TVD Live: Patrick Sweany at Mahall’s, 7/2

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Maybe I have America Fever because it’s the Fourth of July weekend, but I felt pretty patriotic seeing Patrick Sweany at Mahall’s last week.

Although he’s most often associated with the blues, Sweany isn’t a bluesman at all. He’s everything that came after that which was inspired by the blues. The amalgamation of soul, blues, and country. A melting pot with of all those uniquely American styles. Rock ‘n’ Roll.

I fantasize that if you drive across the country on Route 66, get off at any exit in the middle of America and walk into a bar, this is the type of music you would hear. Sadly, you don’t. He represents some ideal that was true long ago, yellowing somewhere in a photograph or under an inch of dust on a record.

But here was Sweany, performing the American dream right there on stage. Most of it influenced by some of the giants of early blues, rock, country, and soul, but never coming off as derivative. While many artists try to show off their influences as a badge of honor, Sweany blends and makes these sounds something of his own.

Over the course of the two-hour show, Sweany stomped out songs from his extensive catalog of music, touching every single genre from his massive array of influences. Bluesy rocky? Check. Slow soul burn? Yup. Twangy country? Absolutely. ’50s rock? You got it. It was all there through a thick reverb that was irresistible to a music purist.

Some of the best music of the night was when Sweany was trading licks with his second guitar player, Zach Setchfield. Setchfield can really shred and I just wish there were more moments when him and Sweany went back and forth to show both of their ranges. Sadly, it only seemed like it happened during a few select songs. The highlight was early, when they played “It’s Spiritual” off Close to the Floor. It was awesome and the interplay between the two went on for what seemed like forever and I still could have sat through more.

Other highlights from the set were “Corner Closet,” “Your Man,” and the entire three-song portion of the set where it was just Sweany and his guitar playing solo. The solo section was really intense and was a nice moment in the evening where everyone could appreciate his songwriting craft.

It was a night where seemly everyone in this early-to-mid 30s who had nothing better to do just came down to the bowling alley to hear real music performed by an incredibly earnest performer. Sweany comes off as a “musician’s musician” where it takes a lot to appreciate what is going on in the intricate guitar playing and masterful songwriting, so it was encouraging that people just enjoy a night out to check out music like this.

People drinking beers, dancing; just having a good time. For a moment the American dream was alive and well. Rock, bowling alley, beers. God Bless America.

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