Fortyssimo

by The Old Swan Band

The Old Swan Band celebrate their 40th anniversary with this eclectic selection of tunes. Whether English, Irish, Scottish, French Canadian, Australian, traditional or composed, borrowed and/or adapted, they all end up with that distinctive Old Swan Band ‘stamp’. The musicians who make up this band also play in several other bands (a dozen or so to be imprecise) and tunes leap across the spaces between and re-seed themselves. Notes and names change, tempos and keys vary, but they all end up in the same place – on the dance floor. We hope you’ll enjoy listening to this music but our abiding wish is that you’ll roll back the carpet, get the right shoes on and shake a leg. That’s what legs are for.



Fi Fraser – Fiddle

Paul Burgess - Fiddle and Octave fiddle

Flos Headford – fiddle

Jo Freya - Saxes and Whistles

Neil Gledhill – Bass Sax

John Adams – Trombone

Martin Brinsford – Harmonica and Percussion

Heather Horsley – Piano Keyboard

1 Bonny Breast Knot / Getting Upstairs / Blue Eyed Stranger 
Three stalwarts of the English tradition. Bonny Breast Knot was collected by Maud Karpeles in Devon and Somerset. Getting Upstairs and Blue Eyed Stranger are both from the Headington Morris tradition, in Oxfordshire. 

2 La Ouellette / Parnell’s March 
La Ouellette was recorded by Famille Lajoie on Canadian RCA Victor in 1930. Parnell’s March came to us via Northumbrian fiddler Willy Taylor. It’s well known in Ireland as a slide (12/8), was published in a 1936 uilleann pipe tutor by Tadhg Crowley, and has possible pipe band connections. A version is to be found with Newfoundland fiddler Rufus Guinchard. 

3 Leeds Polka / Jenny Bell Polka 
The Leeds Polka was apparently collected by Leeds antiquarian Frank Kidson, but although it sounds like a typical mid-19thC polka, it appears in David Ashton & Chris Dyson's 'A First Collection of Yorkshire Dance Music'. In the foreword they say "the tunes in this book have been adapted from a collection dated 1752". This pre-dates the polka craze by 100 years. Not for the first time we’re confused. Jenny Bell - a popular tune from the north- east associated with pipers such as the Clough family and Jack Armstrong. 

4 Gypsy’s Hornpipe/Astley’s Hornpipe/Coleford Jig 
Gypsy’s Hornpipe is in the Hardy family manuscript in Dorset. Astley’s Hornpipe is in Northamptonshire poet John Clare’s manuscript. It’s named after Philip Astley who was an 18thC London showman who worked with horses and is sometimes credited with creating the modern circus. Coleford Jig is a tune recorded from Stephen Baldwin, a fiddler from the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border whose father played fiddle for Clifford's Mesne Morris Dancers. Stephen himself played for Bromsberrow Heath Morris Dancers and started his own set of dancers at Mitcheldean - possibly the only genuinely traditional Morris team of its type founded in the 20th century. For photos of Stephen see our sleeve notes for 'Gamesters, Pickpockets & Harlots'. 

5 Les Trois Puits/ Barbara Allen/The Green Ship 
Les Trois Puits ("Well, well, well") Written by Paul Burgess, this is named after a wonderful B&B in Congenies, Southern France, run by Frances and Caroline Brown. Barbara Allen started as a tune called "The Butchers of Bristol" from a North-West English manuscript, which was reconstructed and reworked by John Offord (of 'John of the Green the Cheshire Way' fame). So far, the only sighting of The Green Ship has been in the manuscript collection of Lancaster dancing master John Winder, whose book is dated 1789. Was it a local composition? It’s difficult to believe that such a good tune wouldn’t start to travel, so it may yet turn up elsewhere. 

6 Salford Lasses / Lady Compton’s Whim / Welsh Jigg 
Salford Lasses is to be found in the Manchester manuscript of a certain J. Townsend (1821) and appears in A Northern Lass:Traditional Dance Music of North West England published by Jamie Knowles. Lady Compton’s Whim and Welsh Jigg come from the manuscript book of the Northamptonshire poet John Clare. The latter shares elements with both the Playford tune 'An Old Man is a Bed full of Bones' and the Irish jig 'The Priest(Parson)in his Boots' 

7 Varsoviennes 
Herbert Smith’s / Sally Sloane’s / Rita Baker’s Herbert Smith was the last in a long line of family blacksmiths in the pretty Norfolk coastal village of Blakeney. His varsovienne was amongst the tunes recorded by folklorist Peter Kennedy in 1952. Around the same time, Australian folklorist John Meredith started recording around New South Wales where every musician had their own version of the varsovienne. Sally Sloane was recorded in Teralba in the late 1950s and Rita Baker two decades later in Gulgong. 

8 Whistling Rufus / Woodland Revels 
Whistling Rufus was written in 1899 by Kerry Mills (who also wrote 'Red Wing') and Woodland Revels derives from the 'Twinkling Star', the composition of Billy Whitlock (but not the American blackface performer of that name). Whitlock recorded it on xylophone as part of "Trio Nuovo" on Regal G7870 issued in December 1922 (thanks to Adrian Tuddenham for that information). 

9 The Queer Fella’s Shot-ese/ Hayward’s Schottische 
Queer-Fella’s came from fiddler Charlie Bachelor of Bingara, New South wales. He learned it from his greatest influence, Henry “Harry” Reeves who played for woolshed dances in the first three decades of the 20thC. Charlie enjoyed two brief revivals of interest in his music in the 1950s with The Merry Fiddlers and in the Horton River Band prior to his death in 1984. The late Jonathan Hayward of Much Wenlock showed his grandfather’s fiddle music books, found when restoring his farmhouse, to Flos who extracted and collated this slightly sleazy schottische. 

10 Not For Joe / Seamo’s Polka 
Not For Joe is an amalgam of several sections of English tunes, played by Scan Tester and several musicians along the English/Welsh border. The second tune is from the playing of Oscar Woods and is one he learned from Ernie Seaman and thus called it Seamo's Polka. 

11 The Rose Tree / Bottom of the Punch Bowl 
The Rose Tree is an archetypal tune used by Bampton Morris. It was written by Henry Shields, or is his adaptation of an Irish air given to him by John O'Keefe. Or neither. No-one knows. The Punchbowl (or The Bottom of the Punchbowl), published in 1743, was composed by James Oswald from Dunfermline, Scotland who died in Knebworth, England around the middle of the 18th century. Both of these versions come from one of our long standing favourite musicians, Jimmy Shand. 

12 Covent Garden Row / Hunting The Hare / The Hop Jig / Bishop of Chester’s Jig 
Covent Garden Row is from an unidentified manuscript in the collection at Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire which we got from Charles Menteith who, with Paul, wrote and published 'The Coleford Jig' a collection of the traditional dance tunes of Gloucestershire. Chicago’s Chief of Police Francis O’Neil included Hunting The Hare in his 1907 collection of Irish music. Flos found The Hop Jig in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. The Bishop of Chester’s Jig was included in the 7th edition of Playford’s Dancing Master in 1786. In English sessions it’s collected an extra beat in each part, thanks to a misreading of the music by Chris Coe many years ago. 

13 Alexandra Park / President Garfield 
This tune comes from Kerr’s Fourth Collection of Merry Melodies, published by James S Kerr in Glasgow in (or soon after) 1879. As there were several Alexandra Parks (London, Oldham & Manchester to name just three) the actual origin of the name is anybody’s guess. Kerr’s Second Collection (c1882) is the source for President Garfield’s Hornpipe. Garfield was born into poverty in Ohio and rose through the political ranks to the dizzy heights of President, only to be assassinated in 1881 after serving only 3 months. In Ryan’s Mammoth Collection the tune is credited to a Harry Carleton, about whom nothing is known. 

14 Kelso Fiddle & Accordion Club / March of St Timothy 
One of many fine tunes written by Bob Liddle, button accordionist, piper with both Kelso and Coldstream pipe bands and habituee of Kelso Folk Club. It came to us via border musicians Willy Taylor, Joe Hutton and Will Atkinson. Written by Michigan hammer dulcimer player Judi Morningstar, March of St Timothy has lodged itself in the English repertoire. As with all good tunes that go travelling, the notes are slowly ‘marching away’ from the original but hopefully we’re near enough. 
Bonny Breast Knot / Getting Upstairs / Blue Eyed Stranger
Three stalwarts of the English tradition. Bonny Breast Knot was collected by Maud Karpeles in Devon and Somerset. Getting Upstairs and Blue Eyed Stranger are both from the Headington Morris tradition
La Ouellette / Parnell’s March
La Ouellette was recorded by Famille Lajoie on Canadian RCA Victor in 1930. Parnell’s March came to us via Northumbrian fiddler Willy Taylor. It’s well known in Ireland as a slide (12/8)
Sample not available
Leeds Polka / Jenny Bell Polka
The Leeds Polka was apparently collected by Leeds antiquarian Frank Kidson
Gypsy’s Hornpipe/Astley’s Hornpipe/Coleford Jig
Gypsy’s Hornpipe is in the Hardy family manuscript in Dorset. Astley’s Hornpipe is in Northamptonshire poet John Clare’s manuscript. It’s named after Philip Astley who was an 18thC London showman who worked with horses and is sometimes credited with creating the modern circus. Coleford Jig is a tune recorded from Stephen Baldwin
Sample not available
Les Trois Puits/ Barbara Allen/The Green Ship
Les Trois Puits ("Well, well, well") Written by Paul Burgess
Sample not available
Salford Lasses / Lady Compton’s Whim / Welsh Jigg
Salford Lasses is to be found in the Manchester manuscript of a certain J. Townsend (1821) and appears in A Northern Lass:Traditional Dance Music of North West England published by Jamie Knowles. Lady Compton’s Whim and Welsh Jigg come from the manuscript book of the Northamptonshire poet John Clare. The latter shares elements with both the Playford tune 'An Old Man is a Bed full of Bones' and the Irish jig 'The Priest(Parson)in his Boots'
Sample not available
Varsoviennes
Herbert Smith’s / Sally Sloane’s / Rita Baker’s Herbert Smith was the last in a long line of family blacksmiths in the pretty Norfolk coastal village of Blakeney. His varsovienne was amongst the tunes recorded by folklorist Peter Kennedy in 1952. Around the same time
Whistling Rufus / Woodland Revels
Whistling Rufus was written in 1899 by Kerry Mills (who also wrote 'Red Wing') and Woodland Revels derives from the 'Twinkling Star'
Sample not available
The Queer Fella’s Shot-ese/ Hayward’s Schottische
Queer-Fella’s came from fiddler Charlie Bachelor of Bingara
Sample not available
Not For Joe / Seamo’s Polka
Not For Joe is an amalgam of several sections of English tunes
Sample not available
The Rose Tree / Bottom of the Punch Bowl
The Rose Tree is an archetypal tune used by Bampton Morris. It was written by Henry Shields
Sample not available
Covent Garden Row / Hunting The Hare / The Hop Jig / Bishop of Chester’s Jig
Covent Garden Row is from an unidentified manuscript in the collection at Snowshill Manor
Alexandra Park / President Garfield
This tune comes from Kerr’s Fourth Collection of Merry Melodies
Sample not available
Kelso Fiddle & Accordion Club / March of St Timothy
One of many fine tunes written by Bob Liddle
Sample not available

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

It's Happy 40th Anniversary to the Old Swan Band who celebrate their longevity with this fine collection of tunes from the United Kingdom and around the world.

The band has undergone a small number of changes over the years but the present line up comprises of original members Martin Brinsford (harmonica and percussion), Paul Burgess (fiddle), Fi Fraser (fiddle), Jo Freya (saxophones and whistles) who are joined by Johnny Adams (trombone), Neil Gledhill (bass saxophone), Flos Headford (fiddle) and Heather Horsley (keyboard). With a line up like that you can't go wrong really can you?!

This is not just 'dance music' but cleverly thought out arrangements of traditional or composed tunes that makes it a very easy to listen to album.

There are lots of tunes I recognised like Getting Upstairs (let's see those Morris dancer's capers!), Leeds Polka, Whistling Rufous and The Rose Tree to mention but a few.

Less familiar tunes blended along seamlessly too especially in the three tune set Salford Lasses, Lady Compton's Whim (I wonder what that was? - better not to go down that route!) and Welsh Jigg. Les Trois Puits (or well, well, well!) composed by Paul Burgess had a recognisable French feel to it quickly followed by the very English, and a north-western version of, Barbara Allen and Lancaster's John Winder's The Green Ship. Among the many other tunes contained in the fourteen tracks there are two Schottisches which lilt nicely along called The Queer Fella's Shot-ese and Hayward's Schottische although the first of these, and the clue is in the title, is Australian!

I'm often asked, usually by non-folkies, 'how on earth do you remember all the words of your songs?' to which I could re-phrase in this context 'how on earth do they remember all those notes and in the right order?!!'

This is an album that will jolly you along with whatever you are doing - it got me happily driving from Penzance to Bideford folk clubs on my recent tour in the South-west. Everybody dance! - but not while you're driving, of course.

Folk News Kernow

CWR

With a stamp and a swing comes the Old Swan in. Led by three fiddles and a piano, the eight piece Swan forces us to shake a leg; this is what legs are for! With an amazing 35 tunes this CD has to be a tune cd bargain. Very nearly "boisterous", file under "Folk Rock Dance", and play loud.

fRoots

Colin Irwin

FORTYssimo�see what they did there? A lot can happen in 40 years. Walls can fall.

The same old wars can keep getting fought. Scotland can almost get independence.

And English country dance music can make a comeback. Big time. They can't be held

responsible for the first three but much of the latter is involves a group called the Cotswold Liberation Front who, taking on the mantle of English music champions heroically fighting off the dominance of the all-conquering, all-powerful Celtic groups, evolved into the Old Swan Band.

And here they are, all these years later celebrating the big Four-O with a big, fat chunky selection of classic, wildly infectious dance tunes proving they've lost nothing in the way of verve, pizzazz, sense of mischief and joy of playing. The line-up has remained surprisingly constant in that time, the distinctive brass backbone supplied by John Adams on trombone, with Neil Gledhill and Jo Freya on sax, Jo's sister Fi Fraser joining Paul Burgess and Flos Headford in the flowing front line of triple fiddles, while the key rhythmic charge is guided along by Heather Horsley's piano and Martin Brinsford's deliciously engaging shuffling percussion.

All, of course, also feature in numerous other bands but there's such an easy familiarity about the way they unite on this, their first album since Swan For The Money three years ago, it feels like stumbling on a favourite pair of slippers, all warm and toasty from the fireside, and finding they still fit perfectly. Except you can't dance in slippers and this is very much an orgy of toe-tapping dance tunes.  Hornpipes from Dorset, Northumbrian marches, stirring morris tunes, Playford jigs, something from the Jimmy Shand repertoire, a rather fine Paul Burgess original tune and a wonderfully impudent performance of that great old grandstander Whistling Rufus, with the brass section building up an impressive head of steam.

Old Swan Band are an English folk music institution and this delightful collection shows exactly why. More power to their ankles.

Le Canard Belgium

40�me anniversaire de ce groupe qui en 1974 r�volutionna la sc�ne folk anglaise en introduisant une

batterie et un saxophone. C'est une institution, qui cependant n'a rien enregsitr� entre 1983 et

2004. Centr� sur la musique � danser, il est form� d'un nombre variable de musiciens qui font aussi partie d'autres groupes. Quatre musiciens sont pr�sents depuis le d�but : les soeurs Fi Fraser (violon) et Jo Freya (sax, whistles); Paul Burgess (violons) et Martin Brinsford (percussions). Avec Flos Headford (violon), Neil Gledhill (sax basse), Heather Hosrley (claviers) et John Adams (trombone), ils livrent une interpr�tation des plus classique, sans surprise donc, de traditionnels anglais, irlandais, �cossais, qu�b�cois, australiens ainsi que de quelques compositions. Un cd fait pour danser, et qui vous pousse effectivement sur la piste

EDS

Andy Turner

In case you hadn't gathered from its title, this CD celebrates forty years of The Old Swan Band. A driving force in the English country music revival of the 1970s, their first LP No Reels � one of the few albums to deserve the epithet 'seminal' � was a statement of the value of playing tunes from English country musicians, in a style heavily influenced by listening to traditional practitioners. And the tunes were played, famously, slowly. By the time I first saw the band in the early eighties, banjo had been replaced by piano, while Martin Brinsford's tambourine had become part of something approaching a full drum kit. And I'm pretty sure the tempo had got faster. A few years later, the band became a melodeon-free zone, with fiddles leading the attack, comple mented by a growing, and at times quite funky, horn section. That's what you get here.

Anyone who has seen the band over the last 25 years or so will know exactly what to expect, and won't be disappointed.  From the first notes of the 'Bonny Breastknots' set � a set which appeared back in 1977 on No Reels, but was slower in those days � my foot started to tap, and I just found myself grinning. It's uplifting stuff: a mixture of well-known tunes and some fabulous new ones to add to the communal repertoire. I'll make special mention of the minor key hornpipe set (which starts with Paul Burgess' 'Les Troits Puits'), as well as 'Alexandra Park' and the final tune, 'March of St. Timothy'. Despite championing English music, the Swan Band have never been Little Englanders (there was at least one Irish tune on No Reels), and some of the best tunes here come from Australian and north American sources. Their Englishness is more about style � and what style they have. A fine record from a national institution.

Folk Monthly

Pete Willow

Here's a lively and accomplished set of tunes to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the mainstay band in the English County Dance scene. They draw on some interesting sources   not just English but Irish, Scottish, French Canadian, Australian and some original compositions and arrangements for good measure.

Originally the Cotswold Liberation front, The Old Swan Band emerged to challenge the folk orthodoxy of the mid 1970s through the radical introduction of percussion and sax to the repertoire. There was a hiatus in the band's history with no recordings between 1983 and 2004 but the current line up of fiddles, saxes, trombone, harmonica, piano and percussion manages to maintain a secure balance of deference to traditional sources and showmanship and flair that appeals to contemporary audiences.

The arrangements are tight and applied with skill, achieving an ideal basis for an enjoyable dance event without the distraction of musical ego trips or solo improvisation. The solitude of my car was not the best environment for listening to this   this is definitely music for sharing, dancing and socialising albeit in very polite company.

Congratulations to the band for its longevity and good to see a milestone album that does not fall back on the old material but introduces several tunes that have never been recorded before.

The Living Tradition

Gordon Potter

Among reviewers, and folkies in general, of (ahem) a certain age, there seem to have been an awful lot of fortieth anniversaries recently! Without fail, on each of these occasions, people gather around saying how they can't think where the time has gone, yadda, yadda. With the best of these recollections, however, there can be a feeling that the celebrants have just always been there   a sure sign of acceptance into the great family of our music.

Newer readers may need reminding of the emergence of the Old Swan Band from the original Cotswold Liberation Front but many will be familiar with the current line up of John Adams, trombone; Martin Brinsford, harmonica and percussion; Paul Burgess, fiddle; Fi Fraser, fiddle; Jo Freya, saxophones and whistles; Neil Gledhill, bass saxophone; Flos Headford, fiddle; and Heather Horsley, keyboard. All of the above play in a variety of other bands, so the cross fertilisation of tunes and ideas for arrangements is immense and put here to brilliant use in this collection of dance music which threatens to slap you if you try to opt out of dancing along to it.

The tunes are drawn from a variety of Morris traditions, English, Scottish and Irish manuscript collections, Quebec, Jimmy Shand and modern compositions, so no question about the range of influences, which are drawn on to form an essentially English style of playing, with a lightness of touch indicating musicians who instinctively understand each others' strengths.

A superb tribute to their significant anniversary   listen to it, dance to it and enjoy it!

Mardles

Maggie Moore

Wow! Oh absolute Joy! (Have you guessed yet that I really like this CD??)

I was a fan of The Old Swan Band as soon as they began making LPs. When they visited the nearby village of Mendlesham for an English Country Music Weekend (1984?) I was reminded of how good they were.

Dancing to their band has always required the dancer to do a bit of actual dancing, i.e. stepping, skipping, hopping etc. and therefore get a bit more exercise than the perhaps more common walking that's quite prevalent at a lot of clubs and ceilidhs. The difference is how fast and with what kind of emphasis the band plays. Old Swan 'gloriously' (to my mind) plays at the same good old slower speed as they did when they started. Maybe that's because they were rooted in the Cotswold Morris tradition, where the steps are all important and require the musicians to adapt to the particular people dancing, and also the surface they're dancing on. However, bands like Old Swan (and thankfully there are quite a few in East Anglia) not only refrain from going at break neck speed, thereby allowing the tune to really shine, but also play with such vigour and energy that their music gives dancers a huge boost and loads of oomph to fling themselves around the floor to.

Now then... back to the actual CD in question! Listening to the start of Track 1   Devon Bonny Breastknot/Getting Upstairs/Blue Eyed Stranger, I was gripped with the band's usual previously mentioned 'Ooomph', and then suddenly got an attack of "Where is Martin Brinsford's mouth organ playing?". Then in he came with his brilliantly vibrant and unique addition to the second tune in this set... I'd recognise him anywhere.

I have to admit to really missing the wonderful melodeon playing of Rod Stradling, who was one of the founder members, and still very successfully runs the site for "Musical Traditions" at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/ However... the line up on this album is fabulous: Paul Burgess on fiddle, the aforementioned Martin Brinsford on percussion as well as mouth organ, Fi and Jo the Fraser sisters, on fiddle, saxophone, clarinet and whistles between them. (It's worth mentioning that Jo was only 13 when she joined the band all those years ago!) Also playing are John Adams on trombone, Neil Gledhill on bass saxophone, Flos Headford on fiddle and Heather Horsley on keyboard.

In case the title of the CD hasn't given it away   or indeed if you are new to this band   they are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Doug Bailey of WildGoose Records sums it up by saying that their tunes have that "distinctive Old Swan Band stamp", and those of you who know the band will, I'm sure, identify with that description. For those of you (possibly younger peeps) who haven't a clue what I'm talking about, then please please buy the CD and enjoy letting it soak into your musical pores.

Shire Folk

Barry Goodman

It's forty years since the Old Swan Band was formed, and this CD celebrates the continued existence of a band that has been part of the bedrock of English Ceilidh music for four decades. As with their other recent CDs, this collection contains both familiar and unusual tunes, reflecting the band's love of the tradition and constant unearthing of 'new' material from old manuscripts.

The tunes are played with the swing and drive that dancers have come to expect from the 'Swans; featuring the three fiddle combination of Fi Fraser, Flos Headford and Paul Burgess, Heather Horsley's rock solid piano, the rocking brass section of Jo Freya, Neil Gledhill and John Adams, and the wonderfully rhythmic and varied percussion of Martin Brinsford (not to mention his fine harmonica playing!).

Among the familiar tunes are 'Devon Bonny Breastknot; 'Gypsy's Hornpipe; 'Coleford Jig' and 'The Bishop of Chester's Jig: More unusual offerings include the gorgeous 'Covent Garden Row; a couple of Australian Varsoviennes' and the 'slightly sleazy' 'Haywood's Schottische; discovered by Flos Headford in Much Wenlock, Shropshire.

Informative, concise sleeve notes, coupled with a terrific cover design by Katie Coope and superb production from Doug Bailey complete the package. Wonderful music for the feet, but for the ears as well this is the Old Swan Band at their very best.

Around Kent Folk

Bob and Kathy Drage

The Old Swan Band celebrate their 40th anniversary with this eclectic selection of tunes many of which the band has never recorded before. Whether English, Irish, Scottish, French, Canadian, Australian, traditional or composed, borrowed and/or adapted, they all end up with that gorgeous distinctive Swan 'stamp'. They bring a punchiness to their repertoire which is charmingly infectious. From 'Devon Bonny Breastknot', 'La Quellette', 'Leeds Polka', 'Gypsies Hornpipe', 'Barbara Allen' (which started life as a tune The Butchers of Bristol) to 'Salford Lasses', 'Herbert Smiths', Varsovienne', 'The Queer Fellas Shotese', 'Covent Garden Row', 'Rose Tree' and 'President Garfield'. This is good listening music as well as dance music. The sleeve notes are fascinating and a good background resource. The bands abiding wish is that you'll roll back the carpet, get the right shoes on and shake a leg   that's what legs are for. May they play on for many more years   another 40 perhaps.