Monday, August 16, 2010


From the mid-1970s, as I began studying fine art at the East London Technical College under Jack Lugg, I became an avid follower of live folk music. My eldest brother had been at high school (an art matric at the Belgravia Art School) with Dave Tarr. We followed Dave's career from high school - and especially when he shot to stardom with the Silver Creek Mountain Band. Many was the time we'd go to watch the band play folk, bluegrass, rock, you name it. I did several sketches of Dave and other members of the band. These are some of them. Others will no doubt crop up as I explore my suitcases full of drawings.

Dave was a multi-instrumentalist who died tragically young about six years ago of skin cancer, having spent much of his life earning a living as a yacht skipper. But it was as a fiddle player that we best remember him.

Making up the Silver Creek Mountain Band alongside Dave was lead singer Denis Schultz, of whom I think this is a drawing, Roger Cummings, and the ebullient bass player Rod Dry.

Among the instruments Dave played was the penny-whistle. He introduced us to Irish traditional music, and in particular the Dubliners and Clancy Brothers.

This is Dave Tarr at work on another instrument, a mandolin. He also played the flute, sax, banjo and acoustic guitar, and was no mean singer either, his version of Streets of London being one of the finest I've heard.

Judging by the beard, and the pose, this is Denis Schultz again, this time playing banjo.

I rather like this shorthand sketch of Dave Tarr on his fiddle, captured in just a few lines.

Another, more detailed drawing of the virtuoso fiddle player.

Here I got up close and personal, taking in Dave's distinctive nose and thick beard.

It is not easy drawing people performing on stage, especially in pubs, after a few pints, when the light isn't always that good. But this, I think, captures again something of Dave's dynamic playing, which I think was modelled on the great Fairport Convention fiddler Dave Swarbrick.

After Silver Creek disbanded, following the tragic death of Roger Cummings, for a while Dave teamed up with Trevor Promnitz. They played at various gigs in East London, including for a time at the Hotel Osner, which is where I recall doing this drawing. Trevor played the acoustic guitar and sang lead vocals, while Dave did the embellishments with fiddle, mandolin, etc.

Often, Dave Tarr would play these incredibly complex fiddle solos, especially on their trademark Orange Blossom Special, and old Trevor would have to pound away on that guitar.

Trevor providing the rhythm, backed by a drum kit, during one of Dave Tarr's fiddle solos.

A fine vocalist in his own right, Trevor Promnitz also had a great sense of humour, such as the time, in the late 1970s, when a couple of us were thrown in the Cambridge police station jail overnight after objecting when we saw a drug squad oaf pushing a young girl Rhodes student around outside the Hobnob pub in Bonza Bay, mentioned in an earlier posting. Arrested on the Friday night, we only got out late on the Saturday, and when we entered the Hobnob where Dave and Trevor were playing, Trevor said: "We'd like to dedicate this next song to the Bentley brothers, it's called In On The Weekend." They then played Neil Young's classic, Out On the Weekend.

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