Meet the Band: Patrick Sweany (guitar, vocals)
Hometown Hero: Sweany grew up in Massillon. His dad was a finger-style guitar player, and he got into the music through his record collection. "I was really, really into country blues and traditional blues stuff," he says. Sweany got to know the late, great Robert Lockwood Jr., a blues icon from Northeast Ohio. He gave him a good tip. "I got to play a Robert Johnson song for him sitting knees to knees. He said, 'That was a great story, but that's an old story.' I was devastated. In a grandfatherly way, he was talking about songwriting and telling me to write about the people I knew in my life and tell my own story. That's the best advice anyone could give you." After that, Sweany says he decided he wouldn't play anyone else's music unless it was just for fun. Sweany, who moved to Nashville in 2008, has been putting out records and touring since 1999.
A Keys Connection: Sweany met Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach through Auerbach's dad Chuck, who used to come to his Monday night residency in Kent in the late '90s. Like Sweany, Dan Auerbach was a fan of Chicago blues guitarist Hound Dog Taylor. "We played together a bit," he says. "I was just doing bar gigs and then I started doing more original music. He started the Keys and I remember listening to the rough mixes of the Black Keys' first album, The Big Come Up, and five years later he was still in Akron and offered to produce my record." The resulting record, 2007's Every Hour is a Dollar Gone, showed off Sweany's garage blues side. It wasn't a huge hit but did get some traction on Pandora, where it shows up alongside bands such as the Black Keys and the White Stripes.
Why You Should Hear Him: Producer and engineer Joe McMahan helmed Sweany's new album, Daytime Turned to Nighttime, a low-key collection of tunes that suggests Sweany's mellower side. With its cooing background vocals and twangy guitars, album opener "First of the Week," for example, has a laid-back vibe to it. "I feel like I made four rock records in a row and was moving away from the finger style and acoustic-guitar style approach," Sweany says when asked about his approach on the album. "That's what I started with. It's what makes me unique and differentiates me. I worked really hard studying to attain this blues pedigree, for lack of a better word. For this album, we have a really funky rhythm section. I wanted to concentrate on singin' rather than shoutin.' I just thought the record could use some softer strokes."
Where You Can Hear Him: patricksweany.com.
Where You Can See Him: Patrick Sweany performs with Lilly Hiatt at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Musica in Akron.