With his latest record The Fortunate Few celebrating its first anniversary this past March, Fredericton-born, Halifax-based Thom Swift is enjoying the well-deserved fruits of his labour.
Since the album’s release, he has had the opportunity to perform alongside musical greats like Rosanne Cash and Canned Heat. Earlier this year, The Fortunate Few took home the 2014 East Coast Music Award for Blues Recording of the Year, while late last year, the album earned him a Music Nova Scotia Award in the same category.
As comfortable performing solo as he is with his backing band the El Caminos, Thom Swift takes to the stage of Riverview’s Caseley Park on Wednesday, July 16, for a solo performance.
From his home in Halifax, Swift says that he is looking forward to his upcoming performance.
“My comfort level with respect to performing in parks is really just something that has truly blossomed over the last year,” he says. “Not only do you get a wide range of ages that show up to the show, the atmosphere is just wonderful. I get to go on stage, tell my stories and sing my songs.”
Swift says that once upon a time public performances like the one he will undertake in Riverview tended to make him nervous. He says it was as though he was better able to maintain some control if he were performing in a theatre or small hall. He felt as though the open space performance didn’t afford him the control he thought he needed over his show.
Luckily for fans, he proved himself wrong.
“I think having my eyes opened to the full potential of this kind of public performance simply came from a lot of experience,” Swift says. “For a long time, I wondered how I could possibly connect with an audience that was sitting 25 or 40 yards away from me? How can the necessary communication between the audience and myself take place in that setting? I just felt so disconnected.
“But then I realized that I might as well just embrace these kinds of performances. Since then, I am really enjoying having the opportunity to play my music in these beautiful settings like Caseley Park.”
The art of the live performance is something that Thom mastered long ago. His ability to foster a close connection with his audiences, regardless of environment, can no doubt be attributed to his down-to-earth approach to virtually each facet that goes into making music. A skilled guitarist, Swift’s lyrics touch upon subjects that nearly all listeners can identify with.
And while Swift revels in the opportunity to share his music in an open environment like Caseley Park, he also thoroughly enjoys the intimacy that can be found in house concert performances.
“I feel nothing but privileged and humbled to be welcomed into someone’s home to play music,” he says. “It is just such a no-frills environment. I take five minutes to set up my guitars and then get to perform and hang out with an audience of music lovers. It is such a simple idea but it is one that people truly enjoy coming out to, especially to those places that are outside of major city centres. House concerts give me the chance to bring my music to the people on an even more intimate level.”
Having a strong sense of community is something that has maintained its importance throughout Thom’s career. This coming fall and winter, he will embark on a tour that will see him visit smaller New Brunswick communities like Minto and Chipman. Reaching out to audiences in places that might not normally have performers pass through is something important to him.
“I love the concept of bringing audiences in those small communities a high-quality show. It is something I’m looking forward to. It will be a nice way to pass the fall and the winter.”
Also on the horizon later this year for Swift will be the making of a music video for The Fortunate Few track “Circle of Boots.” In the New Year, he anticipates heading into the recording studio for the making of a new album.
“My next record will either be a solo record or else have very minimal accompaniment. I would like to make a record that is perhaps not so highly produced,” he says. “It is something that I have wanted to pursue for a long time and, thanks to the experience I have gained from performing solo on stage, I feel I am ready to go that route and feel comfortable with it.”
What: Thom Swift
When: Wednesday, July 16, 7 p.m.
Where: Caseley Park, Riverview (In the event of rain, the event will be held at the Riverview Community Hall, 145A Lakeside Dr.)