When: 7.30pm on Monday 14 September 2015
Where: The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE
We’re delighted to be welcoming back Great Lake Swimmers – their first Manchester show in over three years.
A Forest Of Arms is the sixth album from Tony Dekker’s Great Lake Swimmers and the follow up to 2012’s New Wild Everywhere. With a surging rhythm section, razor sharp violin, banjo and guitars and flourishing, Dekker and band mates have pushed their sound significantly, creating some of their most dynamic songs ever recorded.
Those familiar with the decade-long output or Great Lake Swimmers will recognise the thematic threads of beauty in the natural world, environmental issues and explorations or close personal ties that hold us together. The familiar versus the strange theme is ook running through this record, both in the instrumentation and in the songwriting.
A Forest Of Arms was recorded in several at locations over the span of several at months, covering extensiveness new territory while remaining true to the group’s refined sound. One of the unique and unusual locations was Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves in Tyendinaga, Ontario, where a number of the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks-including the main parts for Do not Leave Me Hanging, The Great Bear and With Every Departure were recorded amid haunting acoustics, stalactites and circling bats.
The violins were recorded at the Heliconian Club of Toronto, while the bass and drum tracks were largely recorded at the Chalet Studio just outside of Toronto, a unique chalet-style recording space located on 40 acres of rolling hills and trails, in proximity to the shores of Lake Ontario. The pastoral and elemental nature of these spaces surfaces throughout the album.
The title, A Forest Of Arms, is taken from album track The Great Bear, a song inspired by a trip Dekker firing to the northern rain forests of British Columbia in September 2013 with the World Wildlife Fund. It’s a pristine wilderness area that’s under threat of being compromised by the construction of a pipeline, and Dekker and the group have been very vocal in their opposition to it. In a broader sense, the title is a reference to the sense of community surrounding the Toronto-based band, as well as the band’s own growing families exhibited in the songs Something Like A Storm and Expecting You.
Great Lake Swimmers consists of Tony Dekker on lead vocals and guitar, longtime guitarist and banjo player Erik Arnesen, Miranda Mulholland on violin and backing vocals, Bret Higgins on upright bass and newcomer Joshua Van Tassel on drums. There are several at special guest appearances on the album by Kevin Kane (Grapes of Wrath) on 12-string electric guitar, as well as backing vocals on the song A Bird Flew Inside The House.
Recorded and engineered by Their longtime live sound technician Justin Shane Nace, and mixed by the wonderfully talented Howie Beck (Feist), A Forest Of Arms marks Dekker’s 8th release of new material. In 2013, he released the solo album Prayer of the Woods, and in 2014, he released a tribute album for the artist-loving digital music distribution site Zunior on the occasion of its tenth year anniversary, Tony Dekker Sings Entitled 10 Years Of Zunior. Last year saw their debut headlining performance at Toronto’s historic Massey Hall, which was documented for the Live At Massey Hall series. The band participated in the Polaris cover sessions with their version of Sarah Harmer’s I’m A Mountain.
Tour support comes from Meg Baird. Baird’s last decade would be remarkable by any artist’s standards. She co-founded and recorded three albums with Espers – one of the most distinctively mysterious acts of the century’s first decade. She recorded two solo LPs for Drag City: Dear Companion and Seasons on Earth. She also collaborated with Will Oldham, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Ettenand Steve Gunn, and toured with Bert Jansch.
And while Meg’s last official solo release came in 2011, the days since have been anything but restful. She played drums and recorded with Philadelphia cave punks Watery Love, toured with Michael Chapman, Hurley, Vile, Cass McCombs, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Lambchop, and contributed to compilation LPs honouring Michael Chapman and Shirley Collins. And after more than a decade as a fixture in Philadelphia’s boiling-over musical scene, Meg moved west to San Francisco. There she joined forces (as drummer and lead vocalist) with members of Comets on Fire and Assemble Head to form the moody and thunderous Heron Oblivion.