3rd June 2016
Words seem inadequate. Thank you for everything you’ve generously given to our foundation and the support for the artists associated with it and the label. RIP Dave Swarbrick.
To read the Obituary in the Telegraph, please click here
We are honoured to have Dave Swarbrick and Peggy Seeger as our Patrons and are delighted that they have got involved with so many of our initiatives and truly supported the next wave of folk and acoustic artists with us.
“Helen has the passion,vision and commitment to make a real difference to the careers of many young performers. In my younger days the then scene was blessed with the like of Joe Boyd, Helen has picked up where Joe left off. I’m proud to be patron of Folkstock arts” Dave Swarbrick
We were so pleased when he got a mention in the Gold Star award we were amazed to receive from Instrumental.
Helen Meissner is one of those quietly busy people who gets things done. She is the founder of The Folkstock Arts Foundation and is central to a number of musical initiatives whose ambitions seem to stretch way beyond resources and expectations. The main plank of Folkstock is the recording, mentoring and promotion of emergent folk talent from England and there is no shortage of that at the moment. On this site I’ve managed to write about Folkstock artist Zoe Wren whose Pandora’s Box EP is a good example of the quality that is there to match the quantity of reinvigorated English roots music. That energy is there to be shared according to Meissner’s philosophy and the Folkstock promoted Song Sisters tour featuring Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle combined performance with singing workshops. There’s a lot of this about at the moment, but it is an integral part of the Folkstock agenda that recognizes that community engagement is necessary in order to keep cultural enterprise relevant.
Meissner’s vision is important I think, because it recognizes the need for creative organisations that do not merely replace arts subsidy models or record label investment, neither of which provide platforms for self-perpetuating musical careers. Folkstock also enjoys the patronage of Mr David Swarbrick, a man whose long experience of the music industry can contribute usefully to the mentoring of young performers. It’s something of a coup for Folkstock not only because his reputation naturally precedes him, but because a fledgling third sector organization needs that level of credibility perhaps even more than it needs funding. So stand up Helen Meissner. I’ll bet it’s not the first time you’ve been awarded a gold star, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Initially Swarb played on four tracks as part of the Passing the Baton CD ( more information if you scroll down)
Then in April and May 2014 he enabled 22 artists to support him at various gigs during his 17 date tour (which he kindly asked us to organise and promote for him)
In November of this year (2014) he was one of the folk icons performing on the Armistice Pals charity single which was the brain child of Damian Liptrot, manager of Merry Hell. The version of Pete Seegers’ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? was performed by Peggy Seeger and over 100 other voices, was released on Folkstock Records and was played on BBC Radio 2 on the Good Morning Sunday show as well as the Folk show. In addition to many local, independent and BBC Radio stations around the world.
Here are some bits and pieces about the various projects, starting with the most recent one, the Armistice Pals charity single.
Super coverage in the R2 Magazine
INFORMATION ABOUT THE TOUR INCLUDING VIDEOS FROM THE SUPPORTING ACTS AS WELL AS SWARB HIMSELF
Welcome to the section about the Dave Swarbrick tour, which we booked, promoted and organised ! all the videos and press are here, in order, so the videos which relate to certain dates are generally next to the poster or press about the date, so do scroll down to find the venue and videos you are interested in. And below this, you can find out about Passing the Baton, the EP in which Swarb accompanied four lucky artists on their songs.
“What a shame it will soon be over, I haven’t enjoyed a tour so much for years. Made many new friends and heard a lot of new music made by talented and lovely singers and players. Spurred me on to want to keep going on and on with this merry go round of a life.” Dave Swarbrick
“Simply love this latest interview with Swarb by Nick Dent- Robinson in Penny Black Music. Here’s a snippet : Funny, blunt yet charming, Dave “Swarb” Swarbrick is one of the most engaging folk musicians of his time. At 73 he may creak and croak a bit from time to time, but he shows no sign of fading away. Yet fifteen years ago Swarb’s obituary appeared in ‘The Daily Telegraph’. This was a big shock to his fans and quite a surprise to Swarb himself!
The former Fairport Convention fiddler and folk-rock co-founder was recovering from a chest infection in hospital in Coventry – “That’s not the only time I’ve died in Coventry,” Swarb laughs – when he read the premature obituary. “It took my breath away. Though after all my chest ailments that didn’t need much. At the time I did feel quite ill, so they weren’t that far out. But I got far more attention from dying than I ever did from playing, and I don’t know if I’d ever have expected to get an obit at all really. It was so complimentary though. I thought it was great. It didn’t faze me. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I made photocopies and started signing them ‘RIP Dave Swarbrick’ and selling them at gigs for £1 – after all how often do you get a chance to buy a signed obituary?
Click here to read the full interview Click here to read the full interview
5th April, Caerphilly Workmen’s Hall, Wales
6th April, Foundry Folk, Stamford
10th April, The Globe, Glossop
11th April, Cambridge Folk Club
12th April, The Village Hall Great Massingham
13th The MAC, Maldon
17th April, Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn
19th April, Wallingford’s Corn Exchange
24th April, South Street Arts, Reading
25th April, The Musician, Leicester
26th April, Assembly Rooms, Derby ( cancelled due to Fire )
2nd May, Bridport’s Electric Palace
3rd May, Sturminster Newton’s Exchange
4th May, Bristol’s Colston Hall
15th May, Key Theatre, Peterborough
16th May, The Limelight, Aylesbury ( Gawkey supporting)
24th May, Public Halls, Harpenden.
Swarb ‘Passing the Baton’ tour ends on a high note Swarb ‘Passing the Baton’ tour ends on a high note
When Dave Swarbrick asked Helen Meissner to put on a tour for him, her first reaction was to suggest he found someone more experienced to undertake the task “ I knew nothing about touring and was planning my first festival Folkstock, which I also knew nothing about ! We had made contact on social media and clicked. Eventually I took on the challenge and we are now fast approaching the last two dates on the 17 date tour which started on 5th April, Swarb’s 73rd birthday”.
One of the unusual elements of the tour was that Swarb wanted to showcase fresh new talent rather than stick to tried and tested names. “He could have had anyone supporting him, but he wanted to share the spotlight with people who were almost quaking at the thought of meeting him !” “We also decided to invite singer songwriters to submit tracks which Swarb would embellish with a flourish or two of his fiddle. This project, Passing the Baton, was a great success and the resultant 4 track EP sells well at gigs and online via our Folkstock bandcamp. One of the perks of being selected – other than having Swarb guest at no cost on your recording which the artists are free to release on their subsequent recordings – was that they could perform their track live with Swarb on a date from the tour”.
The two remaining dates at Peterborough’s Key Theatre on 15th May and Harpenden’s Public Halls on 24th May have Kelly Oliver (fresh from her visit to record a session and interview at Bob Harris’s WBBC broadcasting company on Friday) and John Farndon a singer who has recently started performing at his own Cauldron events in North London, guesting with Swarb ! John started his ‘mixed media’ Cauldon events at his local pub in north London last year which turned out to be a popular blend of poetry, music and soul enriching culture. “‘Passing the Baton’ is a brilliant, groundbreaking initiative, so it’s such a thrill to have my song selected for it – and better still to have the legendary Dave Swarbrick drop in a beautiful violin line so richly unique it just couldn’t be anyone else. Heartfelt thanks to both Dave and to Helen Meissner’s wonderful Folkstock organization” John Farndon
Swarb requested that his tour support were an act who were working closely with Helen’s Folkstock Arts Foundation. Said the Maiden are an all girl harmony trio who’s piece de resistance is their acapella traditional arrangements. The Herts based group, who were in the finals of the Isambard Folk Award, recently had the gig of their life opening for famous band Clannad (winners of the lifetime achievement award at the recent BBC Folk Awards). They were understandably thrilled to be asked to join Swarb on tour.
The girls so impressed Swarb, that he asked Hannah, Jess and Kathy to learn The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood which he performs with them during his set each evening. Swarb says that “it’s the best version I’ve ever heard”, and Said the Maiden also do a popular version of Crazy Man Michael in their set with a “chorus to make an angel envious” according to a reviewer on the tour. Gareth Calway from the Eastern Daily Press goes on to remark “The distinct individual voices are subtly matched and, in between spellbinding harmonies, they inject the folk tradition with girlish laughter”.
The evening itself is a slight departure from a standard concert too. Dave himself has been getting rave reviews for his banter on stage, as this is an opportunity for the audience to ask Swarb questions about his life, and he intertwines the answers into often hilarious shaggy dog stories, which suggest that if the fiddling career hadn’t worked out, Plan B might have been a stand up comedian.
The final distinguishing feature of this tour is that an act with links to the local area is given the chance to open the show. Ninebarrow, Sunjay Brayne, little Rach, Catrin O’Neill, Lazibyrd, Kim Lowings, Tilly Dalglish, Sam Kelly Trio, Kara J Richards, John Jones, Reg Meuross, Jess Vincent, Fay Brotherhood, and Natalie Lake are among those who have graced the stage so far. Peterborough’s Key Theatre has a talented singer songwriter, Alice Macy showcasing and Harpenden has invited ‘local’ Russian folk singer Daria Kulesh, who is a tireless supporter of all things folk from her home in Kings Langley, to perform her charity single ( in aid of DebRA) Butterflies in addition to Kelly Oliver, who is also performing a few tracks in on her own in the first half. Swarb is being joined by polar explorer/ celebrated guitarist Jake Wilson at the Harpenden gig, having accompanied on a few of the dates so far.
“Almost at the end of the tour – it’s been such an enriching experience. All the acts have watched each other, including Swarb who sits in the audience, and the atmosphere back stage has been so supportive. Feel almost sad that it is ending! Who knows where the time goes?”
Listen to the EP Listen to the EP
http://norwichblog.com/2014/04/14/folkspot-radio-presents-an-evening-with-swarb-great-massingham-12-april-2014″>Norwich Blog review of Great Massingham date http://norwichblog.com/2014/04/14/folkspot-radio-presents-an-evening-with-swarb-great-massingham-12-april-2014″>Norwich Blog review of Great Massingham date
Dates and Venues for the tour – click here and then choose the Gigs tab on the left panel Dates and Venues for the tour – click here and then choose the Gigs tab on the left panel
Local Secrets review of Cambridge date Local Secrets review of Cambridge date
When I was asked to choose one act from an audition involving14 performances to open ahead of Said the Maiden for the Great Massingham Village Hall gig, I had no idea what a difficult job it was going to be.
Big thanks must go to the efforts of Jane Knights and Brian from Folkspot Radio, who have worked hard to enable this to be the first sold out date on the tour and have generated a lot of interest via the press and within the local musical community for this event on 12th April.
All the acts were good. All of them had something to say. And I thoroughly enjoyed the video of clips.
I felt like I was watching a slice of history being performed, from musicians right across the generations, the youngest performer being the promising Lucy Grubb who is still at school, to the entertaining Dave Cooper, who, I’m guessing, left school a few generations ago.
I was struck by the variety on offer to a folk audience in East Anglia and am not surprised that this venue has sold out first.
So who is going to be opening ? some acts were simply more suitable for the event we are putting on and I had to use that guide for my selection. But that is not to detract from those not chosen.
So, we are delighted to invite Natalie Lake to perform a three song slot, immediately before Said the Maiden.
Performed at the opening of the evening will be a moving war torn song about his grandfather, with stunning electric fiddle, from Johnny Steinberg and Alex Preece.
We would also be delighted if the duo Steve O’Kane and Fiona would perform a couple of their songs for us and would like to also invite Andy Wall to sing a couple of his songs.
What an evening we are going to have !
I am so looking forward to meeting you all ” Dave Swarbrick
Getting excited yet ? we are ! here’s the poster for the first date of the tour
On David Swarbrick’s 73rd birthday on 5th April we are kicking off a 17 date solo tour ( with 14 dates being supported and promoted by Folkstock Arts Foundation) which is intended to provide an insight to the life and the musical legacy generated by the iconic fiddler from Fairport Convention, as well as showcase one of Swarb’s favourite young new folk acts as tour support, Said the Maiden and put the spotlight on 16 acts local to each of the venues. On David Swarbrick’s 73rd birthday on 5th April we are kicking off a 17 date solo tour ( with 14 dates being supported and promoted by Folkstock Arts Foundation) which is intended to provide an insight to the life and the musical legacy generated by the iconic fiddler from Fairport Convention, as well as showcase one of Swarb’s favourite young new folk acts as tour support, Said the Maiden and put the spotlight on 16 acts local to each of the venues.
Young trad folk trio Said the Maiden will delight with their gorgeous three part harmonies, delicate arrangements and all girl unison, complemented variously by flute, guitar and fiddle. Swarb will then round off the evening with insights,anecdotes and questions from the floor, ( how did he feel to read his obituary in the Telegraph that fateful day 15 years ago ? what was it like heralding a new wave of electric musical experimentation on his fiddle ? ) as well as playing his trusty fiddle for us. Said the Maiden will also join him for a couple numbers including a Fairport Convention song. Certainly not an evening to be missed. Tickets on sale now at all venues. Young trad folk trio Said the Maiden will delight with their gorgeous three part harmonies, delicate arrangements and all girl unison, complemented variously by flute, guitar and fiddle. Swarb will then round off the evening with insights,anecdotes and questions from the floor, ( how did he feel to read his obituary in the Telegraph that fateful day 15 years ago ? what was it like heralding a new wave of electric musical experimentation on his fiddle ? ) as well as playing his trusty fiddle for us. Said the Maiden will also join him for a couple numbers including a Fairport Convention song. Certainly not an evening to be missed. Tickets on sale now at all venues.
Dates and Venues for the tour – click here and then choose the Gigs tab on the left panel Dates and Venues for the tour – click here and then choose the Gigs tab on the left panel
The local acts having a chance to shine in front of a new audience are as follows: The local acts having a chance to shine in front of a new audience are as follows:
5th April Caerphilly Workmen’s Hall. 15yr old fiddler James Jones and Welsh songstress Catrin O’Neill
6th April Foundry Folk, Stamford. with acoustic singer songwriter little Rach supporting
10th April The Globe, Glossop. Local singer songwriter Martin Stimson and Kim Lowings from Manchester
11th April Cambridge Folk Club. 15 year old Tilly Dalglish who stepped in for Lisa Knapp at FolkEast last year
12th April Great Massingham Village Hall ( sold out ) – Natalie Lake, Steve O’Kane and Fiona McBain, Andy Wall and Johnny Steinberg and Alex Preece – auditions on 30th March
17th April Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury. BBC Folk Awards nominee Sunjay Brayne
19th April The Corn Exchange, Wallingford. Britain’s Got Talent finalist Sam Kelly with his fab new folky band, the Sam Kelly Trio, with Jamie Francis and Evan Carson.
24th April South Street Arts Centre, Reading. London based world folk singer Lanre and local folk singer songwriter Rik Knight.
25th April The Musician, Leicester. Feisty folk from Coalville’s Fay Brotherhood
26th April Derby cancelled – owing to a fire at the Assembly Rooms
2nd May The Electric Palace, Bridport. Singer songwriter Kara J Richards and fiddle player Lela Mai
3rd May The Exchange, Sturminster Newton, Dorset. Dynamic award winning duo Ninebarrow
4th May Colston Hall, Bristol. Winners of South West Folk Awards, Lazibyrd
15th May Key Theatre, Peterborough. Singer songwriter Alice Macy
24th May The Public Halls, Harpenden. Singer songwriter Kelly Oliver and John Farndon performing his Passing the Baton track, Peace in our Hearts
In addition to this opportunity, a couple of artists whose songs were given the Swarb treatment on the Passing the Baton EP, organised by Folkstock and released on 5th April, are Kelly Oliver, John Farndon and The Blue Pig Orchestra.
They will be joining Dave on stage at the following gigs : They will be joining Dave on stage at the following gigs :
17th April Shrewsbury – The Blue Pig Orchestra will be performing Gallows Hill with Swarb
24th April Reading – Kelly Oliver will be performing Grandpa was a Stoker with Swarb
24th May Harpenden – John Farndon will be performing Peace in my Heart with Swarb
Said the Maiden, the 4th track on the EP will be performing Shady Grove with Swarb each night of the tour. Said the Maiden, the 4th track on the EP will be performing Shady Grove with Swarb each night of the tour.
This is what Dave Swarbrick has to say about “I am so looking forward to touring with Helen in 2014. She has the welfare of her artiste’s as a priority, is honest and super capable. I reckon I’m going to enjoy meeting the musicians in her stable of fine new talent, and so, I am sure, will you!”
February 2014 February 2014
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.
Said the Maiden are the new girls on the block, friends since school they started performing at their local Redbourn Folk Club and were astonished at the reaction. This spurred them to learn more songs and bookings at festivals and clubs across the country soon came their way. Their voices meld into one on the unison singing and the harmonies bring the traditional english songs to life. A capella jostles with guitar, fiddle and flute to provide an exciting fresh take on these traditional songs.
Listen to Passing The Baton EP by clicking here Listen to Passing The Baton EP by clicking here
David Swarbrick is giving YOU a present for HIS 73rd birthday ! David Swarbrick is giving YOU a present for HIS 73rd birthday !
Thank you to Kev Boyd for the wonderful photo which we have used on all the promotional material.
Dave Swarbrick is patron of the Folkstock Arts Foundation and this release comes about through an initiative of theirs, where artists were invited to submit tracks and a lucky few would have Dave Swarbrick make a fiddle contribution to them, passing the baton from his generation to the next. By coincidence, Dave Swarbrick also happens to be a Fatea Lifetime Achievement Award holder and three of the four artists that he’s contributed to have appeared on the Fatea Showcase Sessions, so I was always going to be really interested in this release and I guess I should sort of declare an interest.
The things I really love about “Passing The Baton” is how diverse the songs are. There’s none that you wouldn’t call folk, but they are all so different and therefore Swarbs contribution is also very different, highlighting what a sympathetic musician he is and why he’s considered one of the musicians of his generation.
First up is Blue Pig Orchestra’s “Gallows Hill”, A tale about witchcraft, greed and hanging, it’s more up-tempo than you might imagine with the subject matter. Here the fiddle supports the narrative by delivering a sense of urgency as the song drives towards dramatic climax.
Whilst, Kelly Oliver’s “Grandpa Was A Stoker” is a much more personal song, one that’s easy to relate to as you imagine similar sentiment that may have come from a similar relative, though maybe not so well expressed. Here the fiddle really show it’s most delicate side, adding touches and flourishes to bring a depth to a passage and to help direct the mood.
John Farndon’s “Peace In My Heart” which is the most political song on the EP and emphasises folk as a platform for campaigning for social justice and fairness. It’s a track that really shows how empathetic the fiddle is, giving weight to the heartstrings being tugged at, fuelling the passion behind the lyrics.
Last but by no means least is Said The Maiden’s “Shady Grove” here the fiddle not only provides the introduction to the core of the song, but helps to bridge the verse chorus nature of the piece and the tight vocal harmonies that give it a real trademark sound as well as providing an instrumental passage that delivers a wonderful counterpoint to the voices.
“Passing The Baton” is a great success, everyone involved ends up a winner. The fiddle gets to showcase its flexibility as an instrument, Swarbs shows why he has so many years of playing behind him and four diverse artists get an opportunity to have their songs embellished by one of folk’s great musicians. Can’t do anything other than recommend this and recommend it strongly.
Do check out the Folkstock Arts Foundation to discover more about this release and the organisations other activities. All of the artists featured on the EP will also be appearing with Dave Swarbrick on at least one date of his tour, more details on site.
“It’s been a fascinating few weeks trying to figure out what to play on these tracks; after all, these songs are personal to the composers who all have the finished tune in their mind’s ear, some will like what I came up with, while others may not.
There were many tracks that were submitted which were good but when I got down to the nitty gritty, were not steady enough to work on, given I was doing it remotely, or in some cases, two instruments or more not playing together in a way that the fiddle could enhance. . There were others that simply didn’t need me on at all, much as I loved the songs and they almost seemed to cry out ‘leave me alone’! Luke Jackson’s entry fell into that category, as did many of the others, such as songs from Lanre and Minnie Birch.
I learnt just how vibrant and brave the current crop of musicians are, and I would like to take this moment to personally thank each of the entrants and to wish them well in their endeavours.
These are the tracks which we are delighted to announce will appear on four track EP we are calling ‘Passing the Baton’. They are all very different and I think they are great fun to listen to, and certainly were to perform on. I look forward to playing with these artists at least once during the tour.
Gallows Hill by The Blue Pig Orchestra. This was well recorded and was also an interesting song. Something a bit different for the EP and it reminded me a little of the work of Pentangle.
Shady Grove by Said the Maiden. Funnily enough, of almost 50 entrants in a folk orientated competition this was the only traditional entry. I like anything these girls do, they mean it! Loved their arrangement and it lent itself well to my fiddle style.
Peace in our heart by John Farndon. This grabbed me from the start. There is a poignancy in this song as sung by John that moves me, even more so because it’s sung by what sounds like an older man reflecting on the terrible things he sings of. Well done John, it’s a masterpiece.
Grandpa was a Stoker by Kelly Oliver is already blazing a trail as a result of her EP release. She is enthusing audiences wherever she goes and leaving nothing but good vibes in her wake. If you haven’t heard her yet it’s my pleasure to introduce her here.
I would have liked to have done more tracks, especially Fay Brotherhood, Gawkey, Will McNicol, Brian Burke and Lazibyrd, but I was ill unexpectedly and spent some time in hospital and then in aftercare, which ate into precious time and try as I might, I was unable to find the time for more.
The whole experience has been enormously uplifting as well as challenging and I look forward to seeing some of the artists on the tour, either as openers at some of the gigs or performing with me on stage at the gig nearest their home town.
If you’d like any more information about the tour which starts on my 73rd birthday, 5th April, in Caerphilly, Wales, you can take a look at my website.
Unusual acts, unique songs and lots of scope.
I have done the very hard job of whittling the entries down to 15, from which 5 or so will get selected. I am afraid it is all subjective. The ones chosen at this short listing stage represent a range of ages, experience and styles. And very importantly, would appear to be able to benefit from a fiddle line.
There has been no background presented to me and all tracks listened to on their own merit, blind, as it were. It is in no way a judgement on your talents if your track didn’t make it this far. I have enjoyed listening to them all immensely and feel uplifted by the whole experience so far. Please carry on making your wonderful music and making the world a better place for us all !
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to get involved with this project. I will now work on the short list to come up with a list of those tracks which I feel I can add something useful, as soon as I can.
I am really looking forward to touring in April and May and performing with as many of you as possible on your tracks.” Dave Swarbrick
Will McNicol Luke Jackson Michael J Tinker/ Bright Season Brian Burke Gawkey
Lazibyrd Blue Pig Orchestra Bill Adair Alton Wahlberg
Lanre Said the Maiden John Fardon Worry Dolls
Helen Chinn Katherine Fear Kelly Oliver Fay Brotherhood