Clinton Swanson clearly remembers being in Grade 11, sitting in the midst of a 70-piece wind ensemble, practicing the same piece over and over, when suddenly he felt lifted.
“It was a spine-tingling moment, like I was elevated. I said ‘I think I can do this for the rest of my life’,” said the Nelson saxophone player, who eventually made good on the plan. He has since become a household name in the Kootenays, performing in a variety of different bands and ensembles.
Swanson is preparing to release new music through his company Big Fur Records in late 2014, and continuing into 2015.
“I’ve produced an archive close to 30, 40 songs. I’m going to release that through CD Baby, it will be distributed through iTunes and I’ll do some videos on YouTube,” he said.
But Nelson residents don’t have to wait for him to release the tracks, because he will be performing them live at multiple concerts in the coming months.
In September Swanson will be playing the rooftop party as part of the Queen City Cruise on September 5. He also has an after work dance party at Finley’s Irish Bar & Grill on September 26, a fundraiser concert for Nelson CARES on Friday, November 14 and a Christmas party at Spiritbar on December 13.
But the show he’s currently most thrilled about is the upcoming concert at the Charles Bailey Theatre in Trail, along with his good friend Kelly Fawcett.
“I started playing with Kelly in the late 80s, and we’ve been playing together on and off since. We love making music together,” he said.
Swanson is not only sharing his love of music with his audiences, he also teaches saxophone.
“To me, it’s a super personal instrument strictly because it’s very physical when you play it, you have to blow through it, it’s inside your mouth,” he said. “I tell my students all the time, it amplifies what you’re doing with your body. It sends out how you’re feeling because you’re so connected to that instrument.”
Swanson spent years studying the saxophone in Vancouver under Stan Karp. He lived there for 17 years, but ultimately returned with his wife, novelist Antonio Banyard.
“We had enough with Vancouver. Now I look back and wonder how I made it through that many years,” he said.
Swanson is currently participating in between five to ten musical projects, including three bands where he serves as the frontman: Hornography, Bessie & the Back Eddies and Below the Belt.
Swanson plays both live music and cover songs, though he specifies that he doesn’t typically do note-for-note adaptations, choosing rather to give each tune an individual flair.
“I used to play to be in a band, we played Steely Dan pretty much note for note. But these days I take a tune and I remake it,” he said.
But he’s moving away from covers to work on his original compositions. He’s written all original music for Hornography, and even invented a character named Bari the Booty.
“He’s a character I invented, a baritone sax player. He’s kind of like Prince meets Weird Al Yankovic,” he said.
“The great thing about Nelson is that there’s a lot of musicians here who want to play music and there’s a lot of people who want to listen. It’s a great combination. I always feel honoured and privileged to be a musician in this town and to make it work,” he said.
For more information, visit Clinton Swanson Live on Facebook.