The Seminoles, Timuquans, Creeks and other native Floridians
harvested and stewed the heart of the Sabal palm tree to create a rustic
delicacy called swamp cabbage. Rarely served today save for in
pine-paneled hunting lodges and fish camps, swamp cabbage still lingers
as a vestige of the “real” Florida. As an inspirational archetype the
name Swamp Cabbage was chosen to remind listeners where the music comes
from and that it is a musical concoction of southern rock, blues, soul,
Dixieland jazz and Appalachian.
Swamp Cabbage extracts as much music as possible from the
quintessential rock and roll format – a guitar, bass and drum trio. The
songs are built around gnarly unique southern- rock sounding riffs yet
the rhythms derive from blues, soul and funk. The verses, choruses and
bridges are threaded together by jazz and classical harmonic concepts
that employ Parks’ musical training in those genres. Lyrically, the
tunes present a satirical travelogue through Parks’ colorful northeast
Florida upbringing. In concert, Parks, a storyteller of sorts,
challenges himself to spin comedic tales of preparation for songs that
Swamp Cabbage is old school in one sense, albeit with a growing
contemporary appeal, bolstered by their recent touring with fellow
Floridian J.J. Grey and MOFRO. Proudly rejecting the use of digital
effects and sonic trickery the band is committed to recording only what
they can pull off live, sometimes with great challenge!
For ten years veteran guitarist Walter Parks, recorded and toured as
lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens performing Madison
Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, Cannes Film Festival and in theatres
worldwide. When Richie retired in 2009, Walter chose to focus on
writing and recording both as a solo artist and with Swamp Cabbage. That
same year original bassist Matt Lindsey left the band.
Producer/engineer Jim DeVito was the natural choice to step in having
recorded the band’s first two albums Honk and Squeal to 2” tape (and the
entire discography of fellow Floridians J.J. Grey and MOFRO). Swamp
Cabbage drummer, Jagoda is a distinguished instructor at the Rock
Mountain Folks Fest Song School in Lyons, CO. Jagoda also has the honor
of having played on T Bone Burnett’s recent record Tooth of Crime.
In 1987 Parks moved to New York from his hometown of Jacksonville
Florida. At the time Parks was hoping to conceal his southern roots and
ride the European bandwagon shadowing The Police and U2. Walter states:
“I was trying to be someone other than who I was and this was ultimately
fruitless. When I played the clubs in New York, people kept commenting
about how much they liked the swampy feel that I thought I had
thoroughly expunged! At the time, I hopelessly fancied myself
sophisticated and not the redneck that one would associate with all
things swamp. Some very well spent time working with and playing with
German jazz guitarist Leni Stern encouraged me to return to my roots
stylistically. That said, it would be many years later that I would
return to them physically in a move from New York to Savannah.” As to
the band sound Parks says: “I’m very proud that Swamp Cabbage has carved
out its own Florida-centric swamp vibe that’s different from the
Louisiana or Texas swamp thing. I don’t use a pick for starters, so I
relate to the guitar less like it’s a blues instrument and more like
it’s a banjo.
I employ the influence of John Scofield’s wonderful command of
harmonic ugliness, Daniel Lanois’ command of harmonic beauty and Jaco
Pastorious’ rhythmic feel. Vocally I’m perhaps too inspired by Billy
Gibbons yet I never try to copy him.” DeVito created the Swamp Cabbage
bass sound with mid-60’s Guild and Gibson basses that gnaw through a mix
like a tuba played through a fuzz box. Jagoda’s second-line New Orleans
funeral parade beat keeps all heads in the house bobbin’.
If you like early ZZ Top, The Meters, Dr John, Tom Waits, Tony Joe
White, J.J. Grey MOFRO and The Black Keys this show is not to be missed.
Swamp Cabbage’s songs are featured on Discover Channel’s American Guns
theme, Man vs Food and My Big Redneck Wedding.