A new album in the works and enough gigs to keep him out of trouble is making Point Edward’s Nic Swales a happy musician these days.
“Sarnia has a vibrant music scene,” says the 37-year-old, who’s been pursuing a solo career and playing with local bands for decades.
“There’s no fortune or fame here but it’s really nice to be part of what is going on. This is home and I’ve got history here.”
Swales, an electrician with Local 530 by day, likes nothing better than writing songs and performing by night. He describes his style as a hybrid of folk, pop and rock.
Growing up in Point Edward, he graduated from Bridgeview and SCITS and left briefly in 2007 to check out the musical possibilities in Halifax.
“I wanted to get myself out of my comfort zone,” said Swales.
It worked. In 13 short months, he released an EP called Sunny River, then a full CD named Bohemian Summer.
“That was 16 songs in one year with an independent studio called Denmark Productions,” he said.
But the lure of steady work brought him home where he was already an established musician.
He’s married now with no plans to leave any time soon and said he’s content to play solo or as part of the cover band “The Ropers” whenever he can.
Swales also says he shares a sense of responsibility when it comes to keeping Sarnia’s growing music culture alive.
“I think the reason it’s so strong is because younger generations see the commitment older musicians have made to stay here and immerse themselves in music.
“As time progresses, there’s more and more people willing to stay and the quality gets better and better,” he said.
Swales is ready to return to the studio with Adam Miner, owner of downtown’s DNA Studios, and record some newly-written songs for his next project. He’s got an eye on a CD release in the fall.
He’s also having a bit of fun working with his old high school band on the upcoming SCITS Alumni Revue slated for April 23.
Swales credits SCITS’ drama teacher Dan White for teaching him how to perform to a crowd way back when.
“The SCITS auditorium is where I really cut my teeth, doing the Revue every year in high school,” he said.
“Dan White taught me to sing to the back of the room.”
He’s rounding up his former bandmates known in the ‘90s as, “Hey, That’s My Bike,” and resurrecting some of their grunge tunes.
Meanwhile, his next gig is on First Friday when Swales performs solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica at The Cheeky Monkey record store.
“His style of songwriting and singing is warm and inviting,” says Mary Anne Peloza, owner of The Cheeky Monkey. “It leaves you wanting more.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Nic Swales free live show on First Friday
WHERE: Cheeky Monkey, 130 Christina St. North
WHEN: April 1; 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.