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Great Lake Swimmers on Wikipedia
Great Lake Swimmers
Great Lake Swimmers.jpgPerforming at the Burlington Sound of Music festival
Background information
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresFolk rock, Indie
Years active2003 (2003)–present
Labels(weewerk), Nettwerk
Associated actsSiskiyou, Barzin, Audiotransparent, Julie Fader, The Roaring Girl Cabaret
MembersTony Dekker
Erik Arnesen
Joshua Van Tassel
Miranda Mulholland
Bret Higgins
Past membersDarcy Yates
Julie Fader
Colin Huebert
Mike Overton
Sandro Perri
Greg Millson

Great Lake Swimmers is a Canadian band built around the melodic folk rock songs of singer-songwriter Tony Dekker. Originally from Wainfleet, Ontario,[1] the band is currently based in Toronto.

The current touring line-up includes Tony Dekker on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica, Erik Arnesen on banjo, electric guitar and harmonium, Joshua Van Tassel on drums, Bret Higgins on upright bass and Miranda Mulholland on violin and backing vocals. Past members included Julie Fader on backing vocals, Sandro Perri on guitar, and Greg Millson and Colin Huebert on drums.

The band's style has been compared to Red House Painters, Nick Drake, Iron & Wine and Neil Young,[2] as well as Will Oldham[3] (Bonnie "Prince" Billy) and Sufjan Stevens.[4] Dekker has said his influences include Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.[5]


  • 1 History
  • 2 Discography
    • 2.1 Albums
    • 2.2 EPs
    • 2.3 Singles
    • 2.4 Compilations
    • 2.5 Soundtrack
    • 2.6 Other
  • 3 Awards
    • 3.1 Canadian Indie Awards
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


The band released two albums, Great Lake Swimmers in 2003 and Bodies and Minds in 2005, on the independent label (weewerk) before signing to the larger Nettwerk in 2007.

The band released its third full-length album, Ongiara, on March 27, 2007 in Canada and in May for the rest of the world. Although signing to Nettwerk early in 2007, Great Lake Swimmers continue to be managed by (weewerk). In September 2007, (weewerk) released a limited edition vinyl version of Ongiara. It was available in Australia through native indie label Speak N Spell.

Their fourth album, Lost Channels, was released on March 31, 2009. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize,[6] and was nominated for a Juno Award, in the category of Roots & Traditional Album of the Year – Group, and a Canadian Folk Music Award.

In 2009 Great Lake Swimmers took part in an interactive documentary series called City Sonic. The series, which featured 20 Toronto artists, had Tony Dekker talk about his daily underground commute along Toronto’s subway system.[7] In 2011, Dekker participated in the documentary series National Parks Project, visiting Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia with filmmaker Keith Behrman and musicians Daniela Gesundheit and Old Man Luedecke.

The band's fifth studio album, New Wild Everywhere, was released on April 3, 2012.[8] The band also composed an instrumental soundtrack for photographer Ian Coristine's One in a Thousand, an e-book of photography from the Thousand Islands region of Ontario, also released in April 2012.[9]

Dekker released a solo album, Prayer of the Woods, in October 2013.[10] The album includes eight original songs as well as covers of Gordon Lightfoot's "Carefree Highway" and Human Sexual Response's "Land of the Glass Pinecones".[10] In 2014 he followed up with Sings 10 Years of Zunior, an album of covers of other Canadian artists — including Old Man Luedecke, Chad VanGaalen, Christine Fellows, Ohbijou, Rae Spoon, Matt Mays, Martin Tielli, Jennifer Castle and Cadence Weapon — released to mark the 10th anniversary of Canadian web music store Zunior.[11]

The sixth studio album by the full band, A Forest of Arms, was released on April 21, 2015.[12]



  • Great Lake Swimmers (weewerk, 2003)
  • Bodies and Minds (weewerk, 2005)
  • Ongiara (Nettwerk, 2007)
  • Lost Channels (Nettwerk, 2009)
  • New Wild Everywhere (Nettwerk, 2012)
  • A Forest of Arms (Nettwerk, 2015)


  • Hands in Dirty Ground (weewerk, 2006)
  • Live at the Church of the Redeemer (Nettwerk, 2007)
  • The Legion Sessions (Nettwerk, 2009)
  • Swimming Away (2016)


  • See You on the Moon! (2005): "See You on the Moon!"
  • The Sound the Hare Heard (2006): "Where in the World Are You"
  • Borrowed Tunes II: A Tribute to Neil Young (2007): "Don't Cry No Tears"
  • Peace on Earth (2007): "Gonna Make It Thru This Year"
  • Northern Songs: Canada's Best and Brightest (2008): "Your Rocky Spine"
  • (weewerk) is 6! (2008): "Song for the Angels (Miracle Version)", "Gonna Make It Thru This Year". (Dekker also appears as a guest musician on tracks by Audiotransparent, Julie Fader and United Steel Workers of Montreal.)
  • Friends in Bellwoods II (2009): "Send Me a Letter"
  • Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (2009): "Our Mother the Mountain"
  • A Country Blues Christmas: The 2010 Zunior Holiday Album (2010): "When the Snow Starts to Fall"
  • Paint it Black: An Alt-Country Tribute to the Rolling Stones (2011): "Before They Make Me Run"
  • Have Not Been the Same - Vol. 1: Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die (2011): "What Was Going Through My Head" (The Grapes of Wrath cover)
  • My Name Is Mathias (2014): "The Things That People Make (Part 3)"


  • This is not like home (Silver Road, 2007)
  • Your Rocky Spine (Weeds, 3x06 Grasshopper, 2007)
  • Passenger Song (Numb3rs, 5x08 Thirty-Six Hours, 2008)
  • Song Sung Blue (original film score, weewerk, 2008)
  • There Is a Light (The Light of Family Burnam, 2008)
  • I Could Be Nothing (Personal Effects), 2010)
  • Leave It Behind (Personal Effects), 2010)


In 2006, the band released a "digital box set" on Zunior, consisting of their first two albums, the limited edition Hands in Dirty Ground EP, several digital tour photos and the video for their song "To Leave It Behind" on a 512 MB USB flash drive.[14]

In 2008, Dekker appeared on Jenny Omnichord's album Charlotte or Otis: Duets for Children, Their Parents and Other People Too, performing a duet vocal on the song "Do You Know Karate".

In 2009 the band released a limited double 7" vinyl split single with the Dutch band Audiotransparent. This release includes a cover of the Elvis Presley classic "Don't Be Cruel" and the original song "Send Me a Letter". Dekker and Arnesen also appear on the Audiotransparent song "You Are a Movie".

In 2010, the band contributed four tracks to the online music community Swim Drink Fish Music, including live versions of their songs "Your Rocky Spine", "I Could Be Nothing" and "Everything Is Moving So Fast" and a previously unreleased track, "Ballad of a Fisherman's Wife".

The song "Moving Pictures Silent Films" was featured in the August 8, 2011 episode of Warehouse 13, entitled "3...2...1..."


  1. ^ Van Evra, Jennifer. "Songs to dive into", The Globe and Mail, 2007-03-30, p. R4.
  2. ^ "Inspired by nature to pen songs", Evening Chronicle, 2007-04-11, p. 2.
  3. ^ Wilson, Carl. "Pop", The Globe and Mail, 2003-01-18, p. R20.
  4. ^ Pidd, Helen. "Review: Pop: The Great Lake Swimmers", The Guardian, 2007-05-04, p. 42.
  5. ^ McDowell, Adam. "Still learning to swim", National Post, 2005-04-02, p. TO4.
  6. ^ Polaris Music Prize – The 2009 Short List
  7. ^
  8. ^ Great Lake Swimmers: "Easy Come Easy Go". Exclaim!, January 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "Great Lake Swimmers Pen Original Score for New E-Book". Exclaim!, March 14, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Great Lake Swimmers Frontman Tony Dekker Goes Solo for 'Prayer of the Woods'". Exclaim!, August 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "First Play: Tony Dekker sings 10 years of Zunior" Archived 2016-03-01 at the Wayback Machine.. CBC Music, July 29, 2014.
  12. ^ Song Premiere: Great Lake Swimmers - "Zero In The City". Paste, February 2, 2015.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Zunior
  15. ^ Jessica Lewis (March 15, 2010). "Constantines, Joel Plaskett, Metric, Great Lake Swimmers Honoured at CMW Indie Awards". Exclaim. 

External links

  • Great Lake Swimmers official website
  • Great Lake Swimmers on (weewerk) Records

Upcoming Live Shows

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Great Lake Swimmers has 11 upcoming shows:

Park Theatre (Winnipeg, Canada)Buy Tickets
Hume Hotel (Nelson, Canada)Buy Tickets

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