A man billing himself as “Canada’s quintessential folk and traditional musician” comes to Comox on Thursday for the third gig of the Summer Concert Series at Filberg Park.
Oliver Swain’s Big Machine will entertain starting at 7 p.m.
With his finely tuned vocals and his skill behind a banjo or upright bass, Oliver grabs the attention of all who hear him.
From the most vulnerable and innocent-sounding banjo ditties to the brave and imposing bowed bass, Oliver delivers his own brand of alternative folk and traditional music with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
Swain has spent the past 15-plus years honing his craft, including joining The Bills back when they were known as the Bill Hilly Band in Victoria. He played with them until he decided to split for Winnipeg, where he joined Scruj MacDuhk and continued as The Duhks.
Winnipeg also introduced Oliver to fiddler Jeremy Penner, and singer Ruth Moody, and the three went on to form Moody, Penner and Swain, kicking off a series of pilgrimages south of the Canadian border to the heart of the Appalachians.
It was on this journey that Oliver solidified his love for traditional southern folk music, and he later moved to Louisiana to perform with the well-known Red Stick Ramblers for a year. Swain then decided to bring the music back home to Victoria, where he helped form popular folk group Outlaw Social, releasing two critically acclaimed albums, and touring extensively for several years.
Since Outlaw Social’s demise, Oliver has invested the past several years in playing solo shows across Canada, building a fan base, and finally releasing his solo debut In A Big Machine.
Oliver recently toured internationally as a sideman with Juno Award winner Toni Childs, and lends his time to being Artistic Director with the Lower Island FolkFest Society, creating the up-and-coming Victoria music festival FolkWest.
Swain is a two-time Prairie Music Award recipient (The Bills) and shared a 2008 WCMA nomination for Outstanding Roots Group with Outlaw Social.
The Big Machine consists of “many fabulous musical cogs, nuts and pulleys,” mainly: Quinn Bachand, guitar; James Whitall, mandolin; Adrian Dolan, fiddle; Kelby MacNayr, percussion; Emily Braden, backing vocals; and Rick May, bass.
— Oliver Swain’s Big Machine