Blog Critics Magazine - February 16, 2007
Swamp Gold Country (Vol 1)
Since BC Magazine is continuing to salute country music during the month of February, it seemed like the right time to revisit indie music of the country persuasion. It's always a real kick to see what's available from some of the independent regional outfits that are operating in various parts of the good ole U.S. of A., because a lot of those guys are generating some damn good boot-stompin' music.
A while back I reviewed a compilation country music album that originated in the Northern California area, and this time around I'm presenting a collection that's similar in scope but comes from a wa-a-a-y different place. It's being produced by a company called Jin Records, handled by Flat Town Music in Southern Louisiana, and the name of the album pretty much tells you what it's about - Swamp Gold Country. (At first glance, you might think that the name should be Swamp Country Gold, but it appears to be a follow-up to an earlier series of albums called just Swamp Gold, so I guess this is the - you know - country version.)
This is solidly performed and mostly traditional country music with just a tang of the bayou, and there are a lot of talented artists represented, even if some of them are still relatively unknown. A few, such as the group Moe-D, who perform the outstanding slow ballad "Bottom Of The Glass", have had some success and have generated solo albums. Don Rich is another good example, and I really enjoyed "Back In His Arms Again". Some other solid performances include a pair of delicious songs that relate to the Louisiana offshore oil industry, Tommy Warren's "Offshore Blues" and "Roughneck Blues" by Al Terry.
I have to confess that I have a soft spot for at least one type of music that hails from that area, which is commonly known as Cajun Country. I've made several extended visits through the years and have always thoroughly enjoyed Cajun music, and although most of the songs on this album are traditional country music, a few definitely have a squeeze-box flavor and even some Cajun French lyrics. A couple of examples are Adam Hebert's "Tomorrow I'll Be Gone" and one I especially enjoyed, "I Love My Saturday Night," sung by Jim Olivier. You can almost taste the Étouffée.
This album is a good mix of traditional country music, country blues, a little rockabilly, and of course a few Cajun-flavored lagniappes thrown in for good measure. Overall, a lot of good music, and that's what we're all about.
written by Big Geez
Blog Critics Magazine - December 15, 2007
Swamp Gold Country (Vol 2)
Louisiana has always had a huge presence in country music, with a rich history that includes everyone from Faron Young and Floyd Cramer to modern stars such as Tim McGraw. Through the years, performers have starred in every venue from regional dance halls to radio and TV, where the Louisiana Hayride trailed only the Grand Ole Opry in influence.
A large part of that musical history comes from South Louisiana, and a new collection from Jin Records does a good job of providing a wide spectrum of the area's music from several eras. Swamp Gold Country - Volume 2, which follows 2006's Volume 1, furnishes more of the same — an outstanding mix of the best bayou-tinged country music around.
Not surprisingly, some of the same singers and pickers show up again, including talented vocalists Don Rich and Johnny Webb, along with currently popular supergroup Moe-D. In fact, Moe-D leads off the album with one of my favorites, an irreverent tune called “It Ain't Gonna Rain No More.”
The group's Cajun-flavored music is typical of the music of the area, and there are several songs by some of the artists here that have that unmistakable bayou sound. A good example is Belton Richard's “I Can't Stop Loving You,” which is sung partially in French and certainly gives us something different than Ray Charles' classic version or even the original by Don Gibson.
But although the Cajun sound is inevitably embedded in most of the music, these are still just good old honky-tonk tunes, Southern style. In fact, it's a good bet that if you'd visited some clubs in the area through the years, you'd have heard a lot of the same songs — either from live bands or on the jukebox. Every decade is represented, with Johnny Webb's “Blue Yesterday” from 1959 the earliest.
There are a lot of good listens here, including Big John Trimble's “Gear Jammers Helper,” but the one that tickled me the most was turned in by songbird Debbie Folse. In a delightful bit of linkage with the earlier Swamp Gold Country album, she sings “Her Side Of Offshore Blues,” a response to one of the best from that earlier album, Tommy Warren's “Offshore Blues.” It doesn't get much better than that.
written by Big Geez