Soothed by the Swimmers

March 30, 2009

Now that was more relaxing. After going into a mini-depressive stupor following the Art Bergmann concert, three nights later, I was soothed by the Great Lake Swimmers.

While the Swimmers have a great band sound, they revolve around singer/acoustic guitarist/songwriter Tony Dekker. At acoustics-friendly St. James Hall (a former church), his vocals were as wondrous as they are on the group’s recordings. Where does a voice like Dekker’s come from? What kind of otherworldly DNA does he have that enables him to sing so gorgeously? After just one song, a friend sitting near me in the pew had tears in her eyes. As far as I know, she’s not the type that cries on command. It was the aural beauty that got her.

They did a lot of tunes from the new album Lost Channels, which will be released tomorrow. The songs sounded more upbeat than the last release Ongiara. This made me a bit uncomfortable at first because I’ve been so beguiled by the powerful stillness of the angelic vocals and banjo (played by Erik Arnesen) of Ongiara. But hearing them rock out more is probably a good development; they would risk turning into a cliché if they stayed still too long.

Opening act Kate Mackie was a bonus: She was funny when she talked to the sold-out audience, and I loved it when she went country. Mackie had a pedal steel player, and I’m a sucker for that instrument’s high lonesome wail.

The Swimmers:


  1. I had the same reaction to the new songs (you know how much I love banjo, and Ongiara is a banjo lover’s dream) – but they won me over in the end. Beautiful, beautiful show.

  2. […] couldn’t possibly top their concert at the much smaller St. James Hall last March, which was magical. I should have listened to my intuition. The Vogue show just didn’t jell for […]

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