Swamp Cabbage: music from the Earth

Could there have been a more fitting band to play last Thursday’s 5th Annual Rivers Rock! than Swamp Cabbage?

The annual event is a fund- and consciousness-raiser for the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, a conservation organization that has taken on special importance after recent fish kills in the Ogeechee River.

And Swamp Cabbage features music that quite literally references the land and water of the Lowcountry. Lead singer and guitarist Walter Parks grew up in Jacksonville and spends a fair bit of his time these days in Savannah. Part of the band’s description from their Facebook page:

Walter Parks is the former guitarist for legend Richie Havens.

The Seminoles, Timuquans and other Native Floridians harvested, boiled and ate the hearts of the Sabal palm tree. Steamed and served as a stew it’s a rustic delicacy similar to artichoke hearts and traditional cabbage. That essence of the “real” Florida is the basis for Swamp Cabbage’s inspirational archetype: a mish mash of genres boiled into a stew of mixed blues, jazz, soul, southern rock, Appalachian and even classical vibes.

Swamp Cabbage was formed in 2001 by veteran guitarist Walter Parks, who built an international career as the lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens. Parks, who recently marked his debut as a solo artist with the release of his self-titled album earlier this year, formed the group along with bassist Jim DeVito and drummer Jagoda as a way to explore his southern musical influences.

Swamp Cabbage – using a guitar, bass and drum format — sounds like a southern rock band but “thinks” like a jazz, blues or classical trio. Harmonically, their sound is more complex than the blues. Rhythmically it’s akin to New Orleans jazz. Lyrically, they offer a comedic travelogue through Park’s North Florida upbringing, all complimented by his electric guitar style — a mélange of Scott Joplin’s ragtime and Jerry Reed’s bayou pickin. DeVito’s bass, barks like a tuba through a fuzz box, and is backed by Jagoda’s New Orleans funeral parade style drummin’.

Take a listen to tunes from the group’s Reverbnation page:

And a few pics (click for larger versions) of Swamp Cabbage — Walter Parks on guitar, Jagoda on drums, Jim Devito on bass — at the 5th Annual Rivers Rock! at Moon River Brewing Company:

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