Monday, August 12, 2013

02 Aug 13 - Honey Island Swamp Band

Cho! Co! (Cajun dialect for "Wow")

Does this band know how to bring the spirit of the bayou to us Yankees!  And if you weren't in the mood to party, then you were definitely at the wrong show, blogspot readers, because this band not only brought a taste of Nawlins with their music to town but also its energy, fun and excitement of the Big Easy for one night only. 

Whenever a band from Nawlins (New Orleans) tours Chicago, you know they're bringing that Canjun energy and spirit with them. This reviewer has seen it before when reviewing The Revivaliststs last year. Honey Island Swamp Band was no different, blogspot readers. In a nutshell, this band had the crowd inside Martyrs' rockin' to the sweet sounds of bayou within the Americana music from start to finish ...nonstop dancing and having a feel good, toe tappin' time that there were times SouthSide just had to stop writing and enjoy the music too. Currently on tour in support of the band's latest release Cane Sugar, Honey Island Swamp Band deliciously delighted their fans as well as this reviewer to a unique music combination known as bayou American. So what is "bayou Americana" you might ask? Well, cherie, it's a new blend of sound in which the members of Honey Island mix together a little smoky blues, a pinch of Southern rock, a dash hillbilly jamboree from the Appalachian region and a whole lot of that Nawlins vibe and feel. Add a bit of Canjun (and some crawfish gumbo) to spice things up  and volia - you have yourself one heck of performance to rock the night away. As SouthSide mentioned earlier, this band came to party, blogspot readers.

Hot is probably not the best of words to describe the atmosphere surrounding the Martyrs' venue, blogspot readers ...especially during an unseasonably cool August evening. Yet, things certainly got off to a steamy and then sweaty start when Honey Island Swamp Band took the stage and it didn't take long for this crowd to feel that toe-tappin' rhythm and upbeat swing. That's how fast Honey Island's music tends to grab your attention. Performing songs like Change My Ways (track 1) or Nerver Saw It Comin' (track 11), you might also get the feeling that songwriters/guitarists Chris Mule and Aaron Wilkinson probably had some sort of "religious" epihanny during the writing process of this album due to the nature of the other tracks featured in Cane Sugar. Somewhere along the way of life's journey, each one of us has had that "oh, yeah" moment. And having that spiritual awakening must have done this dual songwriter team some good, blogspot readers. Because whatever "divine" revelation Chris and Aaron had, it definitely brought out a touch of heartfelt humanity and expression within their vocals to which one (who has experienced what they did especially after Hurricane Katrina) could relate. To be honest, blogspot readers, it was refreshing to hear such emotions being dynamically featured in music so lively and energetic that you tend forget there's a human voice expressing a little remorse, regret and/or lesson learned like in Prodigal Son (track 7). 

Now, SouthSide received a copy of Honey Island Swamp Band's Cane Sugar before going to the show but didn't listen to the CD (or read the press releases) until afterwards thus giving the reviewer a chance to formerly introduce herself with the band, its music and fans within a live setting. And to be honest, blogspot readers, she doesn't know which she liked better - the live or recorded Honey Island Swamp Band but being fair - she highly recommends catching this band live while surrounding yourself with their fans. Something you definitely cannot re-create while listening to the CD. While observing the band interact with the fans and vice versa, she saw there certain moments where those around were having their own private "oh yeah" epihanny throughout the performance to songs like Just Another Fool (track 8) or Cast The First Stone (track 3). What really had this venue jumpin' and jivin' was when they performed the title track - Cane Sugar delighting many sweet tooths to kick up their heels. However, comparing to the recorded side of Honey Island, SouthSide enjoyed listening to the vast music arrangements that contributed to the band's bayou Americana sound from the additional vocals (by Gina and Evelyn) to the harmonica (featured in track 10 - Pills) and banjo (featured in track 5 the recorded version of Cane Sugar). Not saying the live performance of Cane Sugar wasn't up to par, blogspot readers. On the contrary. The CD version had more musical depth featuring that bayou vibe that's highlightig the Americana sound.

SouthSide hopes Honey Island Swamp Band makes a return trip again. Chicago could always use another night of that Nawlins spirit and fun ...especially during Mardi Gras.

For more information about Honey Island Swamp Band and where their tour takes them next, visit

Until next time, support your local scene,

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