AmericanaFest always amazes me: such an incredible collection of roots music showcases, where it is impossible to catch every “must see” show. I quickly discovered in 2010 that I have two favorite venues, The Station Inn and The Basement, and when debating which performances to catch, I stay put in one of those locations. This completely unscientific method is how I caught Patrick Sweany‘s showcase at Americana 2011. I did not think I could make it to another venue and back to catch a show during his same time slot, so, even though Sweany was not on my obsessively plotted “grid” or even on my radar musically, I stuck around and was blown away. For me, that experience is what makes this particular music festival stellar; I always find my new favorite band by happenstance.

Patrick Sweany grew up near Akron, Ohio, and spent nearly a decade playing regular local gigs there and in his first foray to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with a jaunt as opening act and van driver on another band’s national tour. Sweany’s immersion in deep blues began very early, though, with jugband music and Piedmont blues bonding him with his father. His dad gave him his first guitar, taught him some chords, and took him to a nearby high school auditorium to hear bluegrass, as well as to the Kent (Ohio) Folk Festival, where Sweany ultimately attended college on the six-year plan. Patrick moved to Nashville relatively late, in his view, saying, “Everyone came here ten years before I did.” With roots ranging from blues to bluegrass, Sweany’s music manages to maintain an earthy, melodic blues tone, but where he really shines is in live performance.

Patrick Sweany’s live show makes his music. Combining the showmanship of James Brown (without the dance moves) with a Springsteen-like rock intensity, Patrick Sweany’s charisma engaged the too-cool Nashville fans who refuse to even bob their heads. He nailed it. While I really enjoy his last record, That Old Southern Drag, to truly capture how incredible he is, you must experience him performing for a crowd. From the interplay with the audience and his band, to the passion with which he shares his songs, Patrick Sweany is one of those guys you must see live. In the words of former band mate, Dan Auerbach, and even earlier by the blogger for Now This Sound Is Brave, “I can’t figure out why this guy isn’t world famous.”

There are extensive outtakes from this interview posted on SoundCloud.

Songs in Episode #1213 include:

  • “Them Shoes” from Patrick Sweany’s Dan Auerbach-produced album, Every Hour Is A Dollar Gone
  • “Sleeping Bag” and “Oh! Temptation” from Sweany’s recent release, That Old Southern Drag (produced by Scott McEwan and Joe McMahon)
  • “Keep a Knockin'” Buddy Holly’s Crickets
  • “I’m Done” Jimbo Mathus
  • “The Finer Things” Derek Hoke
  • “Gloryland” Kevin Gordon
  • One from Episode 1214, Angela Easterling “Happy Song” from Beguiler