Latest Honey Island Swamp Band Articles
Eric Clapton, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Phish, Santana and many others performed during the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Carly Shields shares her take with photos by Adam McCullough.
About Honey Island Swamp Band
Great music begins with great songs, and great songs are what the Honey Island Swamp Band is all about. The band came together after Aaron Wilkinson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Chris Mule (electric guitar, vocals) were marooned in San Francisco when the levee breaches following Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and had a chance encounter with fellow New Orleans evacuees Sam Price (bass, vocals) and Garland Paul (drums, vocals) at the John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room on Fillmore Street. They knew each other from having all played together in some form or another in various New Orleans bands, and with the great unknown regarding their return to their underwater hometown looming in the distance, they decided to put together a band and get some gigs going. Fortunately, the Boom Boom Room’s owner Alex Andreas offered the band a weekly gig on the spot.
Sunday nights at the Boom Boom Room soon became a favorite of Bay Area roots music lovers, who have a long-standing affinity for New Orleans music and musicians. Two months into the residency, sound engineer Robert Gatley approached the band with a rare opportunity – he wanted to record a Honey Island Swamp Band album at the legendary Record Plant studios in Sausalito, where he worked. The recording came together beautifully, with Wilkinson and Mule both contributing favorite originals, and was received so well that they all decided to continue the band upon moving back to New Orleans in early 2007.
Honey Island Swamp Band’s music has been described as “Bayou Americana”, with timeless songs from Wilkinson and Mule, highlighted by MulÃ©’s searing guitar, Wilkinson’s sure-handed mandolin, and 4-part vocal harmonies, all anchored by the powerful groove of Price & Paul’s Louisiana stomp rhythm section. The addition of Trevor Brooks on Hammond B-3 organ to the HISB family in 2010 has rounded out the band’s sound, which draws from a variety of influences in the world of roots music, including artists such as Lowell George & Little Feat, The Band, Taj Mahal, Gram Parsons, Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Reed, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and New Orleans’ own Earl King and Dr. John.
In April 2009, the band released its first full-length album – Wishing Well – and on the strength of such songs as “Natural Born Fool”, “Till the Money’s Gone”, and the album’s title track, Wishing Well was awarded 2009’s “Best Blues Album” by OffBeat Magazine, which also named HISB as 2009’s “Best Emerging Artist” and 2010’s “Best Roots Rock Artist”. Most recently the band won the award for “Best Roots Rock Artist” of 2011 at the Big Easy Awards, New Orleans’ most prestigious arts & entertainment honors.
The newest offering from HISB – 2010’s Good To You – was named to several “Top Ten CDs of 2010” lists, and has quickly become a staple on the Crescent City’s legendary radio station WWOZ, as well as on Sirius/XM satellite radio’s Bluesville and traditional stations from coast-to-coast. Featuring the southern strut of songs such as “Be Good”, “300 Pounds” and the album’s first single “Chocolate Cake”, Good To You illuminates the mix of country-inflected rock and New Orleans funky blues that makes Honey Island Swamp Band’s music so familiar and unique at the same time.