Take some heartbreak, dip it in funky bayou swamp water, drag it across the marsh and leave it in the hot Louisiana sunshine to dry. Lift it up with a stiff backbeat, add some tinkly piano or some melancholy squeezebox, and let ‘er rip. Swamp pop was a late ’50s-early ’60s hybrid of r&b, country, and honky-tonk that bled all over the various musical charts. Cookie and the Cupcakes’ “Mathilda” is the genre’s signature tune, as is most anything by Bobby Charles Guidry. Fats Domino’s catalog is saturated with the stuff-embodied in tunes like “Walkin’ To New Orleans,” “Before I Grow Too Old.” Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes the Place of You” is a classic swamp weeper. Freddy Fender blurred the line between Tex-Mex and swamp pop with “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days And Wasted Nights, and Dale and Grace’s ’63 hit “I’m Leavin’ It Up To You,” put some country whine in the mix as well.
Composed of members of the Pine Leaf Boys and The Red Stick Ramblers, the Revelers are recent contributors to swamp pop,but have plenty of credentials and heritage to back ’em up. Blake Miller on accordion and vocals, Chas Justus on electric and acoustic guitars and vocals, Chris Miller on tenor sax, Daniel Coolik on fiddle and electric guitar, Eric Frey on bass and vocals, and Glenn Fields on drums and vocals bring new life to the genre without wallowing in nostalgia.
Although you get plenty of bang for your buck, there are only four cuts on the latest EP, as there were on Volume one.
The cuts included here are not swamp pop classics- yet. Gary U.S Bonds is best known for his ’61 hit, “Quarter To 3.” His ’61 single “A Trip to the Moon” was the flip side of another minor hit, “School Is In.” The Revelers “Moon” makeover is punched up a bit, Cajunized and delivered with the same frenetic energy as the original, but with more of a country feel.
“If Its Really Gotta Be This Way” is more in the classic swamp pop framework. Arthur Alexander’s original is country-flavored soul. The Revelers make it over as Cajun Doo-wop, buoyed by Miller’s hiccuping accordion all the way through.
“Nobody Would Know” is actual swamp pop royalty. Warren Storm’s original is a bit slower and more soulful, but Glenn Fields vocal on the makeover crosses it over into country crooning, but the guitar solo takes it into soulful blues territory before Fields rurally reclaims it.
Legendary Swamper Spooner Oldmam’s “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” original is a bizarre mashup of freak-folk/country vocal backed by his reverb-drenched Ry Cooder-style guitar.
The Revelers take this one to the chop shop and drive it out with a Tex-Mex makeover that would have fitted perfectly in Freddie Fender’s catalog.
The only problem with any Revelers release is there ain’t never enough of it. The boys have been grabbing time between gigs with the Pine Leaf Boys and The Red Stick Ramblers,but with a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Regional Roots Music for their full length release Get Ready and curating and appearing in the Blackpot Festival in Lafayette each year,hopefully there’s a chance to get a belly and an earful of the new generation of swamp pop heroes.