Boadicea (Dave Swarbrick)

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    This is a slow air in waltz time written by Dave Swarbrick in memory of Sandy Denny. It appears on Swarb's 1982 album "Flittin". The tune transfers nicely from fiddle to mandolin.

    My recording is based on Maartin Allcock's transcription in the songbook that came with the Swarbrick CD box set on Free Reed Records.

    1890s Umberto Ceccherini mandolin
    Ozark tenor guitar
    Suzuki MC-815 mandocello

  2. Gelsenbury
    I especially like your smooth, soft tremolo on this tune. Are you using a special pick to get this effect?
  3. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Dennis. It's not a special pick just for this tune, but I'm always using different picks on my bowlbacks than on my other mandolins -- their response is quite different and I haven't yet found a pick that works with all types of mandolin. On the Mid-Mo and the Ajr, I'm using a fairly stiff Wegen 1.0mm guitar pick while on the bowlbacks I'm using a Jim Dunlop 0.88mm nylon pick.

    If anybody wants to learn this tune, the Swarb songbook that I used is copyrighted material (and still in print through Free Reed Records), but there is another transcription here. The chords are the same as in the version I've used, but it has been written in 9/8 time instead of the 3/4 in the Swarb songbook, which removes the need for notating triplets. Should sound much the same when played.

  4. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    I've revisited this old favourite of mine over the weekend, this time with video. As with my other recent recordings, I've played the mandolin unaccompanied and then overdubbed tenor guitar accompaniment afterwards.

    Using my Gibson A-jr, with accompaniment on my Vintage Viaten tenor guitar.

  5. Mike Romkey
    Mike Romkey
    Nice. That Gibson has a fantastic tone! There's nothing like a good old Gibson oval. Thanks for another Swarbrick tune. I nominate you for president of the Song-A-Week Social Group Swarbrick Society.
  6. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Mike! There's quite a few more Swarb tunes to come -- he did write some wonderful melodies, especially his slower ones. I am fortunate enough to have the comprehensive "Dave Swarbrick: Fiddle Tunes" book written by Maartin Allcock along with his two Fairport songbooks. Sadly, with both Maart and Swarb now deceased and much missed, these books are out of print. However, you can still get the small tunebook originally included in the Swarbrick 4CD box set and now sold separately by Free Reed Records:

    This little booklet is a joy in presentation and contents, and an absolute steal at only 4 Pounds. Includes both Boadicea and My Heart's In New South Wales.

    Crazy Man Michael next, I think.

  7. Bad Habbits
    Bad Habbits
    Very nicely done Martin - lovely tune and great sound.
  8. Gelsenbury
    I see you've had a good weekend, Martin. Nicely done again.
  9. bbcee
    Oh boy, if this one doesn't have "mandola" written all over it!!

    Thanks for this lovely tune, Martin, and for the introduction to Mr. Swarbrick's music. Another door opens!
  10. bbcee
    Here's my version. I was having serious sanity problems trying to play this in 9/8, until Martin kindly pointed out that it's really 3/4, unlike many of the printed transcriptions. Mandolin, mandola and melodica - hope you enjoy.

  11. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Lovely, Bruce -- great interplay of the mandolin, mandola and melodica (bit of a surprise when it comes in). Your tempo and phrasing is a lot closer to Swarb's than mine. I've been playing it with a slow air feel for many years, but Swarb's studio recording is actually quite jaunty. Probably appropriate to the subject of the tune, both the historical Boadicea and Sandy Denny, who Swarb called by that name. By all accounts, Sandy was a force of nature.

  12. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Interesting versions here, Martin and Bruce. Each brings out different aspects of the tune, as does your respective choices of instruments and tempo. Congratulations, both, on very fine recordings.
  13. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Yes, two very nice recordings. All sorts of things going into these lovely performances...enjoyed them very much. Bruce, what makes a Family the 'other' version, racy? Not suitable for kiddies?
  14. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Ginny: not that it would be apparent on this instrumental, but Fairport Convention did in fact issue two recordings with a sticker "Parental advisory - Explicit Swarbrick". The first of them was a recording of a telephone prank played on him by his band mate Simon Nicol, with a very sweary response by Swarb, and the other was a distinctly adult-only set of alternative lyrics to their song "Sailor's Alphabet".

    Here is the officially-released take of the song, off their 1971 album "Babbacombe Lee":

    Sailor's Alphabet

    And for adults only, here is the expletive outtake. Vocals by Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg, with another UK folk grandee, Martin Carthy, taking co-credit for the lyrics. You have been warned! :

    Naughty Sailor's Alphabet

  15. bbcee
    Ginny, I had to scratch my head over what you meant, not realizing you were referring to the SoundCloud title. Meanwhile Martin replied with a synchronicitous (not often you get to say THAT) answer!

    My answer to you is that I played two mandolin family instruments on the track which I wanted to indicate in the title, but I see now that the punctuation is a bit confusing. Anyway, I prefer Martin's response!
  16. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Ah, the power of the undervalued hyphen, Bruce. Had you written "mandolin-family instruments" all would have been clear with the compound adjective. Hey, I retired from being a teacher of English ( in Scotland) in 2003 but my 35 years in the profession has left a mark!
    As I said above, a great version whatever the titular ambiguities.
  17. bbcee
    Thanks much, John, and right you are. Hope you had at least one chance to say "synchronicitous " in those 35 years.
  18. Christian DP
    Christian DP
    Two great versions of a nice tune! Martin with his trademark tremolo and bbcee at a slightly elevated speed.
  19. Gelsenbury
    See, that's what I love about communicating with John: perfect written English, with any ambiguities elegantly resolved. I'm not a teacher of English, but my job also involves marking students' work. Having read hundreds of essays and reports, I've come to appreciate how valuable - and rare - good writing is.

    The melodica is obviously a trend instrument in this group! I enjoyed Bruce's arrangement very much.
  20. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Well done again Martin, and Bbcee too, I really like the melodica, and just enough so you want to hear more!
    Dennis, some famous guy, can’t remember his name once wrote a letter to his son. He said, ‘sorry I’m writing you a long letter but I do not have enough time to write you a short one.’
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