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Oliver Swain bringing his own brand of subsistence folk to Lethbridge

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Oliver Swain has been playing ‘subsistence folk music’ for a number of years with a variety of high profile folk bands like the Duhks, Bills, Outlaw Social and Rustic Jennies, but is pleased to being his own band to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 9.Oliver Swain. Photo submitted

While he has enjoyed  his numerous projects, and learned alot playing with them, he is overjoyed to be playing with Ashley MacIsaac’s 14-year-old guitar whiz Quinn Bachan and Aidrian Dolan.

“I trust these people. Folk musicians have a lot in common with farmers. You plant the seeds in the ground and try to live off of what grows out of them,” he said adding sometimes  you get a good crop, other times , all of the work gets wiped out.

“Sometimes it happens. Years of work gets lost. It seems to be  a recurring theme especially when you play subsistance folk for a living. A lot of these projects fell apart or I left on my own accord,” Swain said of Oliver Swain’s Big Machine which combines guitar  virtuosity with intense fiddle playing and Swain holding it together on clawhammer banjo and ‘fiddling,’ the bass.

“We got together in the fall around November and we played all over B.C. and now Alberta,” he said.
 the band has come a long way considering they only formed last year.

“It’s been great. We’re getting played on CBC and CKUA,” he said.

One of the interesting  tracks on the CD  “Oliver Swain In a Big  Machine,” is a folk style cover of the Bruce Springsteen hit, ’I’m On Fire.’
“I’m equally influenced by Bruce Springsteen as I am by bands like the Fleet Foxes and  Calexico.  I just started jamming on the song with Jeremy Penner,” he said adding he doesn’t usually perform other people’s hits  but thought he could  put his own spin on the Springsteen smash.


 “I think we’re doing something very different with it. Something intersects and I hope people will find something they like in it,” he said adding  the Big Machine’s fiddle powered music also has some European influences in it.

“I listen to a lot of European music as well as American music,” he said he is enjoying the on stage interplay between Aidrian Dolan’s fiddle and his own bass fiddle and banjo.

“We feel it  represents the music,” he said adding he is looking forward to returning to Lethbridge. He was last here to play at Henotic with Jeremy Penner.
“I just figured I’d take the best guitar player and the best fiddle player I know out to Alberta. He have a hell of a good time.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 March 2011 15:22 )  
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