Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Old Swan Band
The Old Swan Band are an English Country Dance Band
Oak were and English Country Dance Band in the early 1970's. They were one of a tiny handful that combined melodeon with fiddles. Two members of Oak, Rod and Danny Stradling, went on to form The Old Swan Band in 1974. They recruited Paul Burgess, Martin Brinsford and the Fraser Sisters (Jo and Fi). They took the English country dance scene by storm. Up to this point the English Folk Dance and Song Society had set the tone for polite decorum at Cecil Sharp House. The Old Swan Band had a drummer and saxophone player and brought punchiness.
In their wake came several other folk dance bands that combined brass instruments with fiddles - the New Victory Band, The Cock and Bull Band and Ramsbottom. The title of their first album was their manifesto - "No Reels". This was a way of saying you won't find fancy reels and jigs or any frantically paced tunes here. After two more albums and an EP, Rod and Danny Stradling left the band. The band became fiddle-dominated and did not return to the studio until 2004 - a gap of twenty-three years.
Rod Stradling recorded with the English Country Blues Band and the English Country Dance Band. He became editor of "Musical Traditions", a highly respected paper magazine. When the internet arrived he put the magazine's back copies on-line. The Fraser Sisters recorded as a duo and with a group called Freya. Martin Brinsford went on to join Brass Monkey, with Martin Carthy.
The 2004 Album, "Swan-Upmanship" was, as before, decidedly non-Celtic. Neil Gledhill and Jo Freya (Jo Fraser) were on saxophones, Martin Brinsford on drums and John Adams on trombone. On fiddles were Fi Fraser, Paul Burgess and Flos Headford on . Almost all the tunes were traditional and English.
- No Reels (1976) - Old Swan Brand (1978) - Gamesters, Pickpockets and Thieves (1981) - Swan-Upmanship (2004)
Compilation album - Still Swanning After All These Years
Anthologies - Stepping Up (2004) - fRoots 24 magazine sampler (2004)
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