Great Lake Swimmers and Tim Baker share the stage July 6 at Peterborough’s Del Crary Park

Peterborough Musicfest shines the spotlight on the indie folk-rock genre by welcoming two of its most consistently successful contributors

Indie folk-rock musical artists Great Lake Swimmers and Tim Baker perform a free-admission concert at Del Crary Park on July 6, 2024 as part of Peterborough Musicfest's 37th season. (kawarthaNOW collage of artist photos)
Indie folk-rock musical artists Great Lake Swimmers and Tim Baker perform a free-admission concert at Del Crary Park on July 6, 2024 as part of Peterborough Musicfest's 37th season. (kawarthaNOW collage of artist photos)

Just three concerts into the 2024 season of Peterborough Musicfest, we’ve already seen a satisfying mix of music genres showcased at Del Crary Park.

Surely, sooner or later, Canadian indie folk-rock will find its way into the 16-concert lineup.

On Saturday, July 6th, sooner arrives in the form of a double bill featuring Great Lake Swimmers and Tim Baker as the 37th summer edition of Canada’s longest-running free multiple-date music festival continues.

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Formed in 2003 in sleepy Wainfleet Township in southern Niagara region, Great Lake Swimmers — featuring lead singer Tony Dekker up front — didn’t waste any time recording-wise, releasing its debut self-titled album that same year.

Recorded in a grain solo, the 10-track album promised very good things to come from the quintet and, two years later, that promise was realized with the release of the follow-up album Bodies and Minds, with the momentum continuing in 2007 with Ongiara.

Taking its name from the ferry that took the band to Toronto’s Centre Island where the album demo was recorded, Ongiara featured Millbrook’s own Serena Ryder doing a guest turn.

VIDEO: “Easy Come Easy Go” – Great Lakes Swimmers

Fuelled by the release of Lost Channels, again with Ryder along for the ride, Great Lake Swimmers really hit its stride in 2009. Recorded at various locales in and around the Thousand Islands, the record was nominated for a 2010 Juno Award as the Root and Traditional Album of the Year (Group) and was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize.

Three albums — New Wild Everywhere (2012), A Forest of Arms (2015), and The Waves, The Wake (2018) — followed, but it was five years before Great Lake Swimmers’ latest album, Uncertain Country, was released. The ambitious 15-track release that resulted from Dekker’s 2019 “reconnaissance” of nature’s splendour in the Lake Superior region.

True to the band’s penchant for recording in some in non-traditional recording locations, the album came together in historic churches and buildings in the Niagara region.

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“I’ve always been a firm believer in using the recording space as a member of the band,” revealed Dekker in a June 2023 interview with Stephen Boissonneault of Range Magazine.

“It’s one of the reasons this has been a throughline since the band’s incarnation — to add that extra sonic texture. I love abandoned buildings or places kind of forgotten to time.”

After the first recording session for the album in September 2020, the pandemic started to have an effect on what would ultimately prove to be the underlying theme of the end result.

“We were recording between lockdowns, with masks and social distancing, and I think we realized we wanted to just make music to make ourselves feel better,” recalled Dekker. “I wanted the album to be sort of calming; a soothing balm for all of the anxiety we were facing.”

VIDEO: “Promise Of Spring” – Great Lakes Swimmers

To be clear, recording in unusual locations is very much by design.

“I’m trying to celebrate the beauty of the environment while also being very concerned about its future and the state of it going forward,” said Dekker in a May 2023 interview with the Ottawa Citizen’s Lynn Saxberg.

“If we’re having a good day, and the band is playing well and listening to each other, there’s a certain feel that comes out of that. I can feel it on the recording (Uncertain Country). It’s something that’s been a through line with all our recordings, and it’s been really important to me.”

With performance dates on both sides of the border this summer, Dekker is excited to bring Great Lake Swimmers’ sound and spirit to the masses.

“It really feels great to be out there again, to be playing music and sharing it with people. I hope people haven’t completely forgotten about our band.”

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Meanwhile, if the name Tim Baker doesn’t immediately ring a bell, Hey Rosetta! should conjure up some very good memories.

From 2005 to 2017, Baker led the St. John’s/Labrador born band to a substantial and very dedicated following. That was kickstarted in 2007 following the late 2006 release of Plan Your Escape, the band’s debut full-length album, and then validated at the Music NL Awards with four category wins as Group of the Year, Pop/Rock Group of the Year, Album of the Year, and CBC Galaxie Rising Star of the Year.

Hey Rosetta! released three more albums — the Hawksley Workman-produced Into Your Lungs (2008), Seeds (2011), and Second Sight (2014) — before the band announced in October 2017 that it was taking “an indefinite hiatus.” That break eventually became permanent, but Baker wasn’t nearly done creating and embarked on a solo music career that continues to be most worthy of our collective attention.

VIDEO: “Some Day” – Tim Baker

Baker’s first solo album, Forever Overhead, was released in April 2019 and was longlisted for 2019 Polaris Music Prize. At the 2020 Juno Awards, he heard his name read as a nominee for the Songwriter of the Year statue for his songs “All Hands,” “Dance,” and “The Eighteenth Hole.”

Post-pandemic, Baker released his second album, The Festival, with “Lucky Few,” “Some Day,” and “Echo Park” among its notable tracks. He has since brought forth Along The Mountain Road, a five-track EP.

“The songs of Along The Mountain Road were written and recorded around the same time as The Festival, but while The Festival was primarily about dreaming my way through the pandemic, Along The Mountain Road represents another sort of lane of songs from that time, centring more on my journey of resettlement from Toronto back home to Newfoundland,” said Baker during an October 2023 chat with Jenna Melanson of Canadian Beats.

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The EP’s title track “is about the call of nature, of the forest, the coast, the past,” Baker added. “It’s about the dream of leaving the city and going back to the land — a dream that never seems to diminish in my mind. I never intended it to sound so epic, but sometimes a song just has to stretch out how it likes and you should just go along for the ride.”

In an April 2023 interview with Dillon Collins of Exclaim!, Baker reflected on his years with Hey Rosetta! and the solo career adjustment that followed.

“I worried non-stop, and made myself sick all the time from stress and trying to hold everything together. I would tell myself just to relax. It’s going to be OK. Like, it’s actually going to be OK. It is and it was. (Then) the worst, most inconceivable, thing happened: we ended up breaking up, disintegrating as a band. And then I came out of that OK.”

“I wouldn’t give anything up for the last five years of my own life, making my own music the way that I have. It has been wonderful. Just that you’re alright. The worry does nothing. It’s a waste. What do they say? You’re paying interest on something that you haven’t gotten. That’s what I would say.”

VIDEO: “All Hands” – Tim Baker

Peterborough Musicfest is presenting 16 free-admission concerts during its 37th season, each staged on Wednesday and Saturday nights until August 17th.

Overseen by executive director Tracey Randall and staff, a board of directors, and numerous volunteers, Peterborough Musicfest’s stated mission remains “to provide diverse, affordable live music to enrich cultural and economic prosperity in our community.”

For more information on this concert or the 2024 season, visit or phone the Peterborough Musicfest office at 705-755-1111.


kawarthaNOW is proud to be a headline sponsor of Peterborough Musicfest’s 2024 season.