About Us


MIKE KERWIN is a New Orleans based singer-songwriter, guitar and bass player. Mike moved to New Orleans in January 1997 from Detroit, MI and spent a few years playing solo shows, writing songs and attending as many "picking-parties" as possible including 2 that he co-founded, The Kerry Hootenanny (1997-2000) and The Liuzza's by the Track Thursday night session (1998-2003). It was at the Liuzza's session that Mike met his wife Sinead Rudden , long-time former band mates Jeff and Vida and current band mates Rob Schafer, Pat Flory and Gina Forsyth. In 2002 Mike released a solo CD titled ROWBOAT. Songs from that CD have been recorded by London based electronica artist Pete Lazonby and Brooklyn, NY based Strung Out String Band and are still requested at Sweet Olive shows. In addition to his work as a songwriter Mike has played bass professionally with Jeff and Vida, Johnny Sansone, The Louisiana Hellbenders, The King Brisket Boys, The By and By String Band, Kenny Holiday and many others.  As a bass player Mike has toured the US, Ireland and England extensively with multiple Jazz Fest appearances. In The Sweet Olive String Band, Mike writes, arranges, sings and plays guitar. In addition, Mike performs regularly with The Saint Claude Serenaders.

PAT FLORY is "the" quintessential elder-statesmen-Old-Time-Country-and-Bluegrass-musician in New Orleans. Affectionately called "The Monroe of The Hi Ho" (in reference to the long running Monday night jam) Pat's influence and mentoring of musicians over the years, locally and beyond, cannot be overstated. Born in 1948 in New Iberia, Louisiana, Pat grew up listening to the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ol' Opry and the fiddling of his uncle, renowned Mississippi fiddler John Holloway. Pat is an exceptional multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist. In The Sweet Olive String Band Pat writes, arranges, sings lead and high tenor and plays mandolin, square-neck dobro and guitar.
Locally, Pat is well known for co-founding The Piney Woods Opry live radio show in Abita Springs, Louisiana in 1992. Pat's commitment and hard work to shape and develop The Opry payed off as the show grew in popularity and sold out for years on end. He was the lead singer, guitarist and band leader of the host band, The Evening Star String Band. Pat has played music live on stage since 1966. He's played solo and with various string bands over the years from New York to California, New Mexico to New Orleans. The Evening Star String Band had a long run of performances at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival.

ROB SCHAFER is a New Orleans based musician originally from Virginia. Rob plays string bass and sings in The Sweet Olive String Band.
In addition, Rob has worked professionally with Los Po-Boy-Citos, John Lisi, Sweet Peas Revenge, The Louisiana Hellbenders, Kenny Holliday, Beth Patterson and RGB to name a few. Rob played The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2011 with Beth Patterson.

GINA FORSYTH is a singer-songwriter, violinist and guitarist based in New Orleans. Born in Florida and raised in Alabama, Forsyth moved to Louisiana in the mid-1980's and became immersed in Cajun music. Gina has played the long running Sunday fais do-do at Tipitina's with Bruce Daigrapont since 1994. In addition, she is well known and loved for her song-writing and fiddling as well as her TV and radio appearances on The Piney Woods Opry, The Abita Springs Opry and the yearly Hank Williams tribute and Classic Country shows in Eunice, LA. Her first solo CD, YOU ARE HERE, was released nationally on Waterbug Records in 2001. Her current solo CD PROMISED LAND is a top 50 finalist for a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Folk Album. She has also appeared on 2 CD's with The Malvinas, I'M NOT LIKE THIS (2002) and LOVE, HOPE AND TRANSPORTATION (2004). Gina has played fiddle on numerous recordings over the years and continues to tear it up with The Sweet Olive String Band and others. Gina has performed multiple times at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

CD Review- OffBeat Magazine -April 2013 

While New Orleans will never be as famous for its acoustic music scene as it is for jazz, funk and R&B, Sweet Olive String Band’s auspicious debut brings one of its quieter, longstanding titans to the forefront. Though Pat Flory has resided in the Crescent City since the late 70’s and has made his presence felt with various contributions, surprisingly these bluegrass-tinged tracks (read: no banjo) represent his first studio recording ever. Flory wrote the lion’s share of songs with five originals that fit well within the classic bluegrass/old-time country idiom without being redundant or formulaic. As a vocalist, he can sound hearty like bandmate Mike Kerwin but also warble that high lonesome sound, such as on “My Louisiana Home.” On Kerwin’s “Long Lonesome Road,” Flory adds a touch of high harmony reminiscent of the legendary country brother duets of the ’30s and ’40s, something Sweet Olive should leverage more of. The quartet’s playing is extremely accomplished, especially given Flory and Kerwin’s splendid flatpicking and Forsyth’s gorgeous rides. Two instrumentals ensure that its Louisiana identity stays intact; the lazy, strolling jazz standard “Tin Roof Blues” and the lolloping Cajun waltz “Gabrielle.” With its clean, crisp mix and understated soulfulness, Sweet Olive’s cruise ends too soon, 10 tracks clocking in at 26 minutes. Still, it’s just enough to leave you wanting more.

by Dan Wilging