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Bride’s March from Unst

[trad. arr. Martin Carthy / Dave Swarbrick]

Dave Swarbrick recorded a set consisting of the four tunes The Bride’s March from Unst, The Keelmans Petition, Show Me the Way to Wallingford, and Sword Dance, in 1983 for his forth Transatlantic album, Flittin’. On this track he played this with his old Fairport Convention line-up: Dave Swarbrick, violin, Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol, guitar, Dave Pegg, bass, and Dave Mattacks, drums.

A live recording of this set with Beryl Marriott at the Essex Festival 1981 was included in 2003 on his anthology Swarb!.

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick played the Bride’s March from Unst in another set together with the retreat march True Lover’s Lament and Lord Inchiquin on their 2006 album Straws in the Wind. Carthy commented in the sleeve notes:

There are the clearest echoes of the beautiful Jean Ritchie family song Nottamun Town in When I Was a Little Boy. They’re called “songs of lies” and are a very old idea - an idea assumed with huge effect by Bob Dylan in his epic Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. It’s from just about as far north as you can get in Scotland without drowning and the singer, John Stickle from Baltasound on Unst in the Shetlands, who sang may beautiful and unusual songs for Patrick Shuldham-Shaw, was also possessed of a wonderful repertoire of fiddle tunes. Among them was Bride’s March from Unst which Dave learned in Shetland from a mouth organ playing Customs Man at the end of just about the most eventful journey any gigging musician could ever have dreamed of. Ask him sometime. But do make yourself comfy won’t you: it takes a long time to tell. John Stickle actually had two Bride’s Marches in his repertoire and he called this one Da Bride’s a Bonnie Thing. Here it’s followed by a retreat march The True Lover’s Lament and the O’Carolan tune Lord Inchiquin which is a particular favourite of Dave’s. Mine too.