The Old Swan Band

Old Swan started life in 1974 as ‘The Cotswold Liberation Front’ and members included Bernie Cherry, Robin Lister, Rod and Danny Stradling, Martin Brinsford, and the incredibly young Fraser sisters, Fi chaperoning the 14 year old Jo. It was one element of the new liberation movement for English music – a hint of a tidal reverse against the flood of English musicians who played Celtic music and ignored or were ignorant of the treasury of English tunes that existed not only in written form but also as a living tradition. Old Swan’s band style was deliberately slow in an effort to encourage dancers to dance and the band was criticised greatly by less tolerant members of the English Folk Dance and Song Society for ‘playing the wrong tunes for the dances, playing too slow, changing tunes, using melodeons instead of proper instruments like accordions and worst sin of all, using brass instruments’. A major sea change occurred in 1982 when Rod and Danny Stradling left the band. Considering them irreplaceable in their roles, the decision was made to go for an all fiddle line up which creates another unique sound – the one you have here delivered by founder member Fi, now joined by the formidable talents of Paul Burgess and Flos Headford, leaders in the field of English fiddling. John Adams joined the brass section after the demise of The New Victory Band, Richard Valentine moved off the piano stool in favour of Heather Horsley and Neil Gledhill was press-ganged into the band playing the rarely heard bass sax. Somewhere in the middle of these changes, a version of the band made an EP record (1983) and that was the last studio recording until this one. Old Swan now enters its thirtieth year, presenting here the 2004 version of its English Dance Music. We hope that the magic influence of those early Swan Band pioneers still shines through and that the playing of present members brings a tap to your foot and an inclination to dance.

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Appearances on other Wildgoose Albums

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