Island artist inspired by deep south

Oliver Swain and Glenna Garramone perform under the name Tower in a Song on May 4 at The Haven on Gabriola Island.

Oliver Swain performs with Glenna Garramone as folk-roots band Tower in a Song on Gabriola on May 4.

Oliver Swain performs with Glenna Garramone as folk-roots band Tower in a Song on Gabriola on May 4.

It was more than a decade ago when Victoria native and singer/songwriter Oliver Swain fell in love with the cultural orgy that can be found in Southeastern United States.

“As a young artist from Canada I found myself becoming completely enthralled and fascinated with the rich musical traditions of the American South,” he said.

Eventually, Swain, who had been a member in a handful of bands, got to the point where he had to travel to the Southeastern United States.

“I went down there on a typical six-month sojourn into the mountains and I travelled all down the Appalachian Mountains and into the Delta playing music.”

The next thing Swain knew he was a member of a Cajun band and a resident of Breaux Bridge, La., which is known as the Crawfish Capital of the World.

“When I was down there I got inducted into the Redstick Ramblers,” Swain said. “So all of the sudden I went from a Northerner with a banjo and a dream to being bass player in one of the top Cajun and swing bands out of Baton Rouge. It was really exciting.”

Although Breaux Bridge is located about two hours west of New Orleans, the community is the birthplace of a wide range of talented individuals including musicians Branford Marsalis and Hunter Hayes.

“The thing that was so lovely about it was it is such a very diverse, liberal mindset,” Swain said. “This is the cultural centre of the South.”

Swain remained in The Pelican State for a year before deciding to return home to Victoria. Upon returning to B.C., Swain embarked on various musical adventures as a solo artist and as a member of artistic collaborations.

Recently, Swain paired up with fellow singer/songwriter Glenna Garramone to form folk-roots band Tower in a Song.

“She’s one of my favourite vocalists and we both had worked with each other before … we just have always loved singing together and through our love of singing harmonies and playing music together,” Swain said.

The duo recently released its first album, City in a Forrest. The album covers a wide range of Leonard Cohen songs.

“There is a lot of sensual and romantic content and there is an incredible amount of spiritual content,” Swain said.

On May 4, at 8 p.m., Tower in a Song performs at The Haven on Gabriola Island as part of the Big Fish Music Festival. Tickets are $20.

For more information, please visit www.oliverswainmusic.com/shows/.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

Nanaimo author B.S. Thompson has released his debut novel, ‘The Book of Nodd.’ (Photo courtesy Nora Funk)
Nanaimo author invites readers into dangerous world of dreams in debut novel

B.S. Thompson unveils ‘The Book of Nodd’ with online launch June 20

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Potters Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter present their joint exhibit ‘Dig It’ at Art 10 Gallery until the end of June. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Potters show pieces for home and garden at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter’s show ‘Dig It’ on display until end of June

Most Read