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Old Swan Band

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English music can stand up with any other - as long as it’s played with skill, knowledge, love and passion.  English dance music is vibrant, good to dance to, good to listen to.

An Inclination To Dance

Old Swan started life in 1974 Originally called the Cotswold Liberation Front .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.The band was truly revolutionary flying the flag uniquely for English (as opposed to Celtic) music.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 2004, when bursting from the studio came Swan-upmanship on the Wild Goose record label.
OSB now enters its thirty - first year, presenting here the 2005 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.

Old Swan Band 2004

The Cotswolds

Still Swanning
...
after all these years
Free Reed FRCD 31

Old Swan Band celebrated 21 years - in style!! Old Swan are widely acknowledged as the spearhead of the continuing revival of English southern country dance music - born out of those wild and heady sessions in the early 70s involving members of ' Oak', of 'Flowers & Frolics' and the 'Cotswold Liberation Front' ! Their early line-up and repertoire was fuelled with rich sources of traditional tunes learnt 'at the knee' of great living traditional musicians like Oscar Woods, Bob Cann, Jim Smith and the legendary Scan Tester , whose fine music lives on in the band's performances. And, for a band born in the Cotswolds and closely involved with the Bampton and Old Spot Morris , there's always a generous leavening of great Cotswold Morris tunes in the Swan Band's playing - and founder members Fi Fraser and Martin Brinsford can be heard on John Kirkpatrick's Morris tunes CD Plain Capers, (still available on Vinyl from Free Reed) - while Rod Stradling has been the one of the musicians for Bampton Morris for years! This  CD release celebrated the 21st birthday (in 1995) of this institution of the English folk-scene. Though always happiest as a live band, they were thankfully 'dragged kicking & screaming' into the recording studios just four times during the late 70s and early 80s, and each of these sessions is featured. Their first two albums were on the Free Reed record label: 'No Reels' - the title hints at the Band's uncompromising attitude to their repertoire - (no 100mph 'Rigs & Jeels' HERE, thank you!) - while in 1978 their ' Old Swan Brand' appeared, with a sprinkling of songs and more fine sets of tunes that are still in every decent band's repertoire. Their 3rd LP, on Dingles - 'Gamesters, Pickpockets & Harlots' was exclusively of newly discovered Cotswold material, and the 1983 line-up, now with John Adams, Paul Burgess and Richard Valentine , then recorded an 4-track EP (remember them?) for Waterfront - their last record until now! Over 78 minutes of the best that ever there was of English country music by the band who, as Dan Quinn says ' gave English folk-dance music a good kick up the arse!'
a grand introduction to The Old Swan Band - guv'nors of English folk bands for the last 21 years!

Old Swan Band circa 1980

Old Swan Band circa 1980. Left to right:
Fi Fraser, Jo Fraser, Richard Valentine,
Paul Burgess,Martin Brinsford,
Rod & Danny Stradling
photo: Ian Anderson

Old Swan Pub. Old Bletchley, Buckinghamshire

Still Swanning.........after all these years 1995
Free Reed FRCD 31 1995

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"'We could do the Stick and Bucket Dance,' volunteered Baker the weaver."
- Baker the weaver,Lords and Ladies by Terry Prachett

Folkscape
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