R.I.P. Noel Sayre
Black Swans Violinist Will Be Missed
by Stephen Slaybaugh

This past week music fans—and the world at large—lost Noel Sayre, violinist for the Black Swans, Columbus’ noir folk virtuosos. In Columbus, he was also known for his work as a member of Pretty Mighty Mighty, one of town’s strongest indie rock acts from the late ‘90 and early ‘00s. Sayre, who also played violin in the West Virginia and Portsmouth (Ohio) Symphonies, passed early Thursday morning after almost drowning in a swimming pool in Wheelersburg, Ohio Tuesday evening. It’s believed that he suffered a heart attack while he was swimming. He was 37 years-old.

Last year the Black Swans released the exceptional Change!, their second full-length, on La Societe Expeditionnaire. Their haunting sound was largely the result of Sayre’s beautiful playing, the counterpart to vocalist Jerry DeCicca’s dry cadence. The band was working on a third album at the time of the tragedy, but DeCicca has reported that Sayre’s parts were already recorded.

Noel and I were somewhere between friends and acquaintances, having the sort of comfortability that stems from being acquainted for nearly 10 years. He seemed to possess a reserved personality, tempered by a dry wit. This was in contrast to his expressive playing. It seems cliched to say it, but he certainly conveyed much of himself through his playing. While the Black Swans can come off as somewhat macabre, there was plenty of humor and joy in the music he created. He was obviously an expert at his instrument, but played with heart instead of just technical prowess. Such individuality shone through in everything he lent his talent to, and Noel will be missed for his sharing of that talent.

The Columbus Music Co-Op has set up a non-profit account in order to help cover Noel’s funeral expenses. All remaining money, and money earned in the future, will be used to set up a music scholarship at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in Noel’s name. Checks can be made to “Noel Sayre Memorial Fund” and sent to:

Noel Sayre Memorial Fund
c/o Columbus Music Co-Op
2895 Neil Avenue, #390A
Columbus, Ohio 43202

Contributions can also be sent via paypal to columbusmusiccoop@yahoo.com.