Columbus lost one of its most talented musicians last week when violinist Noel Sayre died in a tragic accident at a community pool near Portsmouth. Sayre played in two local bands: the Black Swans and Pretty Mighty Mighty.
Columbus lost one of its most talented musicians last week when violinist Noel Sayre died in a tragic accident at a community pool near Portsmouth. Sayre played in two local bands: the Black Swans and Pretty Mighty Mighty. The accident took place the evening of July 1 while Sayre was at Porter Township Community Pool with his girlfriend, Crystal Turvey, and her children. Turvey had just taught him how to swim this summer, said friend and Black Swans band mate Jerry DeCicca. According to the Scioto County Sheriff's Office report, Sayre slipped beneath the surface during an adult swim. Turvey looked up and didn't see him, and shortly afterward someone alerted the lifeguards to Sayre's body at the bottom of the pool. Lifeguards retrieved Sayre and resuscitated him, and an ambulance transported him to the Southern Ohio Medical Center, where he remained in a coma until he died early last Thursday morning. Detective Jodi Conkel of the sheriff's office said there was a question as to whether a heart attack led to the accident, but "it might never have been confirmed." There was no autopsy. Sayre, 37, is survived only by a cousin. A memorial service will be held Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 1015 Fifth Ave. in Huntington, W.Va., with visitations from noon to 2 p.m. The Columbus Music Co-Op has set up a nonprofit account to help cover funeral expenses. Any remaining money and all future donations will be used to launch a music scholarship at Ohio University in Sayre's name. Checks can be made out to "Noel Sayre Memorial Fund" and sent to the Columbus Music Co-op, 2895 Neil Ave., No. 390A, Columbus 43202; or donations to firstname.lastname@example.org can be made through PayPal. (Twenty percent of the proceeds from the co-op's Here Comes Your Weekend/Parking Lot Blowout, held Saturday, also will go to the fund.) Sayre lived in West Virginia in recent years and played in the Huntington Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. Violin lessons were also a big part of his life, DeCicca said. "When the music school in Huntington shut down, Noel took on the students and started giving lessons at his house," he said. "It's something he did and made very little money doing it." The Black Swans had their most successful year yet in 2007, releasing Change! to critical acclaim and embarking on well-received national tours. 2008 was shaping up to be a big year as well, with a new album that will feature Sayre on violin. He had already recorded his parts at the end of May, DeCicca said. The album will have 10 tracks: Six feature Sayre, one has no violin, and three songs will feature string arrangements that Sayre had been working on "as a chamber piece," DeCicca said. "He has a friend in Athens, Ohio, who's a composer. He's going to take Noel's notes and finish them off, so we're going to move forward with whatever Noel's already done." DeCicca said the album, which is in the mixing stages, is probably the best Black Swans record yet. "Oddly, it's kind of this concept album about being agnostic and placing faith in music and friendships as opposed to a higher power," he said. Sayre's parts are wonderful as usual, DeCicca said, "combining aspects of classical music, Appalachian music and drone music, and doing it with a lot of emotions. He just has this really strong pathos that runs through his fiddle that to me was inseparable from the songs." Sayre also recently contributed violin accompaniment to a new record by Larry Jon Wilson, an obscure outlaw-country songwriter from the '70s in the vein of Townes Van Zandt who hadn't released an album in 28 years until DeCicca resurrected him. The self-titled album is out now in the UK and should be released soon in the U.S. on HackTone Records.