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Blues rocker and Kent native Patrick Sweany's latest record, "Close To The Floor," hits the streets July 16 via Nine Mile Records.
Before the release of the record and the launch of an East Coast tour, Sweany will return home for a performance at the Kent Heritage Festival on Saturday. He will take the stage at 4 p.m. at Zephyr Pub, 106 W. Main St.
"I decided to write the record in December," Sweany said. "The timing was right. I was on the road. I'm not a guy that wakes up in the morning and writes every day. I'll carry a melody around for years. I work with little bits and pieces and notes around me or in my cell phone and when it's time to make a record, I start to piece those things together. That process started in the fall, most of November was songwriting and in December we tracked the album."
"Close To The Floor" is a hard look at some very difficult recent events in Sweany's life and his attempts to cope with the deaths of family members.
"It's my best record," Sweany said. "It's an album that is a good deal of material dealing with grief and the loss of a relationship and the affect that has on a family."
Sweany said timelines and names don't matter as much as the message of the album.
"I want privacy for my family," Sweany said. "People put themselves into the music and I don't mean that to be selfish, I just mean people don't need to know all the gory details about my personal life. As far as dates, no one needs to know, but I think it definitely has a positive message about surviving and prospering."
Sweany also sings about his struggles with perpetual touring and his battles with the music industry.
"There was a club in Philadelphia that wanted to cancel our show because they were expecting a storm," Sweany said. "It was one of those ridiculous situations. They put us in a room without a PA system. I'm to a point where I've been performing so long, you wouldn't think this sort of thing happens, but it does. I understand I'm very lucky to be a performer and I try to never take that for granted, but occasionally I get a little frustrated. This is just my little fight back."
The album was recorded to two-inch tape in east Nashville, where Sweany now resides, and features contributions from longtime friend and producer Joe McMahan, of Luella & The Sun, Allsion Moorer and Webb Wilder.
"It's definitely rootsy blues and a bunch of rock 'n' roll," Sweany said. "It has a strong soul and R&B influence on it. Of course, a lot of the early blues players. People like Lightnin' Hopkins."
Sweany said this album has a much larger sound than his previous records.
"I try to get to the real heart of the story," Sweany said. "That's always my approach. What you're saying doesn't always mean the same to other people. It's sort of trivialized. With the loss of a family member, it's a challenge to try and express that in a way people can relate to and also making sure you're not depressing."
Sweany said he couldn't have asked for a better team to work with on the album.
The album features Ron Eoff, of Cate Brothers and Levon Helm, Jon Radford, of Justin Townes Earle and Lilly Hiatt and Ryan Norris, of Lambchop, among others.
Sweany said playing Kent Heritage Festival has become a yearly tradition.
"I actually graduated from Kent State," Sweany said. "The Zephyr was the very first place I ever got paid to perform, that was back in 1992 when it was a vegetarian restaurant. I've always had a great relationship with them and when it was festival time they asked if I wanted to play out on the patio. I've done it every year and it's always a great time. It's Kent fest. It's the party of the summer."
For more information, call 330-674-4848.