Fredericton native Thom Swift has been making music for the better part of a quarter century now, having started with acclaimed trio Hot Toddy before embarking on a solo career that kicked off with his 2007 release Into The Dirt.
An experienced, award-winning musician that has performed at the Vienna Jazz Festival, Memphis’ International Blues Summit, Nova Scotia’s Stan Rogers Folk Festival and Fredericton’s Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, Swift shares that when it came to the making of his latest solo effort – last year’s excellent release The Legend of Roy Black, his fifth solo album – he ended up following the same advice he had doled out to some of his peers in years prior.
“I had been contemplating making an album where musically, I really pulled things back to basics. No drums. No electric guitar. It’s a style of music that I grew up with as a kid, and subsequently what I tended to gravitate towards,” Swift says.
“It was Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier that ever so kindly reminded me that when they asked for my advice on records they were making, I was always the first to remind them they didn’t need to have a full band behind them on record, that they were such great performers in a solo setting, why try and mask that? Naturally, they happily threw that advice back at me when I solicited their thoughts on what The Legend of Roy Black should be.”
Accompanied by his Hot Toddy bandmate Tom Easley on stand-up bass, Asa Brosius on pedal steels guitar, J.P. Cormier on mandolin, violin and banjo and Dave Gunning on high strung guitar, The Legend Of Roy Black takes listeners on a journey through the lighter side of life, while also exploring the darker components of the human condition, including contemplation of his own mortality.
““You just never know when your number is going to be called. Approximately one year ago, I was discussing making this record with Dave [Gunning] when Jim Dorie, a good friend to both Dave and I, was working on his album at Dave’s studio. I told Jim that I’d love to play on his album if he was looking for another contributor. Jim readily agreed and a couple of weeks later, Dave let me know they were ready to have me record my parts. Jim had been battling cancer and sadly, we lost him. Dave later told me that one of the tracks I performed on Jim’s record, ‘I Don’t Know,’ he wrote especially for me, so it just made sense that I would include it on my record as a tribute to him,” Swift says.
The singer-songwriter goes on to relay how inspiration for …Roy Black track “Broken Glass” stemmed from the tragic circumstances of four longtime friends losing their wives to cancer.
Despite tackling seemingly heavy themes with some of the songs on his newest record, there are numerous rays of light to be found throughout The Legend of Roy Black with tracks like “Simpler Times,” and “Well Worn Road.”
“In offering all these things for people to think about and consider, you have to strike a balance between the dark and the light with every record. I’m very happy with the end result of the album; it was a lot of fun to write and to put everything together, but it also never fails that at the outset of making each record, I always wonder if I’ve got another album in me. Luckily, I always seem to manage to prove myself wrong,” Swift says, laughing.
What: Thom Swift
When: Saturday Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cocoa Room, 391 Coverdale Rd., Riverview
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. Service charges and taxes extra. Advance tickets are available at Jean Coutu (438 Coverdale Rd., Riverview), Sobeys (1160 Findlay Blvd., Riverview) and Frank’s Music (245 Carson Dr., Moncton).