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. In contrast the lyrics of the tunes are far less serious. Listen closely and take a satirical travelogue through Parks’ colorful northeast Florida upbringing replete with tales of door-to-door evangelism and living off the grid. In concert, Parks, a storyteller of sorts, challenges himself to spin comedic falsehoods of preparation for songs that follow. Every show is unique.
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. I spent time working with and playing with German jazz guitarist Leni Stern who encouraged me to return to my roots stylistically however 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 discord, 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.” Bassist Jim DeVito created the Swamp Cabbage low-end 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 Discovery Channel’s American Guns theme, Man vs Food and My Big Redneck Wedding