Swain bringing ‘rare and arresting’ voice to Harrison

Oliver Swain grabs attention of all who hear him, says festival organizer

Oliver Swain performs in Harrison Hot Springs on Jan. 25.

Hailing from Victoria, B.C., Canada’s quintessential folk and traditional musician, Oliver Swain, will be presenting his fresh take on old-time folk Saturday, January 25 at 8 p.m. in the historic Harrison Memorial Hall.

Oliver eats, sleeps and breathes music. With his pure, finely tuned vocals that have an astonishing range, and his undeniable skill behind a banjo or upright bass, Oliver grabs the attention of all who hear him, and holds it with his enormous sound and stature. 

“I first met Oliver at a house concert on Saltspring when he was a member of Outlaw Social. I was immediately struck by his haunting falsetto singing – a rare and arresting voice,” recalls Harrison Festival Society Artistic Director, Andy Hillhouse.

Over the last fifteen plus years Oliver has been honing his craft, and his efforts have taken him on a remarkable musical journey.  He has shone at the forefront of Outlaw Social, held up the bottom end of The Bills, and even completed a one year stint with Louisiana’s popular Red Stick Ramblers.

“Oliver has a pedigree in Canadian folk music, not only as a member of Outlaw Social and the Artistic Director of the Victoria Django Festival, but as an early member of one of Canada’s most popular folk bands of the last few decades, Scrüj MacDuhk,” states Hillhouse.

Oliver’s career on the stage has seen him tour through much of North America, Australia and Europe, highlighted by appearances at Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg Folk Festivals, Mountain View Music Fest and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes.  He has shared the stage with the likes of Ridley Bent, Dustin Bentall and Marc Savoy, among others and is a two time Prairie Music Award recipient (The Bills) and 2008 Western Canada Music Award nominee for Outstanding Roots Group (Outlaw Social).

Since the release of his solo debut, ‘In A Big Machine’, Oliver has built an enormous fan base and indisputable reputation as a contemporary folk music titan.  He effortlessly translates old melodies and words into something thoroughly modern and enticing.  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 to the masses with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Oliver will be accompanied in Harrison by folk music prodigy Quinn Bachand, celebrated violinist Richard Moody and multi faceted Glenna Garramone. As part of their performance they will be playing a short set from their Tower of Song Project: A Creative Tribute to Leonard Cohen.

Tickets for Oliver Swain’s Big Machine are $22.00 and can be purchased online at www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604-796-3664 or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison and Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart on Pioneer Ave.

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