Home Grown Entertainment

The Muskokan (May 15, 2008) When Peter Swanek decided he wanted a change of direction in his life he turned to the one thing that gave him real happiness: music. But instead of being happy promoting concerts in other venues he decided to bring the music closer to home. His own home in fact.PETERS PLACE. Peter Swanek spent nearly a year and a half building his “home theatre,” a 30-foot by 40-foot concert venue attached to his kitchen on Muskoka Road South. It has alreadyattracted some big names in the music industry, and the intimate atmosphere is a big hit with concert goers.
Blues pioneer James Cotton sits in a rocking chair on the front porch, his tired harmonica resting in his lap. He and his band pass around a bucket of fried chicken, their raspy voices cutting the cool spring air while inside Johnny Winter takes his turn on stage. Cotton has just finished his set, a procession of down-and-dirty, high-energy tunes that mesmerized an intimate crowd of music lovers.
This isn’t a juke joint in the gritty 1950s Deep South. This was the scene just a few weeks ago at Peter Swanek’s house in Gravenhurst. A contractor turned music promoter,

Swanek has literally built his dream from the ground up – a concert hall, complete with sound, lighting and tiered seating, is his living room. A few years ago it was Moe’s automotive garage, but now big-name musicians and throngs of fans gather at Peter’s Place.

Swanek couldn’t be happier. “Cotton kicked,” he says grinning. “This guy used to sell out 18,000-seat venues and now he’s in my house. Come on, does it get any better?” It’s a dream that started eight years ago when Swanek, defeated, perpetually tired and always “chasing the dollar” as a renovator, woke up one morning and knew he needed drastic change. “I thought to myself, what is it that I could do that would bring me real joy? There was only one answer, and I immediately knew. Music.” From his home in Innisfil he began calling talent agents of musicians he liked. “Not of any one particular sound or genre, just really talented guys.” The single father of four negotiated with venues across southern Ontario and booked both local and nationally renowned musicians.

After a show, Swanek was sitting with performer Colin Linden. Swanek asked the blues guitarist, “How would you describe what I do?” Swanek recalls, “Without hesitation, he looked at me and said, ‘Peter, you’re a music farmer.’ ” At first the title didn’t sit well with him. “But then I thought about it, and he was right on the money. I nurture the music,” he says, cupping his hands. “Really home grow it, you know?”

Swanek has literally built his dream from the ground up – a concert hall, complete with sound, lighting and tiered seating, is his living room. A few years ago it was Moe’s automotive garage, but now big-name musicians and throngs of fans gather at Peter’s Place.