FolkWorld #81 11/2023
© Alex Monaghan

Marwick & Co


Artist Audio Gavin Marwick & Aaron Jones "Quarterdays: Candlemas", Own label, 2023

Celtic Connections

Gavin Marwick: Quarterdays
Celtic Connections
The Barony Hall, 2nd Feb 2024

Celtic Connections @ FROG

Fiddler Gavin Marwick joins a fabulous group of friends in party mode for the finale of his recent project - a series of EPs of his original music celebrating the old Scots Quarter Days, all recorded as duos. It’ll be a full year since the series started in February 2023 with Candlemas (Aaron Jones on cittern), followed by Whitsun (Wendy Stewart on harp) in May, Lammas (Ruth Morris on nyckelharpa) in August and finally Martinmas (Phil Alexander on accordion and piano) in November. Featuring a selection of duo moments from each of the EPs as well as bigger sections involving everyone, alongside other special guests - including Journeyman stalwart Fraser Fifield - the band will also revisit material from previous incarnations of Gavin’s including Journeyman, Bellevue Rendezvous and Iron Horse. I’m very grateful to be having a busy, enjoyable and rewarding year, now capped with the exciting announcement that, through the successes of the Quarterdays EPs, we'll be headlining a show at Celtic Connections 2024!

"This will be the series finale for the Quarterdays project. The first EP was released on Candlemas 2023 so it seems wonderfully apt to close the series exactly one year later. I’m biased I know but I think it’s going to be fantastic and I’m super-excited about it! As well as all the recordings being complete and available we will also be using this event as a launch for the tune book of the entire series."

"As the year has drifted by Candlemas, Whitsun and Lammas have all been released and that just leaves Martinmas, patiently waiting for November. Its been a very absorbing project, a lovely excuse to combine music and concepts. It’s brought about 60 new tunes out into the world. I’ve enjoyed both the duo format and the EP format (I also liked the description of them as mini-albums!). Even with all the research I did I’m still learning yet more lore about the Quarterdays through interviews and interesting conversations with people at the merch table. Martinmas will be launched on 11/11 at Heart of Hawick, where both myself and Phil will be playing a Firelight Trio concert with Ruth."

"AND, FINALLY: As large sections of humanity go about their lives determinedly trying to take the world to hell in a handcart it seems all the more important and necessary to widely promote compassion, understanding and cooperation. I do like to think that, through our art and music, theatre and social dance the work we do here helps in some way to open hearts and minds to a better, happier and more contented world."

Love and light, Gav

Gavin Marwick

Artist Video Gavin Marwick


GAVIN MARWICK - Quarterdays: Candlemas

The first in a planned series of four short albums, Quarterdays: Candlemas presents fifteen tunes by this highly-regarded Edinburgh fiddler and prolific composer. The fiddle is backed by Aaron Jones on cittern, giving a rounded sound which focuses on the melody but hits the rhythm when needed. Marwick opens with a slow 9/8 piece, the dramatic Midpoint of Winter, and breaks into the dark minor Candlelight Reel with jagged edges and crooked endings. The pair of jigs which follow are more light-hearted, fine dance tunes to lift the spirits, still with that wintry edge.

A Scandinavian-sounding hornpipe leads to a big set of reels, smooth confident fiddling and again the dark crooked feel of ancient places - a theme is emerging! The names are a giveaway too: Dry and Fair and Wet and Foul, The Burnt Candlemas, The Birch Wand and Jig St Bride all evoke old winter customs. The February Jig is a lovely slow thaw of a tune, leading to three more jigs increasing in energy and flow. The final pair of tunes is both optimistic and cautious: A Flame of Gold gently welcomes the return of the sun, while Prayer for Protection suggests that it may bring more than just warmth and light. Quarterdays: Candlemas tells a story in tunes, and stands as a fine body of new music from the edge of northern Europe.


Artist Audio Gavin Marwick & Wendy Stewart "Quarterdays: Whitsun", Own label, 2023


Artist Audio Gavin Marwick & Ruth Morris "Quarterdays: Lammas", Own label, 2023

GAVIN MARWICK & WENDY STEWART - Quarterdays: Whitsun

GAVIN MARWICK & RUTH MORRIS - Quarterdays: Lammas

The next two have now been released either side of midsummer. Like Quarterdays: Candlemas, each serving presents a dozen or more compositions by fiddler Gavin Marwick, aided and abetted by a chosen musical companion. Harpist Wendy Stewart joins him on Quarterdays: Whitsun for an eclectic mix of Celtic contemporary and traditional-sounding airs and jigs, Scandinavian and Balkan moods, a delightfully varied medley of strathspeys and reels, and a pair of almost oldtimey melodies which see Gavin switch to mandolin. Wendy's trademark glissandos and grips provide accompaniment and additional melody lines, allowing the duo to experiment with a range of different textures. I particularly enjoyed the dreamy title air, very much in keeping with contemporary Scots fiddle.

Quarterdays: Lammas combines fiddle with nyckelharpa from Ruth Morris who has worked closely with Marwick in many settings. The character of this selection is more Scandinavian. Gavin's supperb fiddle still shines in both smooth and spiky styles, but Ruth's contribution on keyed Swedish fiddle brings a clear Nordic feel to many tracks: the stately dance Hats and Ribbons, the low ground and aching sweetness of Those who Seek the High Places, and the gentle march Lammas Towers. There's joy here too, in the Scottish 7/8 Time of Plenty and the reel Lùnastal, but the approach of autumn has perhaps taken some of the spring out of dancers' steps. The final August Breeze brings an almost formal note, with churchlike resonances from the nyckelharpa underpinning the rich fiddle tones. I'm looking forward to the final portion of this musical pizza, adding winter's bite to the beautiful music shared so far.

Aaron Jones

Ruth Morris

Phil Alexander

Wendy Stewart

Photo Credits: (1) Celtic Connections, (2)-(6) Gavin Marwick, (8) Ruth Morris, (9) Phil Alexander, (10) Wendy Stewart, (unknown/website); (7) Aaron Jones (by Walkin' Tom).

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