By way of introduction, when we made Dave Swarbrick our Life Time Achievement Award recipient this year, we knew he still had so much still to contribute to music in this country, we didn't realise how much.
Folkstock Arts Foundation, the new Hertfordshire based community interest company specifically set up to aid the musicians coming through on the current folk, acoustic and roots revival is thrilled to reveal that Folk composer, producer and world renowned fiddle virtuoso icon, Dave Swarbrick, has announced that he is happy to be their Patron.
Dave Swarbrick, or Swarb as he is affectionately known, has been credited with the heralding of the 'second folk revival' in 1968 when he started playing with Fairport Convention. His fiddle playing is regarded as being largely responsible for the then new sound and direction of Fairport Convention and he has been described by Ashley Hutchings as 'the most influential [British] fiddle player bar none' and his style has been copied or developed by almost every British, and many World folk violin players that have followed him.
Dave's input is usually credited with leading them to produce their seminal album Liege and Lief (1969) which initiated the electric folk movement. This, and his subsequent career, helped create greater interest in British traditional music and was highly influential within mainstream rock. After 1970 he emerged as Fairport Convention's leading figure and guided the band through a series of important albums until he left in 1979. Since then he has played in a series of smaller, acoustic units such as Whippersnapper and Lazarus and engaged in solo projects which have maintained a massive output of recordings, a significant profile and have made a major contribution to the interpretation of traditional British music.
It was as a session musician that Swarbrick was called in by Joe Boyd the manager of Fairport Convention, in 1969, originally to session with the band. Tracks worked on included Si Tu Dois Partir, which gained chart success, their celebrated cover of the Richard Thompson-penned track "Cajun Woman" and to balance this, Fairport had decided to play a traditional song 'A Sailor's Life'.The result was an eleven minute mini-epic that appeared on the 1969 album Unhalfbricking and which marked out a new direction for the band.
Subsequently, Swarbrick was asked to contribute to what became the group's most important album, (1969). His fiddle style was essential to the new sound and direction of the band, most marked on the medley of four jigs and reels that Swarbrick arranged for the album and which were to become an essential part of almost every subsequent Fairport performance. Swarbrick joined the band full-time, stimulated by performing traditional music in a rock context. His greater maturity, knowledge of folk song, reputation and personality meant that he soon emerged as the leading force in the band and continued to be so for the next decade, encouraging the band to bring in Dave Pegg. However, he was already beginning to suffer the hearing problems that would dog the rest of his career.
Despite being almost deaf and having being rather famously proclaimed dead in 1999, Dave is working as hard as ever. The highly complimentary obituary in the Daily Telegraph in 1999, about which Swarb quipped that he was reassured by the positive nature of the content and added that it wasn't the first time he had died in Coventry, caused a surge of publicity and the one of the national papers ran a middle page spread titled ' Dalai Lama prays for Swarb'. Evidence would indicate that this was so ! Dave continues to compose, perform and produce from his home studio in Coventry, working ceaselessly, capitalising on the ( sometimes frustrating!) wonders of modern technology, with a variety of musicians across the world. His strength, passion and vigour having returned after his double lung transplant 9 years ago, and he is now having a renaissance of activity.
Dave frequently performs solo, is technically unsigned, releasing under his own label and is famously independent. Swarb tours across the world and is currently booked for South African and Canada.
He also tours annually in the UK every Autumn with Martin Carthy. They are also performing on the Sunday of the Cambridge Folk Festival this year.
Swarbrick is proud of his work with Canadian reggae performer Jason Wilson and his band for whom he is working on an exciting modern Red Red Rose (Burns)/ No Woman, No Cry ( Bob Marley) arrangement and touring with later in the year.
Swarbrick's highly acclaimed album "Raison d'être" was released in July 2010. He has just completed this year a collection of his compositions recorded by Duncan Wood, entitled SWARBTRICKS, "a collection of new melodies" which is also out now.
Dave's unparalleled career has garnered a number of Awards :
In 2003, he was awarded a 'Gold Badge' by the English Folk and Dance Society and the 'Gold Badge of Merit' by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters.
In 2004 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC 2 Folk Awards
At the 2006 BBC 2 Folk Awards he shared an award with current and past Fairport Convention members when they received an award for their seminal album Liege & Lief which was voted 'Most Influential Folk Album of All Time' by Radio 2 listeners.
At the 2007 awards Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick won the 'Best Duo' Award.
At the 2012 Fatea Magazine awards Dave Swarbrick was awarded The Life Time Achievement Award.
In March 2013 Dave Swarbrick was inducted into the Coventry Music Hall of Fame.
" when Helen Meissner approached me to be Patron, I was struck by the energy and commitment she was freely offering to musicians in the genres which are dear to my heart. As the hands of time march on, I am increasingly aware of the new blood coming in to folk, roots and acoustic music and am very keen to support, in some small way, the activities which are planned for musicians involved with Folkstock Arts Foundation. It seems very organised and well thought through and I am excited to encourage the current resurgence of interest in all aspects of folk music. There is a raft of younger musicians coming forward, for which the Foundation is providing much needed support; providing the tools to help them market themselves more effectively and gain a greater audience. This is what most independent musicians need and the range of good gig opportunities, festivals, master classes and mentoring which the foundation provides are as vital as they are enjoyable. This is going to be fun."
We at Folkstock Arts Foundation feel Swarb is the perfect role model for our musicians collective. At 72, Dave Swarbrick is the living embodiment of dogged determination, prodigious output and has created a niche for himself as a highly influential world class musical talent, which continues to inspire millions across the globe.
Dave Swarbrick will not be attending Folkstock festival ( tickets go on sale 25th May via the website) this year due to prior commitments but there are some exciting plans being drawn up which involve Dave and Folkstock Arts Foundation musicians next year.
As we say on our website " A true artist is not one who is inspired, but who inspires others."
And in Dave we have struck gold.
Tickets go on sale for Folkstock Festival on 25th May
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