Swift Years
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Swift Years

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
Band Folk World


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"Luminous live in Lunenburg"

"Swift Years could not have been a better choice(...) They leaped into their opening tune already glowing with musical heat (...) beginning slow, speeding up and finishing just short of breaking the sound barrier."
- Stephen Pedersen - Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia

"Food for thought..."

"Crazed Balkan hillbilly music from local anarcho-folkies Patrick Hutchinson, Bob Cussen and Suzanne Ungar. Hotter than a plate of pierogis, cooler than the sour cream on the side. ****"

- Mary Lamey - The Gazette, Montreal

"Folk institution admits Three"

The word eclectic does not even come close to describing what goes on when these three people come together. The common threads throughout the genres on display here are humor and great musicianship. Not content to relax or play anything safe, everything is done with break-neck energy and virtuosity. ...Diversity is the name of the game....band-composed tracks...(and)...plenty of styles of traditional tunes, ranging from Breton to Irish to Russian. Scotland's great son, Robbie Burns is represented, reggae-style...I would imagine an evening with this group would make for a fantastic experience.... - Sing Out Magazine

""Hour" latest album"

Joe's Report From the Afterlife Local traditionalists Swift Years offer another smorgasbord of musical stylings ranging from Celtic and Eastern European to jug band and bluegrass with their fourth release. This well-blended collection of 12 traditional and original songs is exquisitely executed thanks to the combined talents of guitarist Patrick Hutchinson, bassist Suzanne Ungar and Bob Cussen on mandolin and banjo. There's no lack of humour on this fine piece of work, as heard on Old Man Santo Had a Farm, an ironic commentary on contemporary food production done to the tune of Old MacDonald. And then there's the title song, a tribute to Joe Strummer, who sends an amusing message from the afterlife with a solid reggae beat. This is choice, quality stuff from this talented Montreal trio. - Martin Siberok - Hour, Montreal


What do you get if a Hungarian gypsy lands in the Deep South and joins a Celtic band playing mandolin? Montreal's Swift Years. This trio (mandolin, guitar, bass) are equally at home playing bluegrass and jigs as they are reinterpreting gypsy melodies or writing their own comedic songs. What makes Swift Years unique is the humour they approach their material with - both the lyrical and the instrumental. It is blatant in the lyrics of songs such as "I Dreamed I Stopped Smoking" where the singer receives the gift of a pot farm, and passive in the instrumentals where you'd swear the musicians broke into wide grins as they recorded...

- Brent Hagerman - Exclaim! (!@#$%^&*) Canada's Music Authority

"Magic Eccentricity en français"

Trio de folk (celtique, tzigane et amérique) à l'exentricité magique. Cosmopolitisme résume leur ouverture sans frontière. Déjà qu'ils-elle sont d'origines européennes diverses (Hongrie, Écosse, etc.), que leurs expériences les ont fait jouer blues, reggae-ska, folk et chanson avec bien du monde, que Montréal les habite, que leur virtuosité ne sert qu'à allumer humour et gouaille... Guitare, mandoline/banjo et basse sont les outils pour bourgeonner des trucs qui grouillent; telles La banqueroute d'Oscar Thiffault, des pièces traditionnelles ré-éclairées ou des compos inimitables de gouaille- Couldn't we?

- Ramon Vitesse - Le Couac, Montreal


Swift Years (2000)
Démo (2002)
Three (2004)
Joe's Report from the Afterlife (2006)

Cuts from all four albums have received airplay on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and various college/community stations.

Swift Years also produced, arranged, and accompanied Belfast Andi on his album All That Glitters (2004, www.belfastandi.com), and frequently perform with him.



SWIFT YEARS is the happy result of a chance encounter of three musicians who between them have played everything from Bluegrass to Reggae, via East European, Celtic and North African folk. The treatments of traditional material are marked by musical intensity and adventurous spirit, and the original compositions combine this with playful/serious lyrics that turn a satirical eye inwards as well as outwards.
They have entertained audiences of all shapes, sizes, ages and persuasions (in English and in French!), though on occasion have been reprimanded by the Folk Police for having too much fun. Swift Years have a sincere love for traditional music; but as a living changing entity rather than a museum exhibit, much in the spirit of the likes of Steeleye Span and Los Lobos.
BOB CUSSEN plays the mandolin (and anything else with strings) like a man with centuries worth of music inside him and only one lifetime to let it all out, his road-worn old Gibson always on the verge of spontaneous combustion. Montreal-based and of German/Hungarian descent, he was the founding member and leader of the White River Bluegrass Band, which, over the course of twelve years, produced three recordings, six European tours and made appearances at festivals, concerts and clubs across the U.S. and Canada, from the Western Arctic to the Magdalene Islands. He went on to become the 1985 U.S. Midwest Irish banjo champion. From 1992 to 1999 he appeared with his band the Immigrants, also known as Nobody You Know, playing extensively in the U.S. and Canada, producing several recordings. As well as Swift Years he is a mainstay of the Montreal Irish scene where he performs with singer-songwriter Belfast Andi. He also occasionally plays with Notre Dame de Grass. Bob has collaborated with a great many artists, including Tom Paxton, Jean Leloup, Kate and McGarrigle, Plume Latraverse, Karen Young, Michel Faubert, Lawrence Lepage, Claude Lafrance, Georges Langford, Garolou, Ian Tamblyn and the Venezuelan instrumental group Çavana. He has appeared on numerous CBC recordings, as well as many TV shows in Canada, Germany and Hungary. He has also recorded for the National Film Board.
PATRICK HUTCHINSON grew up in remote parts of rural Scotland and England, before coming to Montreal in 1978 with a box of punk-rock 45s and an incomprehensible accent. Formative influences were his parents' love of folk/world music, and John Peel every night on BBC radio who could go from the Buzzcocks to the Bothy Band and Little Feat to Lee Perry without batting an eyelid. As a tasty, soulful, ensemble-minded guitarist he tips his hat to the likes of Ry Cooder, Steve Cropper, and Richard Thompson. Patrick was an original member of Top Ranking (Montreal's first ska band) in the 1980s, and half of minimalist torch-and-twang duo Bare Bones in the '90s, putting out several well-received albums and gigging extensively both alone and with the likes of Johnny Clegg, Procul Harum and Ani Difranco.
SUZANNE UNGAR embodies the bass virtues of talking softly and carrying a big stick. Whereas bass players tend to be in the background in folk acts, Suzanne's silk-and-steel basslines are an essential up-front part of the Swift Years sound. Born in Budapest, Hungary, she lived in Europe and California before establishing herself in Montreal. She studied piano and classical guitar, before concentrating on the electric bass and becoming a part of the Montreal folk scene in the 1970's. She performed with the Jay Sewall Blues Band and the Celtic trio Anam Cara, and was member of the folk/rock group Harlequin for a number of years, as well as the R&B/pop group Random Hush. Suzanne has also performed and recorded with the New York artist Barbara Lewis and also the Irish/Gaelic singer Beverley McGuire.
For more, including five more music samples of Swift Years' Bluegrass, Gypsy, Celtic, Québecois and original repertoire, please visit: