Ron "Ran" Waite Wing

In Concert: Ember Swift

Ember Swift and link. 

In Concert: Ember Swift
by Ran

I'm not gonna lie to ya, I LOVE THIS BAND! This Canadian band, Ember Swift, is a frequent visitor to the CNY area and should not be missed--ever! They have the look, the sound, and the songs that many OUT musicians can only aspire to be as good as. On September 2, 2006 they performed at Jazz Central in downtown Syracuse, NY. It was rainy night, but this evening's show was a hoot, with Ember Swift (guitar/vocals/band name sake), Lyndell Montgomery (bass/violin/backing vocals, and Cheryl Reid (drums/backing vocals). It has been a few years since I've seen one of their full band shows (often is just Ember and Lyndell). This performance was promoting their ninth CD, "The Dirty Pulse."

Opening for the band was Melody Kelly and Bill Churnoff. Each played an acoustic guitar, and accompanied the five deadpan, monotone songs that Melody sang and then they exited. Sorry, but I couldn't find many redeeming factors in their performance. Just because a person has a CD for sale, doesn't mean that they're talented.

Eventually Ember Swift took the stage, and I woke up! Ms. Swift, sporting a new short hairdo, remarked, "Thanks for not being at the Fair." Their first song was "Witness," a funky, mid-tempo number. The second song "Ease" was sung in both French and English--ohh la la, with some incredible electric violin flourishes in it. Upon reflecting about where she was, Ember said "I think we need to play some jazz at Jazz Central," and launched into "Elbows," from their 2000 release. Ember told us about a crazy porn book that she is reading, Lyndell told us about a little mining town that they stopped at because they had to go pee ("Bliss"), her wonder at the sound of her own voice, and her collection of roller derby outfits, plus Ember told us about their collective efforts toward recycling, Canada's new conservative prime minister, hope, and the way that she supports the troops. It was a very interactive show, among the kidding that they did of each other, they also shared other songs from the new CD including "Affluence Disease, "Mental Breakdown," "Ten Pin," and "Thirteen."

"Some Fine Day" was a standout of the evening, it was played very creatively. All three musicians started the song, one stopped, then just the bass and drums, another stopped playing, then just the drums, and finally no instrumentation at all, just the vocals. It was special. They ended the show with a middle-eastern inspired instrumental song entitled "Peace." I don't know how they did it, but they made it sound as if there was an entire orchestra accompanying them.

Ember is a wonderful song writer. Her lyrics are clever, timely and cover a gamut of topics. No matter the subject matter, her music stirs the soul and makes you want to listen to every word. Ember has a beautiful voice and Lyndell makes magic happen with the electric violin. They sing, they dance, and they make beautiful music together--they are incredibly entertaining. At the end, Ember said, "thank you for coming out and not the pouring rain." Giggle. They then came to the front of the performance area, joined hands and bowed together. You can find the Ember Swift band online at

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