The Thirsty Monks
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The Thirsty Monks

Thunder Bay, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Thunder Bay, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Pop Funk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Thirsty Monks - New Thunder Bay Band is Making their Mark"

Despite forming just a few months ago, things are going pretty smoothly for Thunder Bay funk-rockers the Thirsty Monks.

"We feel that everybody is doing what they naturally do best," singer/bassist Jennifer Swistun-Wolski says about the group. "No one's pushing, no one's pulling, no one's navigating, no one's dictating...when you don't have to put much effort towards something and you find your gaining a lot of momentum, it's really cool".

There are likely a few reasons for that feeling of effortlessness, says drummer Bernhard Wolski. One of them is the simple fact that that everybody in the band gets along. "There is just a certain chemistry, and you can see it on stage".

And then there is the sound. The Thirsty Monks are working on positioning themselves as a funk/dance band, mixing in bits of rock, jazz, and blues to create what Wolski calls their "go-go-go songs".

It's all lead to good things for the members of Thirsty Monks which also include Richard Tribe, Mike Kennedy, Mary Walker, and Erik Larson. They have seen doors opening for gigs, formed freindships with other bands, and they have built a following among show-goers in the city.

"What I believe the Thirsty Monks do, is they cater to the people who are there," Swistun-Wolski says. "No matter if you are sitting you can enjoy it. If you are dancing, you can enjoy it. If you are there with a date you can enjoy it, I hope".

As for the future, the band has its sights set on playing some festival slots next summer. But the immediate goal is to get into the studio this fall to do some recording. "We have nine original songs," Swistun-Wolski says. "We are going to do all of the album off the floor, which has been a dream of ours, because we want to give it a very live feel."

The goal is to have a as-yet-unnamed album ready by next spring. Meanwhile, among the band's upcoming gigs will be an appearance at this year's Tumblestone Festival, taking place August 25-26. - Kris Ketonen - The Walleye Thunder Bay Arts & Culture (July 2017)

""It's Only Rock & Roll and She Likes it""

Looking back, a Thunder Bay, ON artist’s most favorite musical experiences stemmed from sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor of a home situated in the Manitoba hamlet of Olha, till all hours in the morning.

Today, Jennifer Swistun- Wolski still plays into the early morning hours with two bands including The Angies – an all female Rolling Stones tribute band – and attempting a new sound with The Thirsty Monks – a funk/rock/instrumental group of six including husband Bernie Wolski, both based in that Ontario city.

The Angies was the brain- child of drummer Jennifer McPhail. She handpicked each one of the females in the group, formed out of a collec- tive passion for the Stones and for playing music to- gether as a group of talented women. The band includes members of Fools in the Rain, Loose Cannon, Morning Light, Drop Down, and in Swistun- Wolski’s case, The Thirsty Monks.

“While we enjoy playing all eras of the Stones’ music, it’s the early, heavily blues influenced period that has provided The Angies with the most inspiration and creativity,” said Jennifer. “I would love to quote Keith Richards, if you don’t know the blues ... there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock’n roll or any other form of popular music.”

Band mates of McPhail (drums) and Swistun-Wolski (bass, vocals) are Nancy Free- born (vocals), Sammy Chong (lead guitar), and Mary Walker (rhythm guitar, vocals). The group just placed first in the Thunder Bay Blues Challenge, qualifying for a trip to Memphis, TN for the 2018 International Blues Competition from Jan. 16-20, featuring more than 260 blues acts from around the world.

Upon playing Ukrainian Polka music in the family’s home, a bass player was needed, prompting a young girl to strike a chord, enriching not only her life, but also many others. Swistun-Wolski has always kept an open mind in wanting to learn more as the journey of life, love and luster continues to bring enrichment through music.
well as other surprises to help set the mood and bring us all back to the ‘70s,” shared Jennifer. “It’s quite the honour to win the challenge, which will also see us playing in the 2018 Thunder Bay Blues Festival with dates still to be announced.”

The 34-year-old artist who has followed her first album ‘Jennifer Swistun: The Road’ released in 2001, with ‘Neon Blunt: Bugsy’ in 2011 and ‘The Thirsty Monks: Brother When I Get Down’ in 2017, fondly remembers her beginning, reflecting frequently on her roots.

Today, Swistun-Wolski is working for the Ministry of Government & Consumer Services in the Production and Verification Branch in the northern Ontario city of Thunder Bay, enjoying married life with husband Bernhard (Bernie) Wolski, whom she met at Brandon University while taking her four- year undergrad in Brandon. Soon after, the pair started working on music together and have not looked back since upon moving east.

“As an older artist, I have had the privilege to work with many amazing individuals that have shaped my way of thinking,” stated Jennifer. “I continue to challenge my- self by taking on new tasks and learning from both young and old.”
She said that perhaps The Thirsty Monks are best known for their song lyrics, which feature vivid imagery and inventive wordplay. The philosophy behind the music encourages good vibes and a feeling of joy that forces the audience to get up and dance. The music is unmistakable, unique, loose-limbed, while simultaneously groovy and bold. With dizzying arrangements of funk, ska, soca and jazz influences, The Thirsty Monks are quickly earning a reputation of becoming one of the most exciting and high- energy music experiences to hit the stage in Northern Ontario. Joining the couple are Mary Walker (vocals), Erik Larson (guitar), Mike Kennedy (saxophone) and Richard Alan Bryce Tribe (key- boards).

Often Swistun-Wolski reflects on how much the people of the Parkland community have shaped who she is as an individual. It is not un- common for her family to host potlucks, organize musical fundraisers, and perform at local community shows. It’s here where the people ask them, why is there so much food everywhere? And where do you come from again? Followed by, thank you for making us feel so welcome!
“It is truly the hospitality of the people back home that has allowed me to become the entertainer that I am today,” stressed Jennifer, believing her musical attributes started with her grandfather Mike Swistun, followed by her father Bill Swistun. Her Grandfather Micheal Swistun performed illusions that astounded rural crowds across the West during the 1920s when he toured many small towns each win- ter. He also provided the Ukrainian music for the dances, which followed his performances.” With her father carrying on the tradition of playing the cymballa (hammered dulcimers), he also fell in love with the idea of modern instruments and taught himself guitar and bass.

Picking up the bass guitar as young girl, Jennifer Swistun-Wolski has reaped success on her own talent. It is truly the hospitality of the people back home that has allowed me to become the entertainer I am today. - Darrell Nessbitt - Crossroads (Sept 2017)


2011 - Bugsy - NeonBlunt & The Thirsty Monks

2017 -  Pickled in the Basement - The Thirsty Monks



The Thirsty Monks are a musical group that have an ultimate full bodied sound.This sound is unmistakable: unique, loose-limbed, while simultaneously groovy and bold. Mixing aspects of an improvisational jam band with dizzying arrangements of funk, ska, soca and jazz influences. The Thirsty Monks are quickly earning a reputation as one of the most exciting and high energy music experiences to ever hit the stage.  The Thirsty Monks are perhaps best known for their lyrics which feature vivid imagery and inventive wordplay.  The philosophy behind the music of Thirsty Monks encourages good vibes and a feeling of joy that forces the audience to get up and dance. Stay tuned as these musicians will be making music for years to come!

Band Members