West Norfolk tributes to Dave Swarbrick

Dave Swarbrick
Dave Swarbrick
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Popular folk musician Dave Swarbrick has died at the age of 75.

Known as “Swarb” to his legions of fans, he was best known for his work with influential folk group Fairport Convention; performing mainly on the violin, he wrote many of the group’s songs.

He had many West Norfolk fans and two years ago played at a sell-out Great Massingham concert for Folkspot Radio. Here are two memories of that night:

Jane Clayton, of West Norfolk Radio, writes: “I have a very eclectic taste in music but as a teenager I began to take an interest in folk music. My favourite album at the time was Fairport Convention’s Leige & Lief, on which Dave Swarbrick played violin and viola.

“I was, therefore, very excited when Folkspot Radio (now West Norfolk Radio) was invited to host one of the dates on his 17-venue tour with Said the Maiden back in 2014.

“Dave’s popularity was very apparent by the rate at which we managed to sell all the tickets and by the number of local musicians who vied for the chance to be the support act for the night.

“Though Dave is no longer with us I am sure he will continue to influence musicians through, not only the dexterity of his fiddle playing, but also his determination to continue playing while suffering from and debilitated by emphysema. He will be sadly missed by musicians and audience alike.

Gareth Calway gave this eulogy: “A few weeks ago at the Wolf Folk Cub, Wolferton, a woman of 60 made her debut as a folk singer. It was to The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood (as created by Sandy Denny and Dave Swarbrick) that she turned for inspiration.

“It was a poignant moment then and is even more so now that folk legend Dave Swarbrick – The Swarb – is no more. It is moments like these that he gave us.

“They will live on, I suspect, for as long as English folk music continues to celebrate the creative genius of its people.

“I was lucky enough to review An Evening With Dave Swarbrick at Great Massingham Social Club a couple of years ago. I had to pinch myself to believe I was hearing the great man at such close quarters.

“In between anecdotes about his dazzling career, he reminded us of the unearthly brilliance of his playing.

“His best music conveys a ‘joy too deep for tears’. His Crazy Man Michael, written with Richard Thompson and sung by Sandy Denny, is surely one of the most perfect folk songs ever recorded. We will miss him but he lives on in the music he gave us.”