The Old Swan Band are celebrating their fortieth anniversary with a cleverly titled album which includes some previously unrecorded material.
They play country dance music with a gentle punch - provided by an unusual combination of instruments. The current line up consists of John Adams (trombone), Martin Brinsford (harmonica and percussion), Paul Burgess (fiddle), Fi Fraser (fiddle), Jo Freya (saxophone and whistles), Neil Gledhill (bass saxophone), Flos Headland (fiddle) and Heather Horsley (keyboard)
There is no doubt that this is music that needs to be danced to, which probably explains why there is little change in texture throughout the album. Of course, changes in tempo and volume are not really practical when playing for dancing!
There is, however, a rich variety of material - from traditional English favourites like Devon Bonny Breastknot and Blued-Eyed Stranger to tunes from across the Channel like La Ouellette and Les Trois Puits. There are even tunes with Australian origins (The Queer Fella’s Schot-ese and Sally Sloane). Aside from these occasional forays overseas, the tunes are a musical tour of the United Kingdom, with Scottish and Welsh tunes appearing alongside the English ones.
The music will make you smile, as it is unashamedly upbeat, so the best way to enjoy this album is to clear some floor space and put on your dancing shoes.Shelley Rainey
Released by Fellside Records 29 September 2014
1. Devon Bonny Breastknot/Getting Upstairs
2. Salford Lasses/Lady Compton’s Whim/Welsh Jigg
3. Leeds Polka/Jenny Bell Polka
4. Gypsy’s Hornpipe/Astley’s Hornpipe/Coleford Jig
5. Les Trois Puits/Barbara Allen/The Green Ship
6. La Ouelette/Parnell’s March
7. Varsoviennes: Herbert Smith’s/Sally Sloane’s/Rita Baker’s
8. Whistling Rufus/Woodland Revels
9. The Queer Fella’s Shot-Ese/Hayward’s Shottische
10. Not for Joe/Seamo’s Polka
11. The Rose Tree/(The Bottom Of) The Punchbowl
12. Covent Garden Row/Hunting the Hare/Hop Jig/Bishop of Chester’s Jig
13. Alexandra Park/President Garfield
14. Kelso Fiddle & Accordion Club/March of St. Timothy