I don't know if there really is such a thing as "swamp pop." I'm not sure is it anything more than "white guys playing black music really good," as explained by one of the performers in The Promised Land: A Swamp Pop Journey. I'm not sure that swamp pop isn't really just an embrace of the music of a certain time by a group of people out of that time. I'm also not sure that wedging blues and zydeco into it does anything more than cloud the definitions.
Fortunately, none of that really matters when you have a swamp pop supergroup that sounds as tremendous as Lil' Band O' Gold did the other night at the Manship Theatre. This hodgepodge of Louisiana culture transcended any pigeonholes in which you want to place it, and by doing so underscored what is truly magical about Louisiana music: it doesn't add up, it doesn't make sense, it takes from everything and makes it sound great. The real testament to their success is how they ran a tired song like ELO's "Hold on Tight" through Steve Riley's accordion and Warren Storm's drum kit and Dickie Landry's saxophone and David Egan's piano (which you can witness in more intimate surroundings at the Red Dragon this Saturday) and even through CC Adcock's ego, through the hearts and souls of everyone in the room and made it the best swamp pop song you've ever heard.
CC's outsize persona is an easy target. He is to be commended for putting Lil Band O' Gold together, doing for Louisiana music what Ry Cooder did for Cuban music with Buena Vista Social Club. So what if it's not the purest incarnation of our culture? Since when was reverence such a virtue of our region? Lil Band O' Gold put on one of the best shows I've seen in ages, making me want to dig even further into something about which I thought I already knew everything.
I think Spanish moss appears whenever you hear swamp pop.ReplyDelete
One of my very favorite swamp pop songs is Tommy McClain's version of Before I Grow Too Old. I danced to it at my wedding. I am a terrible dancer, but I will dance to this song whenever I hear it for as long as I live.
It's a Fats Domino song (I think), but McClain's version is the one I cherish. So, yes, maybe swamp pop is white guys who do blues really well. White guys from Louisiana. That holds it's own kind of mystique, doesn't it?