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Tony Dekker’s music spans nearly two decades as the lead singer and songwriter of Great Lake Swimmers. Over eight albums, multiple EPs, live broadcasts and reissues, the Toronto based singer-songwriter has established himself as a beloved indie folk artist in his native Canada and beyond. 2013 marked the release of his first solo album, Prayer Of The Woods, which is described as “Folk music that sounds like it was recorded on the periphery between the living room and the surrounding woodland … a humble and traditional folk work, focusing on lyrical analogies and aphorisms” – (Norman Records UK).
Great Lake Swimmers’ record “The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic)” was released digitally on November 8th, 2019 by Nettwerk. A solo acoustic rendering of his band’s most recent album, pared back to acoustic guitar and vocals. No weighty production, no frills, just a haunting voice, lush acoustic guitars, and 12 songs presented in their most stark, minimalist forms. Dekker released a limited edition 12” vinyl format on his own Harbour Songs imprint which was made available through mail order and at live shows.
Great Lake Swimmers released a split 7” single with long-time collaborator Liz Hysen of Toronto band Picastro. “Getting To The Heart Of It” with “Where Are You” and “Thursday” which was released digitally on March 6th, 2020 by (weewerk) while the limited edition 7” vinyl format, Harbour Songs’ second physical release was offered via mail order.
Dekker also provided vocal support on the latest Picastro release, “Exit”, originally released this past November and which was re-released by (weewerk) on February 24th, 2020.
With the pandemic lockdown and cancelled tour dates to contend with in 2020 and beyond, Dekker focused on releasing a series of special releases under the Lockdown Series moniker and were made exclusively available on the Bandcamp platform. “Live In Ottawa At The 27 Club” recorded live in Ottawa, Ontario at The 27 Club on October 3, 2019 was digitally released on May 1, 2020. The mono soundboard feed was recorded by Ryan Palmer with a Tascam DR44WL. It was tweaked and mastered by Andy Magoffin at the House Of Miracles with cover artwork by Adam CK Vollick. “When We Last Shook Hands: Cover Songs Volume 1” was digitally released on June 5th, 2020. This collection of covers was recorded by Great Lake Swimmers over a period of roughly 12 years, between 2007 and 2019. Most of the songs have been released in one form or another as part of compilations, live sessions or album bonus tracks, but there are also a handful of songs which saw the light of day for the first time. The recordings are from such disparate sources as Studio 101 in New Orleans, Mailmen Studios in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and locations closer to home like The House Of Miracles in Ontario. The project was overseen by the bands long-time friend and collaborator, Andy Magoffin, who sonically glued it together and did the mastering. The artwork was created by Adam CK Vollick.
Great Lake Swimmers released a new live track “Your Rocky Spine (2007-04-14)” on Friday, February 25th in lead up to the release of their forthcoming live album entitled “Live At The Redeemer 2007”. This special live concert was released digitally and as a double LP version on (weewerk) on May 14th, 2021.
As the lead singer and songwriter for Great Lake Swimmers, Dekker has been nominated twice for Canada’s Juno Awards, shortlisted and longlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, and won a Canadian Indie Award for Favourite Folk/Roots Artist/Group. The band has shared the stage with such musical luminaries as Robert Plant, Feist, Daniel Lanois and Calexico, and have appeared as headliners at many of Canada’s major folk music festivals. The CBC has called them “a national treasure” with a sound that is at once familiar and distinct, using the tools of folk music as the starting point to delve deeper.
“Dekker’s preoccupation with the Canadian state of mind flourishes in his lyrics. Few songwriters are able to convey the country’s harsh beauty as well. …Canadian folk tradition personified in the 21st century” – Exclaim!
“Ambient Zen Americana” – Mojo
“A minimalist, atmospheric compendium of songs with a sonic environment the listener can easily get lost in.” – The Vue
“Dekker has done a masterful job of finding that balance on The Waves, the Wake, which has enough connections to the past to satisfy long-time fans of Great Lake Swimmers even while the singer looks to the future and moves forward as an artist.” – The Georgia Straight
“…Great Lake Swimmers have evolved into one of the country’s finest roots bands…” – Post City
Picastro began in Toronto in 1998 with Liz Hysen, Stephanie Vittas and Kurt Newman.
Since then, the band has continued in many forms with its current band members consisting of Liz Hysen, Nick Storring, Germaine Liu and Matthew Ramolo.
Picastro has toured extensively over the past 10 years in North America and Europe. Picastro has appeared on BBC radio, VPRO (Dutch national radio) and the venerable WFMU.
Picastro has also played a number of festivals including:
SXSW (Austin), CMJ (NYC), Incubate (Netherlands), Rhaaa Lovely (Belgium), Žedno Uho (Croatia), Tanned Tin (Spain), Suoni Per il Popolo (Montreal) and NXNE (Toronto).
The band has toured or played shows with:
Scout Niblett, Nadja, Cerberus Shoal, Xiu Xiu, Devendra Banhart, Marissa Nadler, Dwayne Sodahberk, Broken Social Scene and many other wonderful artists.
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