East meets West for a prog-rock jam band jamboree 

Who: The Jimmy Swift Band & Grand Theft Bus

Where: Boot Pub

When: Monday, May 12

Two bands from the far East Coast of Canada are making their inaugural pilgrimage to the "other" side and want you to join their funky force. If you’re a bit of a jam band fan, akin to experimental and progressive rock, jazz and blues fusions and basically like to boogie, you’re in for a real treat as the Jimmy Swift Band and Grand Theft Bus blow in for one night only.

These bands are perfect for small, intimate and friendly venues like the Boot. They constantly pack out similar vibe bars right across the east, from New Brunswick to Ontario, and are the file-sharing freaks’ favourite swap cards. Their music is intoxicating for just about anyone who wants to hear something new, something borrowed and something bound to get you moving.

Their crowds are eclectic to say the least, much like their set lists that can go from rock ’n’ roll to funk and even electronica with soundscape sampling throughout. From long haired hippies to rave kids and even hardcore rockers, these guys say they get them all.

In terms of the Jimmy Swift Band, some say their style is reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Maybe, as it is moody and atmospheric. Others say they’re more Phish sounding. Maybe again. Their long and layered instrumental moments do provide an interactive improv atmosphere.

But according to guitarist and vocalist, Craig Mercer, there is no spot-on description to saddle them with.

"To be honest, we’re not really trying to tailor our sound to any demographic or genre. The music we write just comes out like that. All four of us have different influences and I’d say we are an eclectic bunch so maybe that’s why our sound and our crowds are that way inclined as well," said Mercer.

Based in Halifax, but "pretty much based in the van" with more than 180 shows under their belt in the last year, the Jimmy Swift Band is touring the west on the strength of their recently released second album, Onward Through The Fog. The album is a soundtrack for moving forward with organic traditional instruments, memorable melodies and special effects arrangements that make you feel, well, just good. Plain and simple – even though the music is certainly not.

So who is Jimmy Swift? He’s a little bit of all of us. He’s a character that likes to go out and party that Mercer and bassist Mike MacDougall sang about in a previous band.

"We didn’t want to lose the crowd we’d developed when we formed a new band so we thought if we kept the link to the old band, people would still want to come see us. Turns out we were completely wrong and nobody knew or cared who Jimmy Swift was anyway, but the name stuck."

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