For more than two decades now, Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Thom Swift has been delighting audiences with a catalogue of music that owes much to Americana, roots, folk and blues music. With three full-length solo albums to his credit, in addition to a children’s album, The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project, recorded with fellow Nova Scotian Keith Mullins, Swift has accumulated an impressive amount of awards on his mantle, including numerous East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Maple Blues Awards and Music Nova Scotia Awards.
Swift has had the privilege of sharing the concert stage with an impressive list of performers including Rosanne Cash, John Hiatt, John Mayall, Guy Davis, Bill Frisell, Pinetop Perkins and Canned Heat, in addition to Matt Andersen, Kevin Breit, Steve Marriner, Stephen Fearing, Mike Stevens and Ray Bonneville.
On Friday Sept. 25, Swift will perform at the Cocoa Room in Riverview as part of the Riverview Arts Centre’s season.
While Swift’s recorded output is compelling in its own right, it is on the live stage that he truly shines. Swift’s engaging live performances have earned a deservedly good reputation amongst concertgoers, as he sings of life’s celebrations and disappointments, as well as the commonality of our human experience.
Prior to launching his solo career, however, Swift was one-third of acclaimed trio Hot Toddy, releasing more than a half-dozen recorded efforts together with Joel Leblanc and Tom Easley. Just last week, Swift, Leblanc and Easley reunited to perform at Fredericton’s Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, a fitting venue for the group since the festival played an integral part of their career.
Swift says their performance at Harvest was very much like a homecoming for the group:
“We have watched Harvest grow from being a modest little festival to the attraction that it is now. It’s such an amazing festival to have right in our backyards,” Swift says. “When we were a young band starting out, it was incredibly inspirational to see all these big names coming through Fredericton. It certainly got our minds running as to what we would be able to achieve with Hot Toddy.”
Despite having garnered a respectable fanbase during their original tenure, Swift says the group going their separate ways had more to do with the individual members getting on with their lives than animosity creeping in amongst the members.
“We worked hard in the 12 years that we were together, touring all over North America and Europe. I think we had just reached a point where it was time for a change. Tom [Easley] had received a job offer for a teaching position at a community college, and, at the time, had just had a baby as well. It was more of a matter of life priorities changing than anything else, but that ultimately gave each of us the opportunity to go off and do our own thing.”
Although no one is quite sure what future, if any, could await Hot Toddy, Swift says that he believes it would be “silly” not to revisit the band more frequently, given the reception that their Harvest performance provided them.
“There is no animosity between the three of us; we have remained good friends all these years. I think it would be great to go back there and see what could happen in the future,” he notes.
Swift estimates that he is approximately two-thirds of the way through writing a new solo record. He doesn’t share much in the way of specifics, but notes that he anticipates the record will come from a minimalistic approach, featuring only his guitar, his distinctive baritone vocals and only a few instruments otherwise.
“I want to give listeners an album that I feel is indicative of my live show, which I typically perform solo. I have been looking to make a record like this for quite some time, and am excited to begin the recording process,” Swift says.
Swift’s special guest at his Friday evening performance will be Moncton native Chris Colepaugh. Together with his band The Cosmic Crew, Colepaugh will be releasing his next studio effort, tentatively titled Stateless, in January, 2016. The record will be his first release in more than five years, during which time Colepaugh has kept busy performing with the likes of Roch Voisine, in addition to a prolific solo live schedule in venues throughout Metro Moncton.
What: Thom Swift with special guest Chris Colepaugh
When: Friday Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cocoa Room, 391 Coverdale Rd., Riverview