I just learned of the death of Dave Swarbrick, flash fiddle genius of British folk music. He'd been wrestling with major health issues for years, even having survived a premature obituary a while back.
The first track on the first side of Friends, that free A&M Records sampler album I sent away for in high school, was "Walk Awhile" by Fairport Convention. Swarb's mad playing and deep, sweet vibrato hooked me and thousands of others worldwide on Fairport, an attraction to which few have yet to surmount. Further digging brought me to his incendiary work with Martin Carthy, like "Byker Hill."
But it was the Fairport era, especially around Full House, that I keep going back to, even after working backward to the earlier lineups with Sandy Denny and Tyger Hutchings. This was a very different band, which the accompanying live document House Full confirms.
When the Continental Drifters performed as the backing band at the tribute to Sandy Denny at The Arts at St. Ann's, we were fortunate to have had Deni Bonet covering Swarb's parts with aplomb and character of her own.
Here is about a half hour of that Fairport Convention lineup, which is brilliance and beauty incarnate. If "Dirty Linen" alone doesn't thrill you to the core, take your pulse.
Rest in peace, Swarb, and thanks for all this.