The Great Lake Swimmers: Erik Arnesen

The Great Lake Swimmers: Erik Arnesen

Toronto’s folk-rock masters play Cranbrook

Great Lake Swimmers to perform at Key City Theatre May 31

Ferdy Belland

“O ur current tour’s been going great,” says Tony Dekker, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Toronto’s indie-folk rockers Great Lake Swimmers. “The band’s in top form, and we’ve been playing better and better with every show. We just did two and a half weeks in the US Northeast, and we’re really excited to head west through Canada. So far, so good!”

The Great Lake Swimmers perform live at Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre on Sunday, May 31, with opening act The Weather Station and a set from Cranbrook’s Good Ol’ Goats! Agreed: so far, so good!

“We’re touring across Canada into June 2015,” explains Dekker, “then down the west coast of the US and into the south, and home through the middle, sort of. We end with a show at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. We have some summer festivals booked, and we just confirmed a European tour for September. Basically we’ll be trying to reach as many places as possible to support ‘A Forest Of Arms.’ We feel strongly that there’s something worthy to share in the new album, and how it’s being presented in our live show.”

Formed in 2003, the Great Lake Swimmers have grown from a vehicle expressing Dekker’s muse into one of the most remarkable Canadian folk-rock bands of the 21st Century. Dekker & Co. have been positively compared to the music of Nick Drake, Iron & Wine, Will Oldham, Sufjan Stevens, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, and the Red House Painters. With six critically-acclaimed albums under their belt (including their new release “A Forest of Arms”), the band’s current lineup also includes Erik Arnesen (banjo, electric guitar, harmonium), Joshua Van Tassel (drums), Brent Higgins (upright bass), and Miranda Mulholland (violin, harmony vocals).

Dekker expresses excitement at the Great Lake Swimmer’s upcoming first appearance in the East Kootenay.

“I think our band works really well in either smaller centres or big-city urban scenes,” says Dekker. “We do try to get off the beaten path as much as possible, in terms of places that we play. Canada especially is such a huge and diverse country with so many amazing cities and towns to connect with, big and small.

“The positive points of the roadwork are continuing the conversations with people that were started when the record was released. It’s nice to connect to people tangibly, and share space with people musically. Sometimes when the band’s playing beyond the sum of its parts, it becomes an ecstatic experience, which is amazing. The downside of the road is being away from family and loved ones. It’s challenging to be away for longer lengths of time.”

Dekker was asked if the songwriting muse still strikes as hard as it always has. “I try my hardest to write something every day,” he says. “I also find that I get into cycles or modes around album-making time that get more intense. I find that it’s more about being prepared for it when it comes, and so it’s about trying to be clear and in a state of songwriting readiness as often as possible. Just write good songs and focus on the music. And make sure your songs have legs, because you may end up singing them many years down the road.”

The Great Lake Swimmers perform live (with special guests The Weather Station and the Good Ol’ Goats) at the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook, the Sunday May 31 (showtime 6:30pm). Admission: $30(KCT members: $25.00); ticket info: 250-426-7006.

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