Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (mp3) (pdf)
Dave Swarbrick left this world on June 3, 2016 (a few hours before Muhammed Ali) and I wrote this tune in response later that same day. I've been listening to his music since around 1970, starting with Fairport Convention, then going back to those incredible records with Martin Carthy and on into his later work. I can't claim to have heard everything he ever recorded but I never heard anything from him that wasn't inspiring.
I was lucky to have seen him play in person twice in Bloomington, Indiana (I think, but maybe it was in Louisville), sometime in the late 70s-early 80s. Once with Martin Carthy and once with Simon Nicol. Both shows were brilliant. Recently I have been especially inspired by the collection of tunes he composed for Duncan Wood, recorded under the title Swarbtricks (2013).
I struggled with what to use for a title for this tune because I feel like his actual friends should have the right to use most of the titles I came up with: "Swarb" (I'm looking forward to that being a great tune) or "Swarbrick" or "Letter to Swarb" or "Swarb's Second Obit", etc. So, I came up with this title with an Iowa reference. It's a little ironic because the tune was actually written in Carrboro, NC, but Iowa was its intended home.
Anyway I hope you enjoy the tune. Take a little time if you can and listen to some of the real thing. There are plenty of recordings and videos to hear and watch. One of my favorites is the early recording Rags, Reels, and Airs, which also happens to feature lots of great mandolin playing.
The photo above is from a recent auction catalog where it was accompanied by this description:
An early 20th Century Gibson A1 Mandolin, previously owned by, toured, and recorded with Dave Swarbrick (Fairport Convention), purchased from him by the current owners late father, complete with strap, later fitted pick up (Headway - Needs pre amp) embossed strap and hard case featuring "Fairport" lettering and cloth cover. Email from "Swarb" to him in 2012, stating "If I play Mandolin with martin, fairport, anybody in fact its this one.....never recorded with any other instrument"