tales. Several special guests including Dick Gaughan, Rob Van Sante and Alan Reid of The Battlefield Band have made contributions. In related news, Jason is honoured to have been asked to write Swarb's official biography: Now Be Thankful: The Lives of Dave Swarbrick. Jason will be joined by co-author Jill Swarbrick-Banks for the task. For those of you who don't know, Jill — apart from being Swarb's wife — is herself an exceptional English artist and has done years of vital research for this project.
2014: Award winning Scottish-Canadian reggae artist Jason Wilson and legendary English fiddler Dave Swarbrick have teamed up to produce a breathtaking mixture of folk and reggae for their new album entitled Lion Rampant (2014). Unchained from the purists' convention, the album surveys the history of those rebel musics that have traversed back and forth across the "Black Atlantic" for the past three centuries. The album includes both traditional and self-penned titles, as well as a few modern covers. Alongside a host of genre-stretching originals, we find a Morris set, some Scottish Trad, Richard Thompson's 'Why Must I Plead', Sandy Denny's 'John the Gun' and Alistair Hulett's wonderfully contentious 'Among Proddy Dogs and Papes'. The nineteenth-century lament 'War down a Monkland' (perhaps Jamaica's first "rebel song") is also present. We also find a provocative blending of Burns' 'My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose' with Marley's 'No Woman No Cry'; which has already been featured on BBC Radio Scotland and on CBC. Happily, the album also boasts a superb collection of special guests, including: guitar virtuoso Jerry Donahue; American sax master Pee Wee Ellis; the inimitable Peggy Seeger; Scotland's gorgeous Bevvy Sisters; and English folkicon Martin Carthy MBE.
The two men bridge surprisingly few degrees of separation: Wilson's cousin Michael Virtue was in UB40 with Ali and Robin Campbell; the sons of the seminal folk balladeer Ian Campbell. Swarbrick was in the Ian Campbell Folk Group in his pre-Fairport Convention days. Swarbrick performed on the murder ballad 'Matty Groves' on Wilson's last Juno-nominated and Canadian Reggae Music Award-winning double album The Peacemaker's Chauffeur (2008). Jason and his band returned the favour, by recording a reggae version of the 'Spanish Ladies Medley' for Swarbrick's latest critically acclaimed release entitled raison d'être (2010). Having located the intersections of various rebel musics of the past three hundred years, Wilson & Swarbrick - with help from friends and the fantastic Jason Wilson Band - invite you to their folky, jazzy, punky reggae party!
Please also visit Dave Swarbrick's website at www.folkicons.co.uk/swarb.htm.