The Black Keys welcomed Nathaniel Rateliff during their encore on Wednesday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre to remember their mutual friend and collaborator Richard Swift. Together, the ensemble performed “Broken Finger Blues” off Swift’s 2018 solo album The Hex.
From the turn of the century up until his death at 41 in 2018, Swift existed as an indie musician’s indie musician. He began touring as The Black Keys’ bassist in 2014 before joining frontman Dan Auerbach‘s side project The Arcs the following year, playing on the band’s hidden gem The Arcs vs. The Inventors, Vol. 1 featuring collaborations with Dr. John and David Hidalgo (Los Lobos). Swift was also a sought-after producer and produced Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ 2015 self-titled debut and 2018’s Tearing At The Seams. Rateliff’s 2020 solo debut, And It’s Still Alright, was influenced by Swift’s death.
“Broken Finger Blues” comes from The Hex, Swift’s posthumously released 2018 solo album. The years-long effort featured songs dedicated to his wife, daughters, son, friends, colleagues, and all those affected by his alcohol addiction that he ultimately succumbed to on July 3rd, 2018. It was intended to be part one of a two-album sequence followed by The Fix, which would chronicle his rise from the ashes. The Hex marked Swift’s final album.
“We’re gonna play a special tune for you guys—one we’ve never played before,” Auerbach told the Red Rocks crowd. “We lost a good friend of ours not too long ago. His name was Richard Swift. And we’re gonna play a song of his. And we’re gonna ask another one of Richard’s friends to come out here and help us. Give it up for Nathaniel Rateliff, let’s hear it for him!”
Watch The Black Keys and Nathaniel Rateliff cover “Broken Finger Blues” at Red Rocks on Wednesday.
The Black Keys, Nathaniel Rateliff – “Broken Finger Blues” (Richard Swift) – 7/13/22
[Video: The London Souls Historian]