Great Lake Swimmers – Biography

Tony Dekker’s music spans nearly two decades as the lead singer and songwriter of Great Lake Swimmers. Over eight albums, multiple EPs, live broadcasts and reissues, the Toronto based singer-songwriter has established himself as a beloved indie folk artist in his native Canada and beyond. 2013 marked the release of his first solo album, “Prayer Of The Woods”, which is described as “Folk music that sounds like it was recorded on the periphery between the living room and the surrounding woodland … a humble and traditional folk work, focusing on lyrical analogies and aphorisms” -(Norman Records UK).

Dekker’s latest release as Great Lake Swimmers, “The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic)” is a solo acoustic rendering of his band’s most recent album, pared back to acoustic guitar and vocals. No weighty production, no frills, just a haunting voice, lush acoustic guitars, and 12 songs presented in their most stark, minimalist forms.

Released digitally on November 8th, 2019 by Nettwerk, Tony decided to press a limited edition 12” vinyl format on his own Harbour Songs imprint which was made available through mail order and at live shows to enthusiastic fans.

An upcoming split 7” single of new material is also planned with long-time collaborator Liz Hysen of Toronto band Picastro. “Getting To The Heart Of It” with “Where Are You” and “Thursday” will be released digitally on March 6th, 2020 by (weewerk) while the limited edition 7” vinyl format, Harbour Songs’ second physical release, will be offered via mail order and at live shows including their upcoming European solo tour this spring.

Dekker also provides vocal support on the latest Picastro release, “Exit”, originally released this past November and rereleased by (weewerk) on February 24th, 2020.

As the lead singer and songwriter for Great Lake Swimmers, Dekker has been nominated twice for Canada’s Juno Awards, shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Prize, and won a Canadian Indie Award for Favourite Folk/Roots Artist/Group. They have shared the stage as support for such musical luminaries as Robert Plant, Feist, Daniel Lanois, and Calexico, and have appeared as headliners at many of Canada’s major folk music festivals. The CBC has called them “a national treasure” with a sound that is at once familiar and distinct, using the tools of folk music as the starting point to delve deeper.

Press Quotes:
“Dekker’s preoccupation with the Canadian state of mind flourishes in his lyrics. Few songwriters are able to convey the country’s harsh beauty as well. …Canadian folk tradition personified in the 21st century” – Exclaim!

“Ambient Zen Americana” – Mojo

“A minimalist, atmospheric compendium of songs with a sonic environment the listener can easily get lost in.” – The Vue

 “Dekker has done a masterful job of finding that balance on The Waves, the Wake, which has enough connections to the past to satisfy long-time fans of Great Lake Swimmers even while the singer looks to the future and moves forward as an artist.” – The Georgia Straight

“…Great Lake Swimmers have evolved into one of the country’s finest roots bands…” – Post City

Artist Online Link:

Complete Discography:
Great Lake Swimmers (weewerk, 2003)
Bodies and Minds (weewerk, 2005)
Ongiara (Nettwerk, 2007)
Lost Channels (Nettwerk, 2009)
New Wild Everywhere (Nettwerk, 2012)
Tony Dekker – Prayer Of The Woods (Nettwerk, 2013) – solo release
A Forest Of Arms (Nettwerk, 2015)
The Waves, The Wake (Nettwerk, 2018)
The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic) (Nettwerk, 2019)

Hands in Dirty Ground (weewerk, 2006)
Live at the Church of the Redeemer (Nettwerk, 2007)
The Legion Sessions (Nettwerk, 2009)
Swimming Away (Nettwerk, 2016)
They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore (Nettwerk 2017)

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”.
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)
Music For Little Hipsters (2013) “See You On The Moon” on Rhino Records

Song Sung Blue (original film score, weewerk / Nettwerk, 2008)

Awards / Nominations
2013 Juno Awards – Nominated for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group
2012 Polaris Music Prize – Long List for album New Wild Everywhere 2010 Juno Awards – Nominated for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group
2010 Canadian Indie Awards – Won for Favourite Folk/Roots Artist/Group
2009 Polaris Music Prize – Short List for album Lost Channels


Artist Links