Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fairport Convention: Crazy Man Michael

One of my favorite fiddle players is Dave Swarbrick who has performed with the Ian Campbell Folk Group, Martin Carthy, Whippersnapper, Swarb’s Lazarus, and is probably best known for his tenure with Fairport Convention.

Swarb’s first encounter with the band was as a sideman on Fairport’s third LP: Unhalfbricking. He played on four cuts; however, his contribution on the album’s longest song, “A Sailor’s Life,” secured him in the minds of Fairport as a possible inclusion as a full band member – a role he continued in until 1979.

By the end of 1969, Swarb was entrenched in Fairport and played a significant role in their most successful LP to date: “Liege and Lief.” Thought by many as an album that defined the genre of English Folk-Rock, the LP features five traditional cuts and three originals written in the style of the other songs on the album.

“Crazy Man Michael” the LP’s final cut is a medium tempo waltz that was penned by Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson and features the late Sandy Denny on vocals.

In 1999, the diminutive muse of the fiddle was surprised to learn that his obituary had been printed in the Daily Telegraph, the UK’s most widely circulated newspaper. After learning the truth, the newspaper retracted the story.

Over the years, Swarb has suffered from a hearing loss (due to playing at high volumes) and emphysema. Following a successful lung transplant, Swarbrick rejoined the world of music in a new band with a name that characterized his symbolic rise from the dead – the band is called Swarb’s Lazarus.

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