The story of FiddleBop
It was a rainy day in summer 2004. Dave Favis-Mortlock had recently met Jo Davies. While camping near beautiful Poppit Sands in West Wales, they tried playing one or two jazz tunes together, on violin and guitar. It sounded good! So when they returned to North Oxfordshire, they kept playing.
Dave had been playing the violin since his teens, and had fiddled in lots of bands: mostly folk-rock (including supporting Fairport Convention at their Cropredy Festival and elsewhere) but also some early music. Guitarist and singer Jo had also been gigging since her teens. She was from a singer-songwriter musical background, and also played classical piano.
The years passed, and Jo and Dave's jazz repertoire and skills grew. Then Jo thought of a name: FiddleBop. "Nice! And ours alone1". Now all that Jo and Dave needed was the rest of the band...
FiddleBop, version 1
After a chance encounter in a village hall, Roger Davis joined the nascent FiddleBop. His version of events is as follows: "An unlikely pair of people accosted me. At first I thought they wanted money, but instead they asked if I would like to play some jazz with them". Roger had played double bass for many years and with several bands, and in almost every town in Britain. His hard-driving style helped raise the ante for FiddleBop, swing-wise.
The trio became a quartet in 2011 with the arrival (following another chance encounter) of guitarist, banjo-player, and singer Martin Crowder. Along with his lightning guitar melodies, Martin brought a wealth of musical experience to the band, from years of playing in venues throughout the UK as a duo with his wife Pat. He also brought a rich fund of jokes and one-liners (some of them truly terrible).
So the first version of FiddleBop gigged... and gigged and gigged. Many live shows, of all kinds, and with the occasional guest musician: on stages large and small, on haywagons, in street markets, at festivals, in sunshine and (thankfully not often) in rain. In marquees and in gardens, at stately homes and universities, in pubs and in breweries and even in a distillery. Some especially memorable live appearances were:
- London's Le QuecumBar ("The World's Premier Django Reinhardt Gypsy Swing Venue")
- Upton Jazz Festival
- For Oxford University
- Regular Oxford Jazz Kitchen gigs at The Rose and Crown, Oxford
- Chipping Norton Festival
- Chippy Jazz And Music Festival
- Regular Sunday Jazz gigs at The Nag's Head On The Thames, Abingdon.
The first version of FiddleBop disbanded in late 2017, following Dave and Jo's move to Wales.
FiddleBop, version 2
See you at a FiddleBop gig soon?
And according to Merriam-Webster's Word Central, "to fiddlebop" can mean "to drop a musical instrument on the floor". Can that really be true?