Monthly Archives: July 2013


Taking queues from classic pop, rock’n’roll, and Americana, Hollis Brown combines raw rock sensibilities with sweet melodies and hearfelt lyrics to create a rich, warm sound that can fill any room. Principal songwriters Mike Montali (vocals) and Jon Bonilla (lead guitar) grew up listening to the classics. These native New Yorkers were born in the late ’80s when the city was identified by its grit, passion and authenticity. The combination of an urban upbringing and throwback musical influences of traditional blues contributed heavily to the band’s sound. However, contrary to most blues-influenced bands, Hollis Brown leans heavily toward melodic pop as well. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Beatles song these boys don’t know by heart, and you can hear it in the music. Classic rock with a New York state of mind, Hollis Brown is a throwback to an era when music felt fresh, songwriting was revered and performances routinely inspired.


August 3 @ Midd Summer Festival – Middlebury, VT

August 22 @ Rumba Cafe – Columbus, OH

August 23 @ Tonic Room – Chicago, IL

August 24 @ Dog Dayz Afternoon Fest – Neenah, WI

August 26 @ Crunchy Frog – Greenbay, WI

August 27 @ 1st Ave & 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN

August 29 @ MOTR Pub – Cincinnati, OH

August 31 @ Paper City Music Fest – Chillicothe, OH


Hollis Brown make music that sounds just as alive today as it would’ve in 1966 and will 40 years from now. – SPIN

Through this consistently impressive first long player, Hollis Brown have carved out their own space with a set of timeless, rustic and eminently tuneful and soulful sounds. –  SHINDIG!

It’s easy to see how Hollis Brown’s sound could be as relevant years down the road as it is today. – PASTE

Packed to the brim with sterling songs that measure up to those covers they’re so fond of playing live. – KUT RADIO /AUSTIN

Their well-crafted songs are rooted in the blues and feature pop hooks that sink in and don’t let go. – CMT

Ride On The Train is the group’s debut full-length album, and it’s a gem, full of memorable songs and a sharp, taut sound that only includes what is necessary to put the song over. – ALL MUSIC

Everything you’d expect from a band named after a Bob Dylan tune, mixing Americana and Bible Belt blues with a heavy dose of no-frills Southern rock. – AMERICAN SONGWRITER

A bracing mixture of something akin to blues-based Southern rock and pure British Invasion-influenced pop. – WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY

Like a refined version of the late ’60s era rock and roll that sort of trembles into ’70s rock / folk /country territory. – MUSIC SAVAGE

Ride On The Train is an album that a lot of people are going to love for its multi-generational appeal. But besides that, it’s just good rock music. It’s hard to peg a specific sound on it. There are no “skip” songs on this album though. Be prepared to keep it in your player, on repeat, for a long time. – EAR TO THE GROUND

A remarkable debut from a band that shows a lot of promise. – PENNY BLACK MUSIC

Their debut is something to behold. – HEAR YA

Hollis Brown conjures a dozen things I’ve liked or loved from the last 30 years. But it sounds exactly like no one else. – BLURT

A band that’s a little bit classic pop, a little bit Americana and a whole lot of sweet rock n’ roll. – PULSE MAGAZINE



Hollis Brown’s Ride On The Train is available now in all formats. Limited Edition Color Vinyl available through Bomp-mailorder.



Tony Bonyata
Pavement PR
p: 262.903.7775


(national music magazine) “Taste” feature song in their “MP3 AT 3Pm” feature.
Residing in Hotlanta, indie artist Tedo Stone churns out straight-laced and raw Strokes-esque rock tracks. Try out Mr. Stone’s latest single “Taste” to see if you’re picking up what he is putting down. The song is off  his debut studio release, Good Go Bad, out now via This Is American Music. Download “Taste” below. – See more at:

“Big As The Ocean” premiere with positive post (props to BabyRobot)

Song Premiere: Tedo Stone – “Big As The Ocean”
By Burgess Brown
Tedo Stone’s listed influences range from John Prine to David Bowie, and surely his unlisted influences are even more varied. One would think juggling such diverse inspirations might create a disjointed and inconsistent sound, but that’s not the case with Stone.

His music infuses alt-country and rock with elements of psychedelic, electronic and indie rock. Any given song may be based around a fuzzed out guitar line, a swelling synth, or a mellow acoustic guitar, but Stone’s echoey vocals and catchy melodies always tie everything together.

Stone and his band released a well-received EP last year and followed up with the release of his first full length, Good Go Bad, earlier this month. Check out Tedo Stone’s catchy single “Big As The Ocean” from Good Go Bad in the player below.—big-as-the-ocean.html

(Los Angeles public radio) – “Big As The Ocean” aired on Jason Kramer’s show July 17th

(online music site) – Title track stream and positive post.
Stream Tedo Stone’s “Good Go Bad”
By Peter
Here at HQ, we listen to a lot of music. Occasionally something catches our ear and stands out as something special. In Discovery of the Week, our staff bring you their personal picks and recommendations from their hours and hours of sifting through new music. This week, Peter Grumbine brings you Tedo Stone.

Tedo Stone is releasing his debut full length album Good Go Bad with This Is American Music Tuesday, July 9. We’ve got the exclusive preview of the title track for you below.

Good Go Bad is a striking statement of purpose and a staggering blend of complexities so artfully arranged that your first takeaway is simply, “wow.” Few debut albums arrive with this kind of maturity, sense of self, and timelessness.  Tedo Stone isn’t knocking on the door– he’s been living your house all along and you just noticed. But not in a creepy way.

In a sense, the record is somewhat of a musical Rorschach test. You hear what you like in it. Two people could hear completely different things that are all there, and somehow Tedo and crew manage to balance all these elements so adroitly that every track is extremely accessible, yet they all continue to reveal new surprises on each listen. It’s a rare art.

If I had to mangle a bunch of terms to describe it, I’d probably go with Cosmic Glam Rock ‘n’ Soul, but that doesn’t do the album justice, so let’s just say it’s really f*cking good.

Take a listen to the track “Good Go Bad” below.

In a single song, Tedo Stone spans three decades of R&B influences, without even really making an R&B song. It’s an indie rock groover, but it’s so much more. Listen to it again. The horns couldn’t be more perfectly placed.

To get a little more of an idea of what’s going on in the album, stream the first single, “Taste” below.

The quality of production on Good Go Bad is no fluke, yet it all happened by chance. Stone was recording the album in the middle of the night on the cheap with an intern engineer at Glow-In-The-Dark Studios in Atlanta. As the guys were running through a song, GRAMMY-winning and multi-platinum producer Matt Goldman overheard them. Goldman couldn’t resist, immediately joined in, and took over production on the album. It was the kind of opportunity every musician dreams of, but never really expects to actually happen.

Here on, anticipation for the release is clearly growing, as you can see on Stone’s listening trend. Once the album is released, this chart will be a completely different picture.

You can keep up with Tedo Stone on his webpage, Facebook, and Twitter, and you can get Good Go Bad from This is American Music.

(ATL weekly) Positive feature with band photo and“Taste” mp3 (via Baby Robot)
Tedo Stone get ‘High’ with ‘Good Go Bad’
Posted by Christopher Hassiotis
ATL rock guy Tedo Stone and his backing band the Cosmic Supermoon set out on Midwestern tour last week (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and a recording session with Daytrotter) to commemorate the release of Stone’s debut full-length Good Go Bad.

Stone has been playing around town for a few years, and started recording Good Go Bad two years ago. His soul-inspired vocals and fuzzy guitar rock are retro in a kinda sunny ’70s vibe, but retro in a kinda early ’00s vibe as well. Most of the tracks from Good Go Bad can be triangulated looking back at tunes recorded a decade ago, stuff like that of the Strokes (garagey, anthemic, and mid-tempo), Ted Leo (clearly enunciated vocals, strong rock underpinning), and Taylor Hollingsworth (guitar-focused and singer-songwritery).

Like those bands, Stone picks an emotional range and sticks with it for a song, though the mellow piano and organ on “Time” move things from a delicate waltz to a more rousing rocker. A tuneful songwriter, Stone never overloads his songs with too many effects, though he does heavily favor some vocal filters. Horns on the album opener “As Big as the Ocean” or the solid organ lines on “High” add punch. And “Circles,” a vocals-and-ukelele tune, was recorded on Stone’s cell phone – it’s charmingly minimal and lightweight.

Stone handles vocals and guitar duties with the Cosmic Supermoon, backed by Atlanta guitarist Clay Houle (Brain) and an Athens-based rhythm section, bassist Frank Keith IV (Frank and the Stranglers, the District Attorneys), drummer Grafton Tanner (Space Ghost). Good Go Bad is out now via This is American Music.

Give a listen to “High” from Good Go Bad.

(Athens weekly) – Brief show preview.
Caledonia Lounge
TEDO STONE Rootsy Atlanta-based Americana band with a touch of psychedelic fuzziness Aug. 12th

(online music blog) – “Taste” mp3 and positive postive
Bro, don’t even ask me who Tedo Stone is because I have no clue. I don’t know if that is the name of the band or if it is a dude in the band. And I don’t know if you pronounce it Tito or tay-do. I don’t know if they are new or if I’m pulling a Brando and discovering them 10 years too late. I don’t know. BUT I’m going to find out because this song is the frosting on a cherry flavored taint.

(online music blog) Positive post with album art and Taste & GGB streams.
Tedo STONE “Good Go Bad”
By Simon
Southern-indie retro-rock, with addictive melodies and a heavy helping of fuzzy guitar the debut release by Atlanta / Athens, GA based Tedo Stone is a soundtrack for the summer, it’s out now and you can get hold of your digital copy at T.I.A.M. for a measly $5.;utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tedo-stone-good-go-bad

(national music magazine) Back Again premiere with positive post and band photo.
Premiere: Tedo Stone “Back Again” (props to BabyRobot)

Tedo Stone recorded debut EP, Happy with longtime Widespread Panic collaborator John Keane. Stone has now completed his first full-length, which is set for release tomorrow via This Is American Music. Today we’re premiering “Back Again” from Good Go Bad, which Stone recorded with producer Matt Goldman. Stone and his group, which includes Frank Keith IV (bass), Grafton Tanner (drums) and Clay Houle (guitar) will support the album with a series of shows. The current intinerary appears below the stream of “Back Again.”

(national music magazine) Good Go Bad premiere with positive post (props to BabyRobot)

MP3 Premiere: Tedo Stone’s “Good Go Bad”
By Blurt Staff

After recording his debut EP, Happy, with John Keane (R.E.M., Uncle Tupelo, Cowboy Junkies), Tedo Stone is releasing his first LP, Good Go Bad/Tedo played his first Daytrotter session this week, and PopMatters recently premiered the song “Taste” (, praising Tedo’s “70s-esque, swaggering, peach fuzzy guitar rock” while noting a strong T. Rex and Strokes influence. We’re pleased to offer a premiere as well, for the title track:

Stone explains, “This song was one of the last we recorded for the album. I came into the studio with the idea for the chorus, and ended up writing and recording the music for the whole song without any idea of what the verse melody or lyrics would be. Usually when I write a song, I build the music around the melody, so this was a strange process for me. The song was originally supposed to be about my fear of death, but as I wrote the lyrics it took on a different meaning. It’s really about uncertainty and risk. Uncertainty is the scariest thing in the world, but also the most exciting.”

(online music site) Feature interview with band photo
Interview – Tedo Stone
He uses the word “happenstance” a lot, but it’s no coincidence that musician and ramblin’ man Tedo Stone has proven himself a more than worthy addition to the Americana scene. Weaned on a balanced diet of Wilco and Motown, this native Southerner curates his distinct bluesy psychedelia from his sonic adventures around the States.

On the debut album, Good Go Bad (This Is American Music), he oxymoronically keeps things light. But Stone says it’s “happenstance” that such a cheery release comes on the heels of the deceiving Happy EP.

“Everyone jokes around— they say that all the songs on the Happy EP are real sad. I guess that they kind of are,” he supposes, chuckling a bit. He continues: “And the new one is called Good Go Bad, but (these songs are) a lot more upbeat in my opinion. So there’s a little bit of irony there.”

Happy, pieced together in 2011 with producing giant John Keane (R.E.M., Cowboy Junkies), relied on a more straightforward country-rock sound. But with Good Go Bad, Stone infused, well, stoner elements that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Wavves or MGMT record. Dig “High” for example: Omnipresent, feverishly echoing backing vocals accompany his mellow tenor, as warm synths skitter like crabs across the refrains.

The beachy-keen imagery might stem from Stone’s stint of living in Hawaii with a few buddies. “I was in between being in school out in Mississippi (he got a degree in business marketing) and thinking about coming back to Atlanta and pursuing the music. Being out there really was like more an awakening. I was removed. I had a group of friends that was living out there, and I stayed on their couch pretty much for about two months. It was out there that I realized, OK, I just finished up school; I could go get a desk job, or I could wait tables and play music.”

Born on island time was the stripped-down GGB track “Circles,” featuring little more than a yearning ukulele and the artist’s soul-baring vocals, recorded on his cellphone. “I’m a dog at heart… I am circles starting to unwind,” he sings. You can almost see Stone staring out into the Pacific, wondering where the tide will take him next.

His inner compass pointed back to Atlanta, where he lends a hand at his older brother’s medical tech company to fund his band’s weekend performances. He’s amassed a hefty network of local musician pals (bassist Frank Keith IV, drummer Grafton Tanner and guitarist Clay Houle are his current brothers in arms), as well as some friends in high places.

Enter Matt Goldman of Glow in the Dark studios, who met Stone and crew years ago when they came to his facilities to record with his intern. After Goldman had wrapped his regular work, his ears led him to Stone’s grooving piano-thick march “War.”

“I guess the drummer we had brought wasn’t up to par. So he stepped in, played drums on the song,” Stone recalls. “He ended up engineering and producing the whole thing.”

That version of “War” appears on Good Go Bad, which was ultimately fully produced by Goldman. It took awhile for Stone and this coveted hardcore studio whiz (Underoath, the Devil Wears Prada) to meet again, but when they did, the results were a sumptuous blend of dreamy rock and country-fried blues over 10 tracks.

Tedo Stone is road-testing these numbers this summer throughout the Midwest and South— a jaunt this wanderlustful lad is greatly anticipating.

“Piling up in a van with your buddies and seeing the countryside is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. Even not our own music— just going with friends and stuff. Obviously, there’s a lot more business, a lot more things to get done on the road, but I kind of like the idea of being detached or not being in one spot. That’s just where I am right now in my life.”

(Norwegian music blog) Positive review in Norwegian
Tedo STONE “Good Go Bad”

One can safely say that the expectations from last year’s EP, “Happy”, are fulfilled when Stone finally debuts with a full length album. As the EP we talk about the soul. This time maybe not so much country soul. Nor perhaps more towards rock soul. As Stones at times was so great exponent of the beginning and middle of the 70th century. And small fine technical heimehøyrande on the wrong side of the fence in the 80 century. But here they worked particularly well. With a vocalist who reminds of all things Marc Bolan. But having said that, Tedo Stone has a voice that fits their own legs and is extremely original. The man is also what I would call a gudebenåda songwriter.

With him on this great album has its permanent bassist, Billy Lyons, and the Grammy-winning producer Matt Goldman on drums. Stone stands for pretty much everything else of instrumentation.

“Big As The Ocean,” which opens the album, Lenar at most the 70 century. Halfway uptempo with lots of guitars and superb organ. And a great sense of his soul. More detests and calmer on “Good Go Bad”. But the increasing pressure gradually and section situated among which eventually shows up is on this.

And I’ll use the word unfortunately in this message so it here. Unfortunately this is the only song on the album with section situated among. The lifts the song incredibly well. “Taste” makes me forget it. Here the user rather than keyboard / synthesizer in a way that makes me forget the 80s. The actual song is a bit more bounce, however. During the first five seconds of “Who” makes me think of “Sexual Healing”. And here they go all the way with a drum machine and synthesizer. But as an addition to Stone’s great lydbilete.

“Back Again” is almost on the border of the sheet. But eventually feiande great. Soul Vals. He takes it, to say the least, way down on the “Circles”. A nice little show played on the ukulele. And spelled out on an iPhone on Hawaii. Naked to say the least. “High” is Stone back soul groove. Again with a lot of great organ and guitar play well. “Time” is the album’s ballad. With piano as leading instrument. And simply just marvelous. The piano follows us into the “War”. Here he sounds almost like Supertramp. But with lasting value. “Downtown” which concludes the album has lasting value, especially when he heave out in the chorus for the second time. And perhaps the album’s heaviest and most rocking song. All the best. As enough once shows that the worst trick from the 80s can work well. Here in drum sound. Properly canned. But a great song makes me forget all complaint.

For objection here are few, if not non-existing. Nok a great album from the American South.

(online music blog) – Positive review with GGB & BATO audio streams
Tedo Stone – Good Gone Bad
This is American Music is fast becoming an American institution, well deserved press coverage lately the label features some of the finest up and coming bands you’ve yet to hear of unless of course you’re paying attention. Tedo Stone being one of them, following up on the excellent, well-received EP last year the follow up is his first full length, ‘Good Go Bad’, released earlier this month. The story that accompanies the making of the album reads like an epic discovered in a soda shop tale. Frequent readers know I like bands rich in influences yet original enough those influences are like wisps of a passing dream, Tedo Stone is like that, hypnagogic vocals and catchy melodies familiar yet elusive.

“I think this album has a lot more personality and depth than anything I’ve done before,” Stone says of Good Go Bad. “For me, recording has a lot to do with documenting my time here on Earth. I don’t keep a diary or anything like that. But building a catalog and being able to look back and see where I’ve been in life and as a songwriter, that’s important to me.”

(Dubuque online A&E site) – Brief show mention
The Lift, 180 Main St, Dubuque
TEDO STONE, 9 p.m. – midnight.
w/ Union Specific. [Discovery of the Week] Tedo Stone’s new album “Good Go Bad is a striking statement of purpose and a staggering blend of complexities so artfully…

(online music blog) –  Positive post with band photo and Downtown mp3 (via Baby Robot).
Exclusive Stream: Tedo Stone – “Downtown”
Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with Tedo Stone, the Atlanta-based musician behind Good Go Bad, an Americana-pop charmer due out on This Is American Music on Tuesday, July 9th. Tedo and company are currently in the middle of a US tour in support of the album with dates continuing on into mid-August and beyond. Though it’s last minute, we wanted to give you a sneak peak of “Downtown”, one of the star tracks on an already thoroughly rocking album.
Enjoy “Downtown”, and make sure to pick up a copy of the new record and see the band as they continue their Summer 2013 tour.

(online music blog) – Positive post witjh band photo and Taste mp3.
so, georgia’s tedo stone has a new record out, his debut – i believe and its called good go bad, and let me tell ya, its pretty fantastic. granted, i have not listened to the entire thing, at this point, im on track 5, “back again,” but if it keeps up the way it is, no reason why not to say this is one of the best records of 2013. it reminds me an more rocked out version of destroyer’s streethawk: a seduction which was it almost more bowie, than bowie is. strangely enough, i actually stopped liking said band after this record. anyway, definitely check this young man out, i can almost guarantee it you’ll dig it, unless you hate music of course.
buy it here and check his site cause he’s touring like a sob

(online music podcast show) – “Good Go Bad” & “Back Again” aired on Episode 193.

(Cincinnati online music blog) –  Photo gallery from Fountain Square show

(Madison weekly) –  Show preview (from press announcement with press quotes)
Trapper Schoepp & the Shades, Tedo Stone, Frankie Lee this Sat at UW Memorial Union-Terrace,800 Langdon St. Madison!

(online music site) – Positive review with album art, three audio streams and video
Good Go Bad: Tedo Stone’s Promising Debut
Tedo Stone
Good Go Bad
This Is American Music

The beat with which Tedo Stone’s debut LP Good Go Bad opens – on a song called “Big as the Ocean” – immediately recalls Charlie Watts. Indeed, Stone’s drummer, Grafton Tanner, plays with the same laid-back confidence that brought classic Stones’ songs and albums like “Honkey Tonk Women” and Exile on Main St. to life. But when Stone’s voice enters, the tune takes on more of a glam feel. The fuzzy guitars – in combination with the vocals and drums – make the song sound like Bolan fronting Faces.

But Stone doesn’t want Good Go Bad to be an exercise in idol worship, even though it occasionally sounds that way. He’s far more eclectic than that in the way he combines his influences. The title track is a mid-tempo pop song, with solid melodies in the verses and the choruses, and the horns have a beefy vibe that recalls Chicago.

On “Taste,” Stone distorts his lead vocals, and the song benefits from a keyboard riff that brings Good Go Bad from the 70s’ feel of the first two tracks to the 80s – but not completely. The new wave keyboards combine with Stone’s and fellow guitarist Clay Houle’s licks (they sound like Keith and Ronnie more than Keith and Mick Taylor) to generate a somewhat original sound. But the song retains the mellow groove of the first two cuts.

Stone bases “Who” on an 80s-sounding synth pattern and a folky acoustic guitar. Here his vocal sounds like Devendra Banhart. The vocal and electric guitar melodies, as well as the synth washes that enter, are truly beautiful. And because the tune is slower than the pervious three tracks, it breathes new life into the record and a much-needed change of pace.

“Back Again” returns to the glam rock elements of “Big as the Ocean.” It sounds like one of those slow 50s’ parodies that Bowie plays on Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. But Stone plays it straight – and it’s good to see him abandoning the influence of The Rolling Stones. I can imagine kids dancing to this track in some futuristic time when sock hops come back into style.

“Circles” begins with a delicately played acoustic and whole lot of echo on Stone’s voice. The song sounds like homemade folk – and definitely is a change of pace from the rest of the record. It’s the most intimate sounding song in the set. It’s also the most introspective. “Circles” makes you realize that Stone can take his music in any direction he wants and excel. He could just as easily fit on a bill with Banhart, Andrew Bird, and Joanna Newsom as he could with T. Rex and The Stones.

But Good Go Bad never sits still for long – it’s that eclectic, functioning both as a Stone-created Spotify playlist and an old-time jukebox. On “High,” Tanner and bassist Frank Keith IV lay down a terrific groove, over which Stone sings a catchy melody and the guitars shine. It’s the first true pop song on the record – and it’s wonderful.

“Time” returns Stone to the balladry of “Back Again,” has a terrific vocal melody, and shares that song’s 50s’ vibe. But – again – the lyrics are more earnest than what Bowie and his contemporaries did with similar sounds during the glam period. But the best part of the song is when Stone and Houle step on their pedals and add some powerful, organ-backed blasts of guitar. “Time” is a great song.

“War” – the penultimate song on the record – clocks in at 5:10, which is a significantly longer running time than the rest of the songs on Good Go Bad. At its heart, the tune is a piano ballad that has a sort of Elton John vibe at the beginning – but the song becomes ominous as the guitars and drums escalate its intensity. The distorted guitars, in particular, transform this song, which could have settled into standard piano balladry, into something more special.

Stone closes the album with a track called “Downtown,” which begins with his voice and an electric guitar. The song builds as Tanner’s solid beat enters (you can imagine fans at a gig clapping to this one). But then Tanner changes the rhythmic pattern, and synths and glam-era guitars enter. Stone’s vocal melody makes the song anthemic, as does the guitar solo – the best on the record (even though it sounds a tad like Oasis).

Ultimately, a record like Good Go Bad is a double-edged sword. It’s cool to see an artist amalgamating his influences into such a cool, eclectic brew – and it’s terrific to see an artist who’s willing to experiment with various influences. But the downside is that it’s obvious that Stone – despite the high quality of his songs – hasn’t discovered his voice yet. The easiness with which one picks out his influences makes this obvious.

All in all, Good Go Bad is a solid debut effort that’s packed with great tunes. Let’s just hope that it promises a future when the influences become less transparent and Stone’s own musical voice comes to the fore a bit more.—Paul Gleason

(online music site) – Positive review with album art, three audio streams and video
REVIEW: Tedo Stone – Good Go Bad
Not yet familiar with Tedo Stone?  I can’t fault you.  A month ago I had never heard of Mr. Stone either.  But when I received Good Go Bad from the lovely folks at Atlanta’s This is American Music, I paid attention.  And while the national music press hasn’t been rushing out with reviews, I think they are missing the boat here.  After listening, I happily resigned myself to rearranging my publication schedule to make room for it.  There is genuine talent here, and this would be a good time to catch the Tedo wave.

So what is compelling about Good Go Bad?  On major positive is the vocals.  Tedo is blessed with a soulful, high-timbre croon that is captivating and warm.  The band, Stone — Clay Houle, Frank Keith IV, and Grafton Tanner — can buzz, riff and chunk like a mix of ’70s rock and classic southern rock, but they dial it down adeptly for slow tempo numbers, relying on restrained arrangements and Stone’s voice.  In fact, despite some writers emphasizing the ’70s rock influence, to my ears the entirety of Good Go Bad has more of a soulful storytelling vibe than a hard hitting rock album (although I’m left with no doubt that this band can shake the walls of a live venue).  Overall, there is a plenitude of diversity on display, and this group is consistently impressive at any volume or speed.

The album begins with “Big As The Ocean”, featuring a percussion introduction and then layering in the vocals and guitars.  It is an assured beginning, and displays the band’s talent to rock.  The proceedings dial back for the title track, which wears its southern influence on its sleeve —

The third track, “Taste” showcases much of what is so great about this album.  It has the swagger of T. Rex, melodic guitar riffs and some psychedelic swirl–

The next few songs showcase the restrained soulful storytelling.  I think the best of them is “Back Again”, which is presented here in a video of a live acoustic performance.

One of my favorite tracks is “High”, which relies on excellent vocal supported by an intriguing drum beat and an organ —

The album ends well, with three strong tracks — “Time”, “War” and “Downtown”

Good Go Bad is out today on This Is American Music.

(Athens weekly) – Brief show preview.
Caledonia Lounge
9:30 p.m. $5 (21+), $7 (18-20).
TEDO STONE Rootsy Atlanta-based Americana band with a touch of psychedelic fuzziness Fri. July 26th

(Chicago-based online music blog) – “Back Again” and “ Good Go Bad” mp3s  featured in their 7/8/13 Pick Your Poison.

(online music blog) – Positive post with album art, and related links.
Tedo Stone — Good Go Bad
I know that you’re supposed to judge art on its own merit, but sometimes an artist’s backstory makes for good reading. And it makes their work that much better. Tedo Stone’s debut album, Good Go Bad, is one of those works.
According to the press materials, Stone’s whispy voice and obvious adulation of ’70s rock captured the ears of famed producer Matt Goldman at a late-night recording session. The rest, as they say, is history.

But that’s not what’s compelling about Tedo Stone’s story (though I’m glad it happened.) To raise money for the record, Stone worked at his brother’s medical supply company, delivering oxygen tanks to elderly people coming home from the hospital. The side job led to the nuanced perspectives on youth and mortality presented on Good Go Bad.

This is a hell of a debut album. The songs sound great, sure. But unlike most ’70s glam rock, Stone’s music is smart and will make you think about Things. And that’s a great place to start.

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with album art, tour dates and related links.

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with band photo, tour dates and related links.
Tedo Stone’s Debut LP ‘Good Go Bad’ Out Today

(online music site) Positive album review
TEDO STONE/Good Go Bad:  This sound wild.  It’s like Al Kooper meets Gurf Morlix and they found a new Lucinda Dylan to give it all voice (I could have said Bob Williams, but would you have really gotten it?).  Tasty rocked up nu Americana that goes the distance and stands it’s ground., this is a fun diversion that takes what it does seriously without taking itself too seriously.  Not all dive bar bands have to sound so dire to make their point.  Hurray for these guys taking the high road.

(online music blog)
Eight ATL Records to Listen for in July
By Moe Castro
Tedo Stone – Good Go Bad
Release Date: July 9
Label: This is American Music
Retro rocker Tedo Stone is prepping the release of his debut full length, Good Go Bad, due out July 9 via This is American Music. It will be available on CD and through most digital retailers.

(Chicago internet radio) – Live in-studio session Sat. June 28th at 1pm cst.
06.29.13 – 1:00 p.m. cdt
Tedo Stone’s music never ceases to fuse throw-back sounds (primarily of the 1960’s) with a keen sense of contemporary resonance.
In fact, his seemingly effortless eclecticism perhaps stands out most, as he places psychedelic rock, soul, blues, country, and even sometimes electronic music all under one roof.

DO 608
Saturday Night on the Terrace: Trapper Schoepp and the Shades w/ Frankie Lee and Tedo Stone
Tedo Stone, a soulful americana singer from Atlanta, GA, will open the show with his special brand of “carpe-diem passion.”
You won’t want to miss this one.
Saturday, July 13th,  9:30 PM, FREE

(online music site) – Positive post with band photo and Taste mp3
Tedo Stone – US TOUR & New Album
Posted by Sean Pritchard
If Tedo Stone gets any free time these next few months, he’ll be a lucky man. He and his band just embarked on a tour that has them zig-zagging across the Southeast and the Midwest, including a recording session with Daytrotter and a show at Cincinnati’s now-famed Fountain Square. Along with that, Tedo’s debut studio album, Good Go Bad, is set to be released via This Is American Music on July 9th. And more tour dates follow that.

I caught the band’s recent set at Green Room during AthFest. In ways, it reminded me of the very first time I saw him play close to two years ago at The Hummingbird in Macon. His music has the same raw pulse now as it did then, only the members of the band read each other better.

“Taste“, the single from Good Go Bad, is part bedroom-blues and part-garage-angst, melodic and charming without losing its edge. I can only imagine how good the rest of the album will be given Tedo’s previous work and the band he’s working with now.
Tedo Stone 2013 US Tour Dates
6/28 – Firehouse Pizza (Normal, IL)
6/29 – Chicago house party
7/1 – Daytrotter session (Rock Island, IL)
7/9 – American Roots Series @ Fountain Square (Cincinnati, OH)
7/10 – Rumba Cafe (Columbus, OH)
7/12 – Firehouse Pizza (Normal, IL)
7/13 – UW Madison Terrace (Madison, WI)
7/23 – PK’s (Carbondale, IL)
7/25 – Cosmic Charlie’s (Lexington, KY)
[more dates to be announced soon]

(UK online music site) – Positive post with band photo and Taste mp3
Meet Tedo Stone
Tedo Stone and his backing band play the southern American version of Britain’s indie pop: hazy, layered, lightly psychedelic, perfect for anywhere and anything hot. A full album is on the way called ‘Good So Bad’, in early July and there’s going to be a US tour, but here and now you can hear ‘Taste’, which err, gives you a taste. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

(online music site) – Video interview featured.

FARONHEIT (online Chicago music blog) – “Taste” mp3 featured in their 6/26/13 Pick Your Poison .

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with band photo, tour dates and related links.

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with band photo, tour dates and related links.

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with band photo, tour dates and related links.
Tedo Stone To Release Debut Studio Album “Good Go Bad” July 9th Through This Is American Music

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with band photo, tour dates and related links.
Tedo Stone’s Debut LP ‘Good Go Bad’ Out, 7/9

(online music site and weekly music industry newsletter) – News post with album art, tour dates and related links.
Tedo Stone to release debut Studio album “Good Go Bad” 7/9 through This Is American Music!


(National music magazine) – “Heartbreaker” featured MP3 AT 3PM with photo and positive post.
MP3 At 3PM: Bonnie Whitmore
Originating as a songstress in the Americana lands of Denton, Texas, Bonnie Whitmore just put out the follow-up to Embers To Ashes. Her new LP, There I Go Again, swings more on the positive side of life, rather than its breakup/heartbreak predecessor. Ironically enough, download the latest single off the album, “Heartbreaker,” below. – See more at:

(online music site): Positive 8/10 album review.
Bonnie Whitmore: There I Go Again
By Andrew Gilstrap
As many have pointed out, 2013 has been a pretty good year for young female country artists. Kacey Musgraves, Holly Williams (granddaughter of Hank Williams), Ashley Monroe, and Caitlyn Rose are just a few of the musicians who have released strong albums this year. Another newcomer, Brandy Clark, who co-wrote a song with Musgraves, has her own highly-anticipated record coming soon. If there’s one name that needs to be added to that list, though, it’s Bonnie Whitmore.

Whitmore is the sister of Eleanor Whitmore, who forms half of husband/wife duo the Mastersons, whose Birds Fly South album was one of 2012’s best Americana efforts. Eleanor and husband Chris Masterson offer Bonnie plenty of help on There I Go Again, supplying everything from backing vocals to guitars, violins, pedal steel, and more. Both Eleanor Whitmore and Masterson are experienced hired hands, having worked with acts like Son Volt, Kelly Willis, and Steve Earle, but there’s a real sense of musical sympathy when they team up with Bonnie.

For all that family chemistry, though, this is firmly Bonnie Whitmore’s record. She’s a take-no-prisoners kind of singer—think of clear-voiced artists like Tift Merritt or Aimee Mann—who can cover a lot of vocal ground (she often performs with Hayes Carll, providing raucous counterpoint on his drunken hook-up duet “Another Like You”). With There I Go Again, she also shows an evolution from the Americana sound that defined her previous release, 2011’s promising and enjoyable Embers to Ashes. Here, she’s moved beyond a strict Americana sound and taken on more pop leanings. That’s pop that keeps its twang and growl, though, in a way that’s reminiscent of Tom Petty.

Perhaps most impressive about Whitmore’s songwriting—and singing—is her unique way of going from a no-nonsense kiss-off with bite like “Heartbreaker” (“You ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker / You ain’t nothing but a reason to cry”) to a tender love song. Lots of singers can do that, of course, but the imagery in a song like “Colored Kisses” is especially noteworthy when Whitmore sings lyrics like “Hold us under the water colors / We can tangle each other in these sheets / I will stencil you with my fingers / You can color me in your kisses.” Later, she brings it home with “let’s try living and breathing / as a new form of healing / I will sing in mermaid tones / but please don’t turn me to sea foam.” This is the same songwriter who left at least two men dead on Embers to Ashes.

In the end, Whitmore might chafe at being lumped in with the latest group of Nashville starlets, or of even being labelled “country”. Even having just turned 30, she’s been playing music and performing for nearly as long as some members of the new crop have has been alive. The hope that many listeners lay on that group, though, are that they’ll finally return some small part of Nashville away from the booming country-rock machine it’s become and stake out a claim for songwriting and personal artistic visions again. In that sense, Whitmore very much belongs in the company of any group whose members aren’t afraid of being accessible, as long as it allows them to stay on their own paths. To this listener, Whitmore is very much part of a groundswell of talent that shows no signs of letting up, who should be penning insightful tales of life—and singing them well—for years to come.

(West Virginia daily) – Feature/interview to preview WV show.
Singer-songwriter to appear at The Purple Fiddle
August 17, 2013
By Chad Clem
Austin-based Americana singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore will play at The Purple Fiddle Monday, and the Texas native says she’s looking forward to making her way back to the Mountain State.

Whitmore, a nationally recognized performing artist, is touring with the roots rock and R&B band, Somebody’s Darling, to support her recently released sophomore album “There I Go Again.” The album, which was released June 11, is being described by No Depression magazine as “a heady mix of modern Country and Mountain Music” and by Blog Critics as “crammed full of soulful, insistent Americana, with sharp-edged songs reminiscent of Tom Petty.”

Originally, from Denton, Texas, Whitmore said the last time she’s traveled to West Virginia the state left quite an impression on her.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said in a telephone interview with The Inter-Mountain Thursday. “The scenery and the people, you get the feeling like it is all a very well-kept secret nestled in the mountains.”

Whitmore said she prefers intimate venues, such as the one at The Purple Fiddle because it is “easier to hold the energy of the room.”

Born into a talented family – her father, a rock/pop musician and her mother, a trained opera singer – music is in Whitmore’s blood. Performing in her father’s band when she was only 8 years old, she claims he helped shape her taste in music and her desire to be a performer.

“It’s interesting growing up with a family that is always performing.” Whitmore said. “My dad would be performing a song by Roy Orbison, Chuck Barry or The Beatles and as a kid I’d just think it was his. For all I knew, he had written all of those classics. At least he played them like they were his.”

Though she claims her roots are firmly planted in country music, she also dabbles in bluesy sounds and influences from the rock and pop music culture. Whitmore draws inspiration from many different sources, using music as an outlet for her to focus her experiences into something more, embracing and utilizing some darker subjects to express herself.

“It took me a long time to write a love song,” Whitmore said of her songwriting. “I’m more drawn to the underdog stories. But sometimes life is more complicated than happy endings.”

Touring with Whitmore is the self-proclaimed “roots rock” band, Somebody’s Darling. The five piece-band, from Dallas, Texas, includes lead singer and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris, lead guitarist David Ponder, Michael Talley on keyboards and back-up vocals, Wade Cofer on bass guitar and Nate Wedan on drums.

Farris said the band was looking forward to its first gig in West Virginia. This is their first tour with Whitmore, who Farris said had the “same vibe” as Somebody’s Darling.

“She’s a born performer and a good lead woman,” Farris told The Inter-Mountain via telephone.”Her music really complements our classic rock style and classic ballad style.”

Inspired by the sounds of popular rock talents like Stevie Ray Vaughn, their music has been described as a “proudly messy blend of rock and country with a roiling rhythm that rips out of the speakers like a wild night on the town” by

“Being on the road, we try to have a plate of songs on the table at all times,” Farris said. “We are looking forward to what West Virginia has to offer.”

There is a cover charge of $8 for the show. For more information, check out or

(Chicagoland online music site) – Positive show preview for St. Charles and Chicago shows.
This Week’s Picks: Austin-based Americana: Landing somewhere at the crossroads of country and Americana, Bonnie Whitmore is earning comparisons to Lucinda Williams, Neko Case and even Stevie Nicks. Aside from sounding like a southern angel, her self-penned lyrics throughout “There I Go Again” (This Is American Music) are cut in the classic storyteller tradition, racking up raves from CMT Edge, No Depression and hometown papers like the Austin Chronicle. Friday, August 16 at House Pub: and Saturday, August 17 at Tonic Room:

(St. Charles, IL daily) – Feature interview to preview St. Charles show.
Bonnie Whitmore to bring Americana sound to St. Charles
Singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore has garnered comparisons to music legends like Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams.

The Austin-based musician will bring her Americana sound Friday, Aug. 16, to The House Pub, 16 S. Riverside Ave., St. Charles. Somebody’s Darling also is on the bill, and the show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Whitmore about her music.

Eric Schelkopf: Your sophomore album, “There I Go Again,” came out in June. I understand you turned to Kickstarter to raise the money to finance the record.
Bonnie Whitmore: It was really great. It was a real honest way of kind of just going to my fans and friends.

It was a great way to get the affirmation and to have a lot of people willing to support us and take part in it. It kind of just gives you a little more confidence and affirmation of what you are doing when people are willing to show their support.

There was a great crew of people that got to play on the record, with Chris Masterson producing it. My sister Eleanor, she is part of the band The Mastersons, and they lent their beautiful talents to it, as well as some other Austin artists.

We made a really good record, and I’m proud of it. Everything with this record is the contribution of everybody, not just myself.

ES: What does the album’s title refer to?
BW: “There I Go Again” is a song from the record. This record is my second full-length record.

Music, I think, in general, is not the easiest career path that you can make. I feel a lot of the songs on the album refer to just being willing to be true to yourself and do what you love and do what is going to make you happy. Let the rest of it work itself out.

ES: You started performing in your father’s band, I understand.
BW: He’s the reason why I started playing bass guitar. It was a really good way to get to know and meet people, and play with certain people.

It was really great to have a family band and be able to sing and play with my dad and my mom and my sister, and all of us together. It was what we knew growing up.

You don’t realize how special that is when you are in it. Not everybody’s dad taught their children to play instruments and actually book the shows in order for them to play the instruments.

ES: But you don’t feel like you were forced in the business?
BW: I didn’t come to it as honestly as someone who found an instrument and learned to play it because they loved it.

We were sort of raised to become musicians. But it wasn’t like a mandatory scenario. It was just what we did.

My parents were not surprised it was the career path that we did, in fact, take. It was either going to be that or be a pilot. That’s what we grew up with.

But now we are both very satisfied in our life choices and love being able to do it.

ES: Your music has been compared to people like Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. Do you consider those people influences?
BW: Not necessarily. I appreciate those comparisons.

If I had to compare myself to somebody, I aspire more to be like Bonnie Raitt and Tom Petty.

But my mom and dad are my biggest influences.

(Jackson, TN daily): Photo gallery from live show.
Bonnie Whitmore played Wednesday evening at the Downtown Tavern. Whitmore recently released her second album, “There I Go Again.” MEGAN SMITH/The Jackson Sun

(Jackson, TN daily) – Show preview
Bonnie Whitmore to perform in Jackson
Austin, Texas-based Americana singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore will perform in Jackson at 9 p.m. today at the Downtown Tavern, at 208 N. Liberty St. She will perform with Somebody’s Darling, an Americana/indie band from Dallas.
Both groups are on national tours, according to a news release. Whitmore’s tour is in support of her recently released sophomore album, “There I Go Again,” out now through This Is American Music.

Somebody’s Darling has a record — “Jank City Meltdown” — that came out last year.

(online Podcast Radio): RecKless & Young and Cryin Out For Me aired on on Aug 10th

(Fort Collins, CO Public Radio): Heartbreaker aired on Scott Foley’s “Routes & Branches” show on Aug 10th

(St. Charles weekly) – Show preview from press release

(Athens weekly) – “Calendar Pick” (older stock) show preview with photo
Bonnie Whitmore
w/ Some Dark Holler, Matt Hudgins and His Shit-Hot Country Band
Friday, July 13 @ 40 Watt Club
Self-sufficiency finds new meaning in Bonnie Whitmore. The woman can write her own songs, fly her own plane and even knock off her own embittered lovers—or at least pose a convincing threat.

Whitmore’s music career began at the impressionable age of eight, when she joined her father’s folk band, the aptly named Daddy & the Divas. Daddy, a licensed pilot, flew the family around its home state of Texas to showcase his genetic musical wonders. Bonnie played bass and cello, while her sister Eleanor learned violin.

Whitmore began writing songs of her own in her early teenage years. “I’d like to say that being an independent artist is completely different than playing with my family,” she says, “but it’s not, really, [except]  that I don’t tend to argue with myself, and I sing lead on all my songs.”

Indeed, even as a solo performer, Whitmore maintains her familial ties. She collaborates frequently with Eleanor; her brother-in-law, former Son Volt guitarist Chris Masterson, produces her music; and she tours with her boyfriend, guitarist Chris Porter of Some Dark Holler. Meanwhile, at least once a year, the Whitmores have a family band reunion.

Although her sultry Southern voice and country sound pay rightful homage to her roots, her music reflects an angst all her own. Rather than give in to self-pity or sorrow, her album, Embers to Ashes, is vengeful, even murderous. While Whitmore may not have actually committed any of the capital offenses she alludes to in her music, she attributes her lyrical violence to the depth of her affection, saying, “If you’ve never had any type of homicidal tendencies, then you’ve never really been in love.”

This seasoned veteran’s experience both in love and music—two things not always independent of one another—is sure to make for a rowdy show.

(Chicago Internet Radio) unplugged in-studio 3pm  Sat. Aug. 17th

(online NYC A&E site) Show preview (with older Bonnie photo and bio)
Somebody’s Darling, Charlotte Cornfield, Bonnie Whitmore
August 22 : 7:30 p.m.
The RockShop Brooklyn, NY
After dropping out of the institution at the age of 15, Bonnie Whitmore has gone on to pursue her career as a professional performer. She has tried on several musical roles for size, including playing the bass, the cello, and most lucratively as freak show extraordinaire, impersonating a living and breathing jukebox for tourists. Born and bread as a musical performer, Bonnie has created a sound and voice of her own. She brings to every show a veracity of honest emotion and vulnerability.

Bonnie Whitmore may have a heart of gold, an outsize personality and a roof-raising laugh, but don’t be fooled: her debut album has a body count. No fewer than two men die by Bonnie’s own hand over the course of the record: one of them is burned alive, one the victim of a knife that, in Whitmore’s own words, “just slipped.” Take a look at that album cover and consider what secrets she’s trying to get you to keep quiet. And then think twice before you spill ’em. It’s all part of a grand plan – one methodically designed by Whitmore – from album cover, to album content. The songs concern themselves with the slow disintegration of a relationship, and the album’s title – Embers to Ashes – is meant to represent that story’s painful arc – from the first fires of young passion to the scorched ruin of heartbreak. As a killer, Whitmore’s the last you’d suspect: Embers to Ashes is full of sly, spry country music, whiskey-soaked songs that recall prime Loretta Lynn and early Neko Case and, in their more uptempo moments, Miranda Lambert at her rowdiest. But be warned: those revelers carry daggers, and there’s a bit of arsenic in that glass of cherry wine. As Whitmore herself puts it, “Nothing says ‘go to hell’ better than an uptempo, catchy song!” Whitmore learned her way around country music early, touring at the ripe old age of 8 with her parents and her sister in a traveling roadshow cheekily titled “Daddy & the Divas.” “Basically, my dad had children so he could have a band,” she jokes. “He really wanted a bass player, so I learned how to play bass. My sister played the violin.” Whitmore’s father has a pilot’s license – an accomplishment Whitmore herself would later achieve – so he’d fly the family to their gigs at remote Texas bars and overcrowded fall festivals. And though they were a family act, Bonnie often stole the show: “As a little girl with a big voice singing ‘Gold Dust Woman,’ a lot of times I’d get the biggest applause.” As much as she loved playing with her family, the older she got, the more she wanted to strike out on her own. “I started to realize that I loved playing music,” she says. “So when I was 16 I started writing my own songs.” As her teen years progressed, Whitmore began working as a session player with other local musicians, while still continuing to perform with her family from time to time. For her first proper statement as a solo artist, she wanted to do something conceptual – something that told a story from beginning to end. “I wanted to set up the album so it’s: ‘Boy meets girl, they breakup, but then there’s the kind of postscript. At the end of the album, you have to deal with the lingering memory of that lost love.” Whitmore realized that vision to a striking degree. The title track is the kind of rough-and-tumble country song that would do Kathleen Edwards proud, but its rollicking rhythms conceal a sinister message: “Well, the preacher said until death do us part/ so you’re gonna have to pay for this broken heart.” “Tin Man” barrels forward like vintage Liz Phair, Whitmore using the classic Wizard of Oz character to pillory a heartless ex. Its lyric is built on a sly double-entendre: “Replaced by a girl named Mary who shares my middle name” (Whitmore’s middle name is “Jane”). “She Walks” is a sparkling, mid-tempo number with all the ache of Lucinda Williams or Gillian Welch, while “Cotton Sheets” plays out like a bright update of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Passionate Kisses,” Whitmore cannily using its central metaphor to stand in for the tension between upper and lower class. She’s just as adept on the record’s softer numbers. “You Gonna Miss Me” is a slow ramble Whitmore wrote around the time she was moving from Texas for a brief stay in Tennessee. “I was really concerned about how leaving was going to be, and I think I was hopeful that I was going to be missed,” she explains. “Sometimes, if I’m really emotionally involved when I’m playing a show, this song can get me to the point where I’m almost in tears.” The album was cut in a marathon two-day session in the studio, guided by the sure hand of producer Chris Masterson. “Chris produced my sister’s record, Airplanes” Whitmore explains, “and it’s unbelievable the things that he pulled together when we worked together. He had such great vision -– he could hear sounds that weren’t there yet. I went into the studio with the intention of doing an EP, and he pushed me to do a full album.” The gambit paid off – Embers to Ashes is full of ragged, rugged, instantly memorable country songs, a document of a relationship where passion burns hot, bright and quickly, and danger looms like a thunderstorm in the distance. “I’m so grateful I have songwriting as an outlet, because it lets me relieve some of my darker emotions,” Whitmore explains. “Instead of going and maybe being a bit destructive, I just write songs instead. I know sometimes I write angsty songs, but that’s how I get the angst out.” Then she pauses and adds, with a wry smile, “Kinda makes you wonder about the people who write all those happy songs!”

(online music magazine) Tour news posted  with artist photo, press quotes and Heartbreaker mp3.
Bonnie Whitmore Shares Her Recent Single “Heartbreaker” as a Free MP3!

(online music magazine) Tour news posted  with artist photo, press quotes and Heartbreaker mp3.
Bonnie Whitmore Kicks Off Summer Tour In August In Support Of ‘There I Go Again’

(online music site) – News post on tour (from press release), with album art, tour dates and related links.

(Cincy music blog) Show preview from press release, with photo, Heartbreaker mp3 and tour dates
Bonnie Whitmore Performing At MOTR Pub on 8/18 In Support Of “There I Go Again”

(online Chicago music blog) – “Heartbreaker” featured in their 7/25/13 Pick Your Poison.

(online Americana music site) – Very positive album review with album art.
Bonnie Whitmore “There I Go Again”
[This Is American Music] ****
Another Americana Star is Born
Three weeks ago I’d never heard of Bonnie Whitmore; but a positive review of the Mastersons; of which Bonnie’s sister Eleanor is 50% meant I received this delightful surprise through the post yesterday.

Sometimes it can take me several plays of a record to get a taste for it; but with THERE I GO AGAIN it was during the first spin that I decided that I was now an unashamed fan.

Even without an array of songs that are really well written, interesting and intelligent Bonnie’s voice would still excite me if she was singing a telephone directory.

There is a richness and depth to her singing style that can only be equated to Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt and she is supported by a band that wants the listener to hear the singer without trying to steal any glory.

The title track There I Go Again opens the album and is the heady mix of modern Country and Mountain Music that so many singers coming out of Music Row have failed to achieve in the last 10 years (you know who I mean).
Heartbreaker is pretty much what it says on the tin; and Bonnie’s voice soars and sweeps not unlike Dionne Warwick did on her song of the same name; but this song is Americana right through to the core.

THERE I GO AGAIN is Bonnie Whitmore’s second album and, much like its predecessor was written on the back of a broken relationship; but this time she certainly isn’t feeling sorry for herself as Too Much Too Soon and Cryin’ Out For Me, which follows will testify. Whitmore isn’t sitting crying in the corner; she’s giving as good as she got in song.

I keep coming back to the rolling rootsy Borderline time and time again and I don’t know why; as it has all the hallmarks of a great Alt-Country song with the punchy drumbeat and organ groove; but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Mumford and Sons recorded it note for note.

The album ends with the wonderfully sweet and soulful Be The Death of Me; which features some clever acoustic guitar playing, but it’s the subtle mandolin breaks that made my hair stand on end.

As is the way of the World these days THERE I GO AGAIN is the product of a Kickstarter campaign and those who supported Ms. Whitmore can be assured that she won’t be Americana’s Best Kept Secret for much longer. –  Alan Harrison
Released 11th June 2013

(Texas monthly) Positive album review
[This Is American Music]
With There I Go Again, Austin’s Bonnie Whitmore continues to provide greater proof of the promise she’s been showing on the Texas music scene for years. While she’s spent much of her career to date playing as a side person for others (most notably Hayes Carll), Whitmore is very much her own artist at this juncture. If 2011’s stunning Embers to Ashes was Whitmore stretching her solo-legs, her new album is a triumphant sprint. Her voice is bolder now, and through tracks such as the smoky, country noir “Crying for Me,” she displays a great deal of authentic gumption instead of mere pistol-packed posturing. Further displaying her maturity, Whitmore goes moody-rock with the sensuous imagery of “Colored Kisses” set to a melodic, unobtrusive organ and crunchy, perfectly placed guitar bits. But given her folk-rich bloodline she shares with her both her singing father Alex and fiddle-playing older sister Eleanor, it’s no surprise that Whitmore shines especially bright when the There I Go Again’s rootsier elements kick in. “Too Much Too Soon,” a vulnerable wish to not fall too hard, soars with pedal steel, and both the title track and “Reckless and Young” rollick while letting the fiddle dance plenty. — KELLY DEARMORE

Discover Five New Acts From Austin
Brian T. Atkinson
Bonnie Whitmore opening for Hayes Carll one night during his February residency at Austin’s Cactus Café sliced hearts as much with their inspired banter as deep-browed songwriting. Songs debuted at the Cactus suggested Whitmore’s new There I Go Again will follow 2011’s Embers to Ashes with superb results.

(online music site) – News post on tour (from press release), with album art, tour dates and related links.

(Cincy music blog) Show preview from press release, with photo, Heartbreaker mp3 and tour dates
Bonnie Whitmore Performing At MOTR Pub on 8/18 In Support Of “There I Go Again”

(East Orland, ME Community Radio):  Spin of “Colored Kisses” on Brother Al’s “Morning Maine” show July 11th.

(Fort Collins, CO Public Radio):  Spin Cryin’ Out For Me on Scott Foley’s “Routes & Branches” show on July 6th

(online A&E site) – Positive album review with cover art.
Bonnie Whitmore’s voice shines on There I Go Again
By: Chris Martin
I have seen the latest record – There I Go Again – from Bonnie Whitmore classified as roots, Americana, country and a few other genres. After listening to the album several times I agree it is all of those. Her tunes are not only a well paired collection of words and music but are a treat to the ears. Her voice effortlessly moves from sweet southern to smoldering and sultry as she belts out songs dealing with life, love and regrets that are flushed with lyrics that are catchy and stick in your head like a hearty meal in your belly.

While the subject matter of her songs may not be anything original, her approach definitely is. She stays away from cliché song writing by delivering tunes that take on said subject matter in different ways. On “Heartbreaker” she doesn’t let us know the things the guy did to break her heart, just that he is a bad dude and it is just his nature. Commitment comes into play on “Too Much Too Soon”, but it is not what you think. She sings about falling in love but is uncertain if she is ready to offer up her love and maybe things are moving too fast. The album gets a little rowdy with “Reckless And Young” as she sings about the benefits of being young. Whitmore lays down the law to her man letting him know that he is going to love her so just accept it on the tune “You’re Going To Love Me”. (It made me think of the old Jayhawks song “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”.) My favorite track is the first one on the album, “There I Go Again” which is a look into never learning your lesson. I could go into more with the rest of the songs on the album but I need to leave some things a mystery so you will have to listen to them yourself.

Bonnie Whitmore is a very talented musician. While many of the female Southern singers today sound like clones of each other, Bonnie possess a sound that is fresh yet classic all at the same time. Her vocals drive the record as she shifts her range bringing true emotion to each word and this is the main reason There I Go Again is such a good record. Give it a listen you will dig it folks.

(online Americana music site)
The Greatest of the Great Unknowns
Bonnie Whitmore
Bonnie Whitmore’s latest CD ‘There I go Again’ was very positively reviewed by Alan Harrison last month in No Depression, who described her as ‘Americana’s Best Kept Secret’.

Funded via Kickstarter, the music and lyrics  of ‘There I Go Again’ are completely original but Whitmore’s voice has overtones of Stevie Nicks, the Dixie Chicks and even Lucinda Williams at times.

Bonnie Whitmore may still be unknown to many but she started writing songs at 16 and moved to Austin at 18, lived in Nashville for a while, and spent a year singing with Hayes Carll.  Chris Masterson (of The Mastersons) appears on and produced her latest CD, as he did her first CD ‘Embers to Ashes’.

(OK City, OK daily) – Simple show listing in Entertainment A-List for June 28th.
Bonnie Whitmore tonight at The Blue Door.

(Denton, TX daily) – Show preview in B.J. Huchtemann’s “Hoodoo “ music column with Hayes Carll w/ Bonnie video.
Whitmore’s latest still rootsy, but more grown up
Bonnie Whitmore
9 p.m. today at Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial, with Dawn and Hawks opening. $7

When Bonnie Whitmore was coming of age in Denton, she didn’t know exactly who some of her biggest influences were.

“I grew up playing bass in my dad’s band at Cappucino Cafe,” Whitmore said. “The variation of that question is hard to explain. My mom went to University of North Texas. She’s a classically-trained opera singer. My dad was a singer-songwriter. I was eight years old playing in my dad’s band at Cappucino Cafe. What I didn’t realize until I was older was that my dad liked the songs that he liked and just played them. I didn’t necessarily know that he was  playing song by Chuck Berry, or The Beatles.”

Whitmore said she grew up listening to singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne, and said the Traveling Wilburys provided the soundtrack for the Whitmore family’s road trips to Corpus Christi, which accounts for the traces of Tom Petty, George Harrison and Roy Orbison in There I Go Again, a radio-ready follow up to her 2011 release Embers to Ashes

Whitmore is treating her gig in Denton tonight as an official release party for her latest album.

‘There I Go Again’ is Denton native Bonnie Whitmore’s latest album. The full-length sets stories of perseverance and life after disappointment to mostly upbeat soundscapes. Whitmore plays Dan’s Silverleaf on Thursday, June 27, 2013.

‘There I Go Again’ is Denton native Bonnie Whitmore’s latest album. The full-length sets stories of perseverance and life after disappointment to mostly upbeat soundscapes. Whitmore plays Dan’s Silverleaf on Thursday, June 27, 2013.

“When you write your own songs, you never draw from one particular genre, I don’t think,” Whitmore said. “You use what you feel. You borrow, or pilfer, from everything you’ve ever really connected with, musically.”

The Austin-based artist said There You Go Again is much more of a celebration of music than Embers.

“Embers to Ashes was very much more personal,” she said. “I wrote that record for myself. I was going through a breakup. I was in a different place. There I Go Again is a different record. It’s more from the perspective that you fall and you pick yourself up.”

Some of the songs on the album have been simmering with Whitmore for about eight years. Others were written a few months ago. Chris Masterson, Whitmore’s brother-in-law and one-half of the huband-wife duo The Mastersons, produced the record. (Eleanor Whitmore joins Masterson and drummer Falcon Valdez tonight in the show.)   The result is a record that is still rootsy, but a lot less country than Embers. The record was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, which was affirmation to Whitmore that fans wanted to hear more from her.

“I essentially went to Chris Masterson with a variety of songs, and I think we knew what the core was,” she said. “There were some songs that didn’t make it. I think when you put a record together, you just want to be cohesive.”

The latest record follows themes of one-sided love and questionable risks, but musically, most tracks are up-tempo. A playful sense of pluck pervades the album. It starts with the title track, Whitmore’s confession of a gambler’s tendencies. It’s moves into “Reckless and Young,” an anthem about spirited (and sometimes spirit-soaked) escapades that are losing propositions to start with, but done with no regret. Things slow down for “Colored Kisses,” a tune about the all powerful pull of desire. Eventually, Whitmore insists “You’re Gonna Love Me.” Whitmore’s no angel in this record, but she’s woman enough to live with truth and consequence.

Whitmore said audiences have embraced “Borderline,” the one song on the album that gave her second thoughts.

“I love how well ‘Borderline’ has been accepted. That one can be taken the wrong way, people might be offended by it,” she said. “There’s a person I’ve known who has worked in a mental institution, and the song really came out of a conversation with them. We were talking about how borderline personality disorder is really difficult. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it, because they don’t have a personality disorder, but they do have a sickness.”

The song makes light of the topsy-turvy ride you can have when caught up with a person who might be “borderline” or just act like they have it.

“You write songs, but you don’t always know what’s going to happen with them.  Hays Carll has this song ‘She Left Me for Jesus,’ and I played with him on bass on a tour and we played it and this one person got really offended. You take chances with songs.  Not everybody’s going to like it. Whenever you’re dealing with humor, people are going to take it how they take it,” she said.

Whitmore said she adopts a humble posture after she puts a record out.

“I try to be a non-reactor. I think that changed for me as I’ve gotten older. I tend to have a way of consciously humbling myself, where I realize that there was a mistake here or lyrically and it just becomes a story to tell or a different perspective,” Whitmore said. “It’s still new. I haven’t quite found that chink in the armor or that extra little secret identity about it. I know it will, because it always seems to happen. I think it’s a little bit tighter sounding or a little more compressed in the sound mix.

“There I Go Again is a little bit more grown-up, more cohesive and fit together – there’s a little bit more clarity than on Embers to Ashes. I still love that record. It has a lot of positive energy going into it. That Kickstarter, that all these people are supporting my art, that put everything in a different perspective. On Embers to Ashes, I was needing to get my voice heard. One thing I’ve never allowed myself to do – some people make a record and there not really happy with it.  I’ve never done that. Both of my records, by and large, I like. I’m happy with both of them. I love these songs and I love how they came together. I don’t have anything really negative to say, and that’s not bullshit.”

Track by track

“Colored Kisses” — As one of the few slow numbers on There I Go Again, “Colored Kisses” is a steamy song that draws one long, pretty metaphor for romantic intimacy. “I was singing in mermaid tongues/But please don’t turn me to sea foam/I disappear in the sea foam.” Nothing fussy or esoteric here. “Colored Kisses” is about getting pulled under currents and surrendering to fingertips. The song is a sign of a mature songwriter who knows how to ebb, flow and tie up a song with a pretty, if predictable, resolution.”

“The Gavel” — A relationship is about to come to a bitter end in this blues-tinged number. A strong bass line and well-placed banjo phrases give this song of suspended animation a dusty-but-timeless quality that ends with the artist singing “I keep waiting” a cappella.

“Reckless and Young” — Whitmore could have wrapped this song, put a bow on top and offered it to Tom Petty for his treatment of the laidback, devil-may-care song.It’s about messing up and then getting on with life, and Whitmore delivers it with just the right amount of wry, oh-well spirit.

– Lucinda Breeding

(Omaha music blog) – Show preview IN B.J. Huchtemann’s “Hoodoo “ music column with Hayes Carll w/ Bonnie video.
And BONNIE WHITMORE playing a special show at Barley Street Tavern Sunday, June 30, 6 p.m. You’ve seen her on tour and on Austin City Limits with Hayes Carll. Catch her solo show up close and personal at The Barley Street in Benson!

(Omaha weekly) – Show preview with Bonnie photo
Bonnie Whitmore
Austin singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore is at Barley Street for an early show Sunday, June 30, 6 p.m. Whitmore has appeared in Omaha with Hayes Carll, both opening and backing him on bass and vocals. She has also appeared on Austin City Limits with Carll. Whitmore is a solo artist with a beguiling presence, fine songs and emotive voice. She’ll be doing a duo show at the Barley with her fiddle player as they head north for a Canadian tour. Whitmore just released There I Go Again (This Is American Music). See

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(online music blog) – “Too Much Too Soon” mp3 featured as Top June Songs.
Top June Songs
2. Bonnie Whitmore – “Too Much Too Soon”
Whitmore There I Go Again is a gem of an alt-country record that’s flown under a lot of radars, but is worth seeking out. She’s made it easy for you, offering the insanely catchy “Too Much Too Soon” as a gateway drug/free download.

(Americana Radio show on Fort Collins public radio) – Positive review with album art and a spin of “Cryin’ Out For Me”
Seem just yesterday I was singing the praises of the lil’ This Is American Music label on these pages.  Well, apparently they do these things in batches, because we’re about to be gifted with another couple gems.  With a promising covers release from Hurray For the Riff Raff in the wings, TIAM also sends Bonnie Whitmore our way.

There’s been a good deal of talk lately about how 2013 will be remembered as the year of the female country artist.  Folks will generally mention Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe, generally throwing in some combo of Caitlin Rose, Holly Williams, a couple Pistol Annies and maybe Kim Richey or Patty Griffin for good measure.  In truth, I think it’s all a matter of our short musical attention span.  Women have always held a strong place in the worlds of country and americana.  We just might not be paying good attention …

Anyhow, please add to your list of Excellent Country Women Bonnie Whitmore from Denton, TX.  Her 2nd album, released on This Is American Music, is a remarkably consistent batch of tough but tuneful songs.  Wielding a voice as strong as any of the aforementioned singers, there are several tracks on There I Go Again that might find a foothold on mainstream country radio, if mainstream country radio actually played country music.  Produced by Chris Masterson (of Mastersons fame), the album boasts a solid and mature sound that migrates effortlessly from more folky to “alt” and edgy. Whitmore wrote or cowrote every song on There I Go Again, achieving Kim Richey or Patty Griffin-esque moments at her best.  While there is a good chance Bonnie Whitmore won’t appear on the radar of some of these “year of the country woman” pieces, her new work certainly deserves the accolades.

(Norwegian roots music site) – Very positive album review in Norwegian
Bonnie Whitmore – There I Go Again
This is as far as I can see her third album. The previous Embers To Ashes was pretty traditional country music, but she has this record gone a little further.

Whitmore has followed the dream of becoming a professional musician since she was 15 She has played bass and cello, sung in Hayes Carll’s band. She has also been involved in a freak show where she, with great success, imitated a living jukebox. But lately she has remained with the couple in The Mastersons, where her sister Eleanor is detached half. Both the tournament and disc recordings. Chris Masterson and has produced this album. At the same time as it is the same gang that took part in last year’s fine Birds Fly South by The Mastersons which stands for music making.

This time she turned more towards Tom Petty than Hank Williams. She has let the organ fill some of hola steel guitar usually takes care of. The sound is more pop and rock, and the songs are more oriented chorus.

And just tunes here well worth writing home about. Where she went from hot coals to ash at Embers to Ashes from 2011 and goes out, it is now time to stand up again. And with “There I Go Again” shows she again she really is time again. Nice organ driven americana. With a lot of nice violin from Eleanor Whitmore. Very tastefully played. Dominant without dominating. “Heartbreaker” is a half-tempo song with some bluesy guitar. And this changes the mood. It reminds ho about the wonderful Swedish artist Ebba Forsberg. More violin on “Reckless And Young.” Here in interaction with an electric guitar. Again very nice, both. A little faster. “Colored Kisses” slows down the pace. And pulls slowly over you. The organ in the main role. As the foundation and seal coat. Tough and detests.

“Too Much Too Soon” is neither the sole nor the other. Neither too much or too early, ie. Just a wonderful, wonderful half-tempo song with great violin solo. It is even more cadence in “Cryin ‘Out For Me”. A little wall between accompaniment that gets lucky firmly in place all vege. Season with fine violin and electric guitar. “You’re Gonna Love Me” opens with piano calm before the shoot fast with fresh organ present. In addition to the mandolin as lies and controls. It is almost småfunky on “The Gavel”. With a tough banjo as lies and stresses along the way, together with the organ. Plata takes a little sidetrack here. But one great one. “Borderline” contains a bit stuck in the småfunky. But here eventually violin really romp, in addition to the organ takes a little guy eventually. The pace is roa way down at the finish “Be The Death Of Me.” And has the acoustic guitar in the main role. But rumors of her death is of course greatly exaggerate. It is just beautiful and special feeling was.

This is an album I’ve been waiting anxiously for the long time. Ever since she launched a Kickstarter project last October. But now finally the record available to the wide audience. And it should get this album. A large audience.
It is completely sovereign.
Buy Online – Listen in Spotify

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(Austin A&E blog) – Austin show preview
Bonnie Whitmore @ Cactus Cafe Wed 06/26
Doors: 8pm Show: 8:30pm General Admission: $10.00 CD RELEASE SHOW! Special Guest: Chris Porter Bonnie Whitmore’s last album had a body count and a title, “Embers to Ashes,” that implied a fiery finality. There are broken bones and hard lessons learned on Whitmore’s new album, but its title – “There I Go Again” – suggests less ominous themes. “I feel like I’ve grown up a lot,” she says. “I just turned 30 this year, and I’ve been in the business 15 of those years. There’s been this humbling aspect to my writing, this attempt to make the songs in a way that’s singable and relatable. It’s not as selfish as ‘Embers,’ which was a record I needed to do to get through that period of my life. This one’s more a celebration of some successes but also learning from failures. Plus, nobody wants to hear two breakup albums in a row.” Fittingly, the music also reflects a radiant change of direction. The rootsiness of “Embers” isn’t absent, but the songs are decidedly less country sounding. Keyboards are played up in places a steel guitar might have inhabited, the drums are more prominent, and Whitmore lets her big voice run through some big, inviting choruses. By 15, Whitmore was playing professional gigs outside the family. She sang and played in Hayes Carll’s band for a while, and recently she spent quite a bit of time touring and recording with the Mastersons, the husband/wife band featuring sister Eleanor and Houston native and guitarist Chris Masterson. They’re good family to have: Both of them play on Whitmore’s albums, which Masterson produced.

(Austin public radio) – 6.25 in-studio
Bonnie Whitmore at KUTX 6.25.13
Bonnie Whitmore was born into music. By age 8 she was already playing bass in her father’s family-band (aptly named Daddy & the Divas) and has since emerged as an Austin-based songwriter with a golden voice and lyrics that can bite. Whitmore describes her songwriting as “an outlet, because it lets me relieve some of my darker emotions. Instead of going and maybe being a bit destructive, I just write songs instead.” Her often sly style of country-folk is piercing yet playful, and you can witness it for yourself below! Bonnie performed right here on KUTX on June 25th – the day before she releases her latest album There I Go Again at the Cactus Cafe!

(online music blog) – Positive review with album art
And artist photo
Bonnie Whitmore – There I Go Again
By Simon
Last October I made a Kickstarter recommendation and put my money where my mouth was to support Bonnie Whitmore’s latest music venture, I’ve had a copy of the recording for some weeks now and it’s very remiss of me not to give it a mention before, but prompted by an email from the wonderful This Is American Music it’s time I reminded the one or two who occasionally read my musings that the album is now available to buy after the success of the Kickstarter campaign.

Departing from the country flavoured music of her previous album Bonnie delights us this time with a ten track serving of roots pop that lets her show of her vocal talents to the full, recommended listening and another winner from Bonnie the TIAM team.

Bonnie is touring in the US and Canada in June and July check with her site for updates and more dates.

June 27 Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silverleaf
June 28 Oklahoma City, OK @ The Blue Door
July 2 Minneapolis, MN @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge
July 3 Winnipeg, MB @ TBA
July 4 Saskatoon, SK @ Rock Bottom (The Fez)
July 5 Edmonton, AB @ Avenue Theatre
July 6 Bonnyville, AB @ Bonnyville House Concert
July 7 Calgary, AB @ The Ironwood
July 8 Lethbridge, AB @ The Slice
July 9 Waterton, AB @ Waterton Park
July 10 Winlaw, BC @ Cedar Creek
July 11 Penticton, BC @ Voodoo’s
July 12 Vancouver, BC @ Kozmik Zoo
July 17 Los Angeles, CA @ Hotel Cafe
(more dates to be announced soon)

(Netherlands roots music site) – Positive review (in Dutch) with album art
Bonnie Whitmore
REVIEWS – Hugo Vogel

If you read the biography of Bonnie Whitmore on its website you can see that she comes from a very musical family. Pa Whitmore taught his two daughters to play so they could act with him. Early age an instrument He himself had a pilot’s license so they could fly for those shows. Crisscrossing Texas and surrounding states Bonnie’s sister was the first to put her songs on a CD. A large part of the readers will have a few weeks ago, these sister seen at work. It is natural to Eleanor Whitmore, the female half of The Master Sons, who stood by Steve Earle on stage. Bonnie Whitmore, who also still in the band of Hayes Carll has been sitting a while now delivers her second album, There I Go Again (This Is American Music). Then 10 nice songs, sometimes to classic country and sometimes lean to country rock. In both cases provides otherwise very accessible music, which you can place. Somewhere in the area between Robin Ludwick, Kelly Willis and Mary Chapin Carpenter
The more rocking songs like Heartbreaker and The Gavel (it should also look up a hammer that the judge in the U.S. used) like me the most, but it’s the slower songs which the beautiful voice of Whitmore most comes into its own . Key leaders on this great album are other weather Elenanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson (including production). The combination of The Master Sons and Bonnie Whitmore also seems like a great addition to the lineup of large roots festival (padding, Take Root?).

There I Go Again (CD) is available at This Is American Music

(Netherlands roots music site) – Positive review (in Dutch) with album art
Bonnie Whitmore – There I Go Again
Actually she is from the corner of Americana and rock, but I think Bonnie Whitmore has enough soul and blues in her to be discussed here as well. She comes from a musical family and traveled from the age of eighth with the family band (consisting of dad, mom and daughters) throughout the country. She plays bass, cello and guitar and writes her own songs. Listening to her music, she reminds me a little of a female Tom Petty.

With “There I Go Again”, she released her second solo album. An album full of soulful Americana and full of songs that give a message or at least tell a story. They range from merry rock’n’roll-like songs like the title song “There I Go Again” and “High In The Sky” to the quieter thoughtful “Heartbreaker” and “Colored Kisses”. And whatever style, it is contagious and catchy. Each song is well crafted and performed, but the best for me are the nimble “Young And Reckless”, with an intriguing interplay between 12-string guitar and violin, and the sad and poignant “Borderline”.

Bonnie Whitmore is an outstanding representative of contemporary serious music. A excellent mix of rock, country and blues. In short, Americana. She is a good composer of fine catchy, yet meaningful songs. And as result a good album.–There-I-Go-Again

(online music site) – Positive review
Bonnie Whitmore: There I Go Again (This Is American Music)
Originally posted on Tank Full of Dreams
by Wess Floyd

I’ve written quite a bit about the This Is American Music crowd, which is probably as sinister as it sounds – I’m good friends with the whole crew. Obvious nepotism aside, I would not write about anything I didn’t feel deserved to be heard. Bonnie Whitmore is the first girl to crash the boys club (well, aside from Kelly Kniser of Glossary). The Texas Spitfire is right at home with the label’s trailblazing and establishment challenging roster and ethos.

Miss Whitmore’s new record There I Go Again has Lone Star State sass to spare. The record blends the strong women of Classic Country like Loretta and Dolly with the independent spirit of the 90’s chick rock revival. However, there’s no need to tell the world that she’s some sassy-pants, liberated woman of the New Century…in the same way Lucinda’s “Car Wheels” & “World Without Tears” didn’t need to – Bonnie Whitmore is a sassy-pants, liberated woman of the New Century. In this way – the record makes itself very relevant to 2013.

Where Nashville has given (some may say fabricated) us a new breed of Female Rebels (Kasey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and Ashley Monroe) who have made great tunes wide a nod to classic country, while pushing the boundaries of what has been acceptable for women to talk about in song. Whitmore may be more controversial. Bonnie’s not asking anyone for their permission, and she doesn’t feel the need to declare herself a rebel. She just is one, and she writes damn fine songs as well.

Bonnie grew up in a musical family, and this record is a family affair. Her brother-in-law Chris Masterson lends the masterful production, as well as the tasty guitar licks. Masterson dials of the jangle-power-pop when needed, other times the songs are cradled with down home harmonies & fiddle (provided by his wife, and Bonnie’s sister Eleanor). The team never loses sight of the record’s true beauty, and those are the MOST important, tried and true strengths for an artist/album to have – strong, infectious songs with a big, engage voice to deliver them.

Purchase Here:
Facebook Stalk:!/bonniewhitmore

(Internet radio show) – Spins of “The Gavel” & “Cryin Out For More” on Allen’s Bittersweet Melody” show June 20th

Spins of “Heartbreaker” & “Cryin Out For More” on Allen’s Bittersweet Melody” show June 19th
Bonnie Whitmore “Heartbreaker” from There I Go Again (This is American Music 2013) N  —From the 2nd album of this Denton, TX singer/songwriter produced by Chris Masterson, former guitarist in Son Volt and now leader of The Mastersons.
Bonnie Whitmore “Cryin’ Out For Me” from There I Go Again (This is American Music 2013)

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(online music blog) – Link to “Too Much Too Soon” mp3 featured.
This week’s album releases. As always, thank you to those who purchase stuff through our affiliate links; it helps us keep the lights on:
Bonnie Whitmore – There I Go Again (check out “Too Much Too Soon” here)

(Grand Junction, CO radio) – Colored Kisses aired June 13th.

(online music blog) – Positive album review with album art, TMTS mp3 and related links.
REVIEW: Bonnie Whitmore – There I Go Again
Bonnie Whitmore’s new album, There I Go Again, is a country-rock keeper. Whitmore is a terrific songwriter with a clear, strong voice and a way with a pop hook. She’s also got echoes of country and folk rock legends all over her work, in the best way possible. Emmylou is an obvious comparison for her light, pretty vocals on upbeat songs like “You’re Going To Love Me”, but there is also heavier stuff like “The Gavel” – a bluesy song with a definite resemblance to another famous Bonnie.

And there are other touchpoints as well, some openly acknowledged by Whitmore as she discusses Tom Petty’s ability to balance roots music and catchy pop-rock. “He makes these amazingly awesome pop songs, but is also able to keep them within the lines. You could hear how beautiful the melodies are beyond the grit of rock and roll,” she says. “I struggle with the question – ‘who inspired you?’ – but Petty’s music has, and always will inspire me.” This inspiration is clear on a lot of the tracks here, but to me the clearest indication is the way the guitars and keyboards ring out on the opening, title track.

This album is highly recommended if you enjoy the music of singers like Neko Case, the aforementioned Emmylou and Bonnie, and WYMA favorite Tift Merritt.

Here’s “Too Much Too Soon”, which she’s made available for free download:
That pedal steel is just wonderful, but as with everything else on the album, her voice is the featured instrument, and rightly so. We’re looking forward to hearing more from this talented Texas native. There I Go Again is out this week (June 11) on This Is American Music.

Bonnie Whitmore website
This Is American Music

(Seattle daily) – Positive album review (originally published in Blog Critics)
On Bonnie Whitmore’s new album There I Go Again she sings, “Borderline, Borderline, everything’s fine ’til it’s not.” The borderline Whitmore walks, with a tread a good deal more surefooted than most sophomore-album artists can manage, is the one between familiarity and originality, planting solid footsteps on both sides.

(Chicagoland music blog) – Positive album review
She’s 30 years old but her second record shows she listened to plenty of singer/songwriters who tried to adapt at the start of the folk rock revolution when many had as much of a problem as silent actors that tried to convert to talkies. She listened to what worked as well as what didn’t and the noble failures in between. The result is a wonderfully personal album that kicks off with a riff that sounds like she reassembled Bob Dylan’s first electric band. Loaded with songs that Stevie Nicks could have stolen and released as her next album, Whitmore is an original that understands the dictates of the commercial world serving up a nice pairing of both. Quite a smashing set.

(Austin weekly) – Feature interview
There Goes Bonnie Whitmore Again
Local bassist celebrates second LP
By William Harries Graham, 4:20PM, Tue. Jun. 11
Bonnie Whitmore, not a kid anymore

I have two words for you this week: Bonnie Whitmore. Her new album There I Go Again – out today – has me hook, line, and sinker.

Whitmore started playing bass as an 8-year-old in her father’s family band, Daddy & the Divas, along with her sister Eleanor Whitmore, who plays with the Mastersons. As a pilot for Delta, her father would get the family out gigging around Texas when he wasn’t working.

“It’s what he and my mom loved to do,” nods Bonnie. “Music filled our house. The joke I make is, to be a Whitmore, you have to play an instrument, sing harmonies, and fly a plane.

“I don’t think I would have chosen this life if it hadn’t been something that I’d always done,” she adds. “You’re a product of what you grew up with. Your parents wind up influencing your music. I discovered music like the Eagles and Chuck Berry through my dad’s interpretations.

“Instead of listening to guys like Doc Watson, I’d listen to my dad singing Doc Watson.”

Lucky girl. Of course it helped that she grew up in Denton, a city strapped with the University of North Texas, which lays claim to one of the finest music schools in the country.

“Denton has a really great jazz program at the college and there was a lot of that,” she says, “but it wasn’t like living in Austin, where there’s great music all over town every night of the week. When I was 15, I made more money playing in a band as a job than anyone else at my school.”

Whitmore spent some time in Nashville before moving to Austin last year, where she linked up with Hayes Carll. The meeting provided dividends for the young Whitmore, who took Carll’s lessons to heart on the making of There I Go Again. The result: a more upbeat album than 2011’s Embers to Ashes, her debut.

“I’m not a kid playing in bars and I’m not just a hired bass player,” she reasons. “I’m doing this because there’s nothing else that I would rather do.”

A lifelong bassist, Whitmore’s advice to young Austin musicians is to “stick with it,” no matter how long that road may run

“There are short attention spans,” she said. “The harder it is, the better it will be.

“Don’t be afraid to use it as an outlet. I write songs as therapy. You can tell a story through a song. You can make a guitar sound like how you feel. I think that any time of creativity is good for anyone to grow.”

Bonnie Whitmore celebrates the release of There I Go Again on Wednesday, June 26, at the Cactus Cafe. The Mastersons open.

(Portland, ME music blog) – Positive post with TMTS mp3 and related link.
Bonnie Whitmore – Too Much Too Soon
Austin-based singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore has just released her second album, There I Go Again, on This is American Music. There’s a rumor she references Hunter S. Thompson on one of the songs. If this true, it is something I’d like to hear. Whitmore turned 30 recently and she’s been “in the biz” since she was 15. That’s a lotta time for heartache. But the song below isn’t a downer, it’s a fun, up-tempo piece of country-pop. Listen and enjoy.

(online music site) – Very positive album review.
Review: Bonnie Whitmore – There I Go Again

NPRrecently declared 2013 “Country Music’s Year of the Woman.” With due respect to Ann Powers, Bonnie Whitmore wasn’t included in the discussion. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been. Comparing Whitmore to artists beholden to the Nashville music machine would do her a disservice.

This is not to label Whitmore a country artist or her latest release, There I Go Again, a slick Nashville album. It’s quite the opposite. When compared to her 2011 debut, Embers to Ashes, this new album is indeed more pop influenced. Pop in the vein of Heart’s late ’70s output.

Read: Loud.

Such loudness vacillates throughout the album, the same way attitude and tenderness form the yin and yang of There I Go Again. Loudness from Whitmore’s voice astutely paired with Chris Masterson’s production. The wrinkles from both that informed Embers to Ashes are ironed out here for the right reasons. From the piercing fiddle of “Reckless and Young” to the solemn acoustic guitar and piano of “Be the Death of Me,” Whitmore’s voice is never buried in the mix. It can dominate a song like “The Gavel” and yet be reigned in on “Colored Kisses.”

I will sing in mermaid tones but
Please don’t turn me to sea foam

Don’t be fooled, the same instruments and attitude that placed Whitmore in the Americana camp remain. “Crying Out for Me” is a direct relation to the songs on Embers to Ashes.

I get what I need
When you’re crying out for me

There I Go Again is a huge step forward for Whitmore and her team. To independently produce an album that suits Nashville’s every need should only serve to highlight the talents of a true artist, rather than the formulaic caricatures that pass for empowered women dominating today’s popular country music scene.

Flawless production aside, the strength of There I Go Again rests in Whitmore’s songwriting. It takes only one listen to create an ad hoc list of artists to cover each song with great success. While this may not sell albums, it’s Whitmore’s disposition to fight rather than fawn that’s endearing. If Embers to Ashes represented Whitmore’s tough-as-nails persona, There I Go Again showcases her artistic, soulful side. This is a definitely a statement album. She has made her album, her way. And this is why we love her and There I Go Again.

Download “Too Much Too Soon” below and purchase the album through This Is American Music.

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with album art, tour dates and related links.
Bonnie Whitmore’s Second Studio Album There I Go Again Out Today Through This Is American Music!

(online music site) – Very positive album review.
Music Review: Bonnie Whitmore – “There I Go Again”
By Jon Sobel

Bonnie Whitmore‘s second disc is crammed full of soulful, insistent Americana, with sharp-edged songs sometimes reminiscent of Tom Petty, delivered in a sure voice that’s both powerful and plaintive and throws in a touch of twang just when it feels most called for, as in the rootsy “Cryin’ Out for Me” and the elemental “The Gavel,” a pounding soured-love song that’s one of my favorites. In “Heartbreaker” (speaking of Tom Petty), she displays an ability to elevate lyrics that border on cliché (“You ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker/You ain’t nothin’ but a reason to cry”) with a compelling melody.

Yet while the songs and arrangements follow familiar patterns, tired cliché isn’t what Whitmore is about; it’s hooks. The more energetic songs, like “High in the Sky” and “There I Go Again,” shine with rock-and-roll joy that bring to mind Mary-Chapin Carpenter, while the more contemplative numbers, like “Colored Kisses” and “Heartbreaker,” get their strength from plainspoken, hummable melodies and precision arrangements often dressed up in organs and strings and mandolins. Harmony vocals are another strength on display in many of these songs, sweetness and raw emotion hanging together in the air in thrilling tension as she holds out those long notes.

“Too Much Too Soon” has a memorable hook and gratifying rave-up, while “You’re Going to Love Me” shows what a skillful melodist Whitmore is. But the best distillation of her style is a good-hearted paean to persistence called “Reckless and Young,” where a twelve-string guitar and a fiddle dance around an irresistible chorus built on a raw, basic 5-4-1 chord progression that illustrates as well as the lyrics do how “you can choose to be reckless and young.”

Elsewhere she sings, “Borderline, Borderline, everything’s fine ’til it’s not.” The borderline Whitmore walks, with a tread a good deal more surefooted than most sophomore-album artists can manage, is the one between familiarity and originality, planting solid footsteps on both sides.

(online music blog) – News posting (from press announcement) with “Too Much Too Soon” mp3, album art, artist photo, and related links.

(online music site) – News posting with “Too Much Too Soon” mp3 link, album art, artist photo, and related links.

(online music blog) – Positive news post with album art and multiple artist photos and videos.
Bonnie Whitmore
Bonnie Whitmore is a purveyor of fine, fine Indie/Rock/Americana, she hails from Denton in the musical state of Texas. And she will blow your mind.

It was said about her first album: “Bonnie Whitmore may have a heart of gold, an outsize personality and a roof-raising laugh, but don’t be fooled: her debut album has a body count. No fewer than two men die by Bonnie’s own hand over the course of the record: one of them is burned alive, one the victim of a knife that, in Whitmore’s own words, “just slipped.” Take a look at that album cover and consider what secrets she’s trying to get you to keep quiet. And then think twice before you spill ’em.”

Bonnie Whitmore’s last album had a body count and a title, Embers to Ashes, that implied a fiery finality. There are broken bones and hard lessons learned on Whitmore’s new album, but its title – There I Go Again – suggests less ominous themes.

“I feel like I’ve grown up a lot,” she says. “I turned 30 this year, and I’ve been in the business 15 of those years. Songwriting as a profession is a humbling career choice. To write songs that are accessible and relatable as possible required a level of maturity and focus that I have strived to attain on this record. It’s a less self-indulgent record then Embers. Embers To Ashes was what I needed to get through that period of my life. There I Go Again is a celebration of success and failure. Plus, nobody wants to hear two breakup albums in a row.”

Bonnie Whitmore’s There I Go Again will be released on CD and digital formats on June 11th through This Is American Music.

To say that Bonnie is a versatile singer is an understatement, this is one lady who cannot be pigeon holed. From burning torch singer to hard rockin’ country babe to smooth, smooth purveyor of love songs the range goes on forever.

Check out this fine acoustic take on a cool song from her new album.

When a song is that good you have to hear the full band version, especially if it is also live.
So here’s Bonnie Whitmore at SXSW 2013 just a few days ago @ Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar Austin, This Is American Music in a Mod Mobilian Showcase.

Here’s another great performance, this time from Dogwood @ SXSW 2013, this time filmed by a fan.
Yet another of the great tracks from the album, this being track seven.
Thanks Jay.

Jumping into the waybackmachine to 2011 we find Bonnie Whitmore in termendous voice on the Music Fog stage at Threadgills in Austin, TX.
This was one kickass gig.

That was so good gotta try another, here’s Bonnie Whitmore, with Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson, perform “Tin Man” from her album “Embers to Ashes.”
Recorded during the Music Fog Marathon 2011 at Threadgill’s in Austin, TX.
Great voice, great guitar and great fiddle.

Finally today check out this beautiful song from a couple of years back, Bonnie has one totally awesome voice.
Not much of a video, just warm and inviting vocals, with a touch of melancholy here and there. Prepare for chills.

(online music blog) – “Too Much Too Soon” mp3 featured.
Bonnie Whitmore: There I Go Again
Our alumna, Bonnie Whitmore, has a new album coming out on This Is American Music, There I Go Again

(online music site) – News post (from press release), with album art, tour dates and related links.

(online music site and weekly music industry newsletter) – News post (from press release), with album art, tour dates and related links.


(UK music magazine) – Positive album review with art
Dirty Streets “Blades of Grass” (Alive)
Recorded at Ardent in Memphis. this one goes a couple of different places but is squarely centered in a space of swampy, ’70s-ish hard rock. Singer Justin Toland has an engaging and spirited style, and a voice that is not wildly dissimilar to Jack White’s. A couple of the songs are driven by riffs that could have come off Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion’s Orange, and throughout the listen you keep expecting Free’s “All Right Now” of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” to break out. There’s a sitar-happy instrumental that really doesn’t jibe with the rest of the album yet is pleasant to let your head drift off to.

There’s no shortage of contemporary bands who want to sound like Humble Pie and Grand Funk Railroad, so there’s not much on the album that surprises. But Dirty Streets separate themselves from the like-minded pack with contagious enthusiasm, sharp songwriting, and some ass-whoopin’ riffs. – Brian Green

(Memphis, TN daily) – Feature show preview with band photo.
Mid-South boogie-rockers Dirty Streets continue their evolution on third album
Roots-rockers take chances, focus on songs on latest album
By Bob Mehr

Back in 2009, on the eve of the release of Dirty Streets’ debut LP, singer-guitarist Justin Toland spoke determinedly about the young band’s future. “We’ve always had very definite goals. The main goal is to be as good as we can as musicians and keep writing songs.”

Four years later, Toland and company — bassist Thomas Storz and drummer Andrew Denham — have followed through on expectations, with a triumphant third LP, Blades of Grass, that came out this week. The group will mark the occasion with a concert performance Friday night at the new Hi-Tone Café location in Crosstown.

Dirty Streets launched in late 2006 when DeSoto County natives Toland and Storz met through mutual friends. The pair quickly bonded over a shared love of Hill Country blues, proto-punk and ’70s boogie-rock. The band jelled fully a year later with the addition of Denham, a naturally powerful drummer fresh out of high school. For a couple of years, the band woodshedded heavily, playing regular gigs at Midtown watering holes like Murphy’s and toughening its sound.

Unlike most of their post-teen peers, the Streets lost themselves in a bubble of late-’60/early-’70s blues-rock made in, or informed by, the Bluff City. “The three of us really related to that kind of music; it was surprising to us that more of our friends didn’t listen to roots-based rock from around here,” Toland says. “We were also into these British bands and Detroit bands, too. The longer I’ve lived here in Memphis, the more I realize how much those groups respected the music from this area and were influenced by it, or actually came here to record.”

After releasing two records independently — their self-titled debut and 2011’s Movements — the band signed last year with Burbank-based label Alive Naturalsound Records. Armed with a better budget, the Streets decided to track their third LP at Midtown’s famed Ardent Studios, working with engineer Adam Hill.

“I had a strong feeling that I wanted to do this one a certain way,” says Toland. “I told Adam I wanted to make an analog record, not too polished. We talked specifically about the dynamics, and how the drums would sound.”

“We both had an idea that we wanted it sound like a Glyn Johns record, some Humble Pie, or like an Eddie Kramer record, to get that ’60s vibe on it. And even going back to Ardent itself, I really like the bands that came out of the studio like (’70s outfit) Moloch. So we thought, ‘Yeah, let’s get a Moloch sound on this record.’”

Although they reached back sonically, Blades of Grass sees the Dirty Streets moving forward musically, evolving with an album that places an emphasis on the songs and arrangements, without sacrificing the loose, bluesy bluster of the band’s earlier work.

“With the first album, we were thinking much more as a live band,” Toland says. “When I listen back to the record, the songs are super drawn out, with really long solos. On record, it didn’t translate as well. We took a few more chances on this one, by focusing on the tunes and not worrying about how it would sound live and loud.” That shift is abetted by several guests, including Lucero pianist/organist Rick Steff, harmonica player Adam Maxwell and engineer Hill, who chips in with percussion and harmonies.

The biggest element in the band’s growth, however, is Toland’s developing skills as a guitarist, and the added nuance in his playing. “More than anything, I’ve learned to slow down and be more expressive,” he says. “In the beginning, I tended to get excited and go full force all the time. It’s one of those things where the more music I discover and guitarists I learn to appreciate, it’s less about speed and force and more about expression. I’ve tried to translate more feeling into my playing. That’s what’s changed the most stylistically.”

Since hitting the road for their full first national tour last year, the group has been winning over new fans and raising its profile. The group will be launching another cross-country trek in September, and wearing their musical and geographic influences on their sleeve.

“It’s funny ’cause when we record or play, we’re just trying to get the groove right; we’re not really thinking about where we fit in musically. But every time we go out of town, people say, ‘You sound like you’re from Memphis!’ We’ve never really focused on a Memphis sound, or having soul and blues influence, but it’s there, and it’s apparent to other people. And that’s fine with us.”
Dirty Streets, Heavy Eyes and Kill Baby Kill

10 p.m. Friday at the Hi-Tone Café, 412-414 N. Cleveland. Cover is $8 at the door. For more information, go to or call 901-278-8663.

(Memphis, TN weekly) – Feature interview to preview Memphis record release show.
Third-Time Charm
The Dirty Streets branch out on album number three.
by Chris Herrington

This week, Memphis power trio the Dirty Streets — singer/guitarist Justin Toland, bassist Thomas Storz, and drummer Andrew Denham — will release their third and so far best album, Blades of Grass, a polished collection recorded at Ardent Studios and released via Los Angeles indie label Alive Records (whose past releases include now-huge blues-rockers the Black Keys and north Mississippi blues stalwart T-Model Ford). Ahead of the band’s local record-release show at the Hi-Tone, the Flyer spoke to Toland:

Flyer: A couple of big changes with this record are the new studio (Ardent) and label (Alive Records). Let’s start with Ardent. How did you end up recording Blades of Grass there?
Justin Toland: The whole thing about doing it at Ardent was that we had worked with [engineer] Adam Hill on a thing that they did called “The Warm-Up.” We had done that with him after the last record. It’s a live thing they do in-studio, where they record it. He had engineered that and we were so happy with the way he recorded and mixed it that we definitely wanted to work with him in the future. But we didn’t know if we would ever have the budget to do that. Then two years went by, and we were thinking about where we were going to record this record. The main thing was we wanted to record it live to tape, and we were having a hard time finding somewhere to do it for our budget.

And that’s not how you recorded the first two albums?
No. They were done digitally. We tried to make it sound as analog as possible. But this time we actually wanted to record analog. I talked to Adam about mixing this record, and he said, “Just let me see if I can get you in here, and we can do the whole thing to tape.” I didn’t think it would be possible, but he worked out everything. A lot of people felt like they couldn’t do it in the time we had allotted, which was seven or eight days. The whole record. Recording, mixing, tracking, overdubs. People didn’t feel like they could do all that on tape in eight days, but he was completely confident that he could. And it ended up working perfectly.

You can definitely hear an evolution in the band, especially if you go back to the first album [Portraits of a Man]. How much is that the result of the band changing, and how much is it just getting more comfortable working in a studio setting after establishing yourself as a live band?
I think it’s definitely both of those things. When we wrote all of the songs for that first record, they were written from a live standpoint. We were thinking, let’s see how good these songs can sound live. They were all really long, because there were lots of parts where, live, you can really draw people’s attention. But on this record and also on the last one [Movements], we moved in the direction of writing songs that we could play live in a certain way, but at the same time we were making songs for the sake of being songs. The other thing is, production-wise, we got better at recording and having ideas for overdubs.

You can hear more folk and soul elements filtering in on top of the straight blues-rock sound you had early on. It seems like that dynamic makes for a more listenable album.
Absolutely. That has to do with consciously making the decision to let some different influences get into the music more. I think when we first started out we were maybe afraid to let certain things come out. And live we were always trying to be exciting and loud. I think focusing more on the songs allowed us to move toward some of the other influences we had. But also, I think all of our tastes have expanded, as a band, since we started.

You’ve got Rick Steff playing on a couple of songs here. I assume that came out of touring with Lucero a couple of years ago?
It totally did. He had said something way back then about wanting to do something in the studio, but we didn’t have time on the last record. On this one, I called him last minute, and he showed up and laid everything down faster than I’ve ever seen anybody. It was the most professional thing. In a few minutes, he made up all his parts. He’s that good.

The first two records were local indie releases. This one is for Alive Records, out of Los Angeles, which is a pretty established label. How did that relationship come about?
We’ve gone on a few tours, and we’ve been touring the Southeast a lot since the last album came out. Last year, we ended up touring with Radio Moscow, a band that’s on Alive Records. Through that and meeting Lee Bains, who’s also on the label, around the same time, we were able to meet the owner of the label and he expressed interest in putting out the record.

After their local release this week, the Dirty Streets will head out on a 10-day Southeastern tour. They’ve got a six-week national tour, through the West and Midwest, scheduled for the fall.

The Dirty Streets with Heavy Eyes and Kill Baby Kill
The Hi-Tone, Friday, July 12th
10 p.m., $8

WXCI RADIO (Danbury, CT Radio) Brian Mulvihill played Tracks 1, 7 & 10 from Blades of Grass on his Shout, Brother, Shout show the week of 7/23

(online music site) – [Second!] positive album review
Dirty Streets – Blades Of Grass
(another Ripple scribe falls under th heavy 70’s spell of Dirty Streets.  Read Grime’s view of the album today, and don’t forget MetalRising’s review here)

Maaan, I’ve been on this big fuzzy 70’s rock kick all of my life, but these last few weeks in particular.  I’ve been hitting up Leslie West’s first two records and the early ZZ Top stuff pretty hard core.  I don’t know what prompted it.  Maybe I just needed to get my boogie on.  That’s probably it.  I mean, have you heard “Never In My Life” off of Climbing!?  That shit jams.  After coming around on Cactus, finally, I’m left to wonder when the big doom rut of 2013 will be toppled in favor of some good ol’ fun in the sun rock and roll.

Granted, there has been plenty of bands to take up the retro distorted blues boogie style and effectively at that. It’s gonna take someone with some chops and serious soul to fly one over the fence with the jaded retro-stoner crowd.  Enter Memphis, TN’s own The Dirty Streets.  Released July 6 on Alive Naturalsound Records, Blades of Grass has the mojo to do just that.  Move over boring druggy riffs,  It’s time for some serious, greasy-as-fuck, southern rock and soul.

FIrst off, Blades of Grass was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios, conveniently located in their home town.  Ardent has recorded everyone from Led Zeppelin to The White Stripes to Marty Stuart,  It was Stax Record’s go-to studio when they were overbooked and another Memphis native, film director Craig Brewer, utilized the facilities to record the score for Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan most in part due to the fact.  Not just anybody gets to record in their studios.  I find it pretty impressive that The Dirty Streets got to get their hometown rock onto tape there.  The audio on this record is spectacular.  In fact, it kind of sparkles a little bit.

Blades of Grass is an all round solid rock and roll record.  Period.  No confusing it.  Rock music at its best.  It’s in the same league but slightly more ambitious than Mount Carmel, but with a cleaner sound (thanks, no doubt, to Ardent).  Somethings say modern, some things say vintage.  Definitely retro, but more appropriately…timeless.  You’ve heard it before but can’t put your finger on it…that’s how you know when someone is doing it right. For instance, the opening track, “Stay Thirsty”, could easily have been a lost track from The Black Crowe’s Amorica sessions.  However, once you’ve heard The Dirty Streets, you won’t make that mistake.   It’s easy for the band, especially under the heavy rock footed thunderfunk drumming of Andrew Denham, to lay down a thick cut groove that, in a very general manner of speaking, is reminiscent of Carmen Appice jamming with John Fogerty and Sly Stone.  I think it is fair to say that these boys got their fair share of deep south groove straight from the source.

I don’t like making predictions.  The second I get cocky about ANYTHING is when it falls apart.  So their sake, I won’t heap more praise than they deserve, but The Dirty Streets have a few things really going for them.  They are on a great label (Alive helped spawn the now behemoth Black Keys), they have a superb sounding record, and they have more rock and roll vibe oozing from their pores than someone their age should.  Blades of Grass is %100 bullshit free.  I only had slightly more fun listening to Side 2 than side 1 and that isn’t saying anything.  Blades of Grass is one of the strongest rock releases of the year, no doubt, and has the potential to go mainstream amongst the figuratively hip v-neck wearing listener.  But really…who cares.  This record stands up front to back.  If The Dirty Streets can raise their game in anyway, which would be a tough feat, before their next record, they undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with beyond the underground.
Highly recommended.–The Grime

(online music site) – Feature interview to preview show
’70s rock ’n’ roll is right up The Dirty Streets’ alley
The streets of Memphis are good enough for The Dirty Streets, a young band who chose to move to the Bluff City from north Mississippi, no matter if the streets in the city are a little bit on the soiled side.

“We’ve been together for six years,” says Justin Toland, singer and guitarist in the trio, which also contains bassist Thomas Storz and drummer Andrew Denham. “We all met and discovered we shared the same preference for older music, ‘old school’ rock ’n’ roll, including Humble Pie, Cactus, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, The Faces, MC5 and Jeff Beck.

“It just seemed like older music from the 1970s changed the way we looked at music more than the new music that we were surrounded by.”

The Dirty Streets released the band’s third album, Blades of Grass, July 9. The band’s debut, Portrait of a Man, came out in 2009, and a second album, Movements, was released in 2011. The first two CDs were recorded by the band itself, on a much smaller budget, Toland notes, while the new one was recorded at Memphis’ famed Ardent Studios, with help from Rick Steff of Lucero on keyboards.

“We did a tour of the Southeast with Lucero, and they’ve helped us out a lot, and showed us the ropes,” Toland says. “And Rick, especially, who’s been around a while. He played with Hank Williams Jr. for seven or eight years. We also toured the East Coast with a Little Rock metal band, Iron Tongue, and last summer we did a six-week tour with Radio Moscow, a Los Angeles band, which is how we made the connections to get our label deal for our latest album.”

The Dirty Streets’ favorite Memphis club to perform in, Toland says, is The Hi-Tone (where Elvis Costello once did a show he released on DVD), which recently moved to a new location just off Union Avenue. The group has played central Arkansas on three previous occasions, at the Rev Room, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack and the White Water Tavern.

Original music has been the focus of the recordings made by The Dirty Streets, except for a “bonus track” on their latest album.

“We included a song by an obscure Ohio soul artist, Sir Stanley,” Toland says. “In our shows, we throw in the occasional cover songs, something by one of our influences, especially Cactus and Humble Pie.”

The Dirty Streets
Opening act: Opportunists, Peckerwolf
9:30 p.m. Friday, White Water Tavern, West Seventh and Thayer streets, Little Rock
Admission: $5
(501) 375-8400
Weekend, Pages 33 on 07/18/2013
Print Headline: ’70s rock ’n’ roll is right up The Dirty Streets’ alley

(UK online music site) – Brief positive show preview.
Dirty Streets channel the 70s
Dirty Streets are making a name from necromancy, digging up the well-loved sounds of late 60s, early 70s blues rock and performing it perfectly in 2013. They’ve just released a ‘new’ album called Blades of Grass, with ‘Stay Thirsty’ the sample we’ve got for you today. Perfect for summer days, even if you’re not from the era.

(online music site) – Brief positive show preview.
Rock Candy – Saturday To-Do: The Dirty Streets bring some of The Bluff City’s finest power-trio blues rock to White Water Tavern, with Hot Springs bruisers Opportunist and Little Rock’s burliest rock machine, a.k.a. Peckerwolf, 9:30 p.m.

(online music blog) – Brief positive album review
Dirty Streets — Blades of Grass
I have not yet finished listening to the Dirty Streets’ Blades of Grass, but I can honestly say this is a fucking great album.

The cover art pretty much tells you what you need to know. (By the way, it is definitely the raddest album art we’re likely to see this year.) This album is down and dirty and, at times, psychedelic. But don’t assume that means Blades of Grass is all over the place. The Dirty Streets’ groove is practically precision-guided.

My commentary here is pretty useless. You just need to listen to it and be blown away. This album will almost certainly be on my “best of” list come December. Nice work, gents.

(Australian online music site) – Fairly positive 7.0 album review
Review: Dirty Streets – Blades of Grass

(online L.A. music site)
Schwindy’s indie music spotlight: Dirty Streets (Video)
By: Gary Schwind

You can’t always tell a lot from the description of a band. However, sometimes a description is enough to pique your interest so you want to hear the album for yourself. That was the case when I received a message about the new Dirty Streets album that was described this way: “heavy music bathed in blues, folk and psychedelia.”

I’m telling you, loyal reader. That description isn’t just some marketing ploy. This is some heavy music indeed. The album opens with “Stay Thirsty,” a song that immediately brings to mind bands like Hill Country Revue. It is a good mixture of blues and groovy southern rock that you will want to blast out the windows of your car.

The psychedelic aspect of the band is evident at the end of “Talk.” Overall, this song reminds me of The Black Crowes and it ends with a psychedelic guitar part that kind of transports you to someplace else. “Movements #2” is another good example of the psychedelic sound of this band. In addition to the psychedelic guitar, there are some bongos in this tune. I’m not sure exactly what the studio process was for this song, but it feels like the guys got together around one microphone and just knocked this out.
The new album Blades of Grass is available now

If southern rock is your thing, just check out “No Need to Rest.” This sounds like some of the southern rock of the 70s with meaty guitar riffs and a rhythm that will get your head moving.

If you like throwback bands, Dirty Streets is definitely a band you should check out. These guys make substantive music that sounds like it comes from another time. Blades of Grass is available now from Alive Records.

(online music blog) – Post (from press announcement)

(online music blog) – Positive review with album art,
Dirty Streets – Blades Of Grass (Alive Records)

(online music site) – Positive album review with album art.
New Music Monday – The Dirty Streets “Blades of Grass”
The Dirty Streets
Blades of Grass
Label:  Alive Records
The Dirty Streets are a young band from Memphis who have no fear of bathing in their proto-punk and soul roots. Compared to the likes of MC5, Rolling Stones, James Brown, Cactus, Humble Pie & the Faces this trio brings the funk, blues and the hard core soul.
The Dirty Streets mark their debut on Alive Naturalsound with the full-length release of Blades of Grass.

(online music site) – Positive album review with album art.
Dirty Streets, “Blades of Grass” (Alive Naturalsound).
Originally from Mississippi but now calling Memphis, Tennessee home, Dirty Streets (guitarist and vocalist Justin Toland, bassist Thomas Storz, and drummer Andrew Denham) are a power trio specializing in the kind of hard boogie blues-rock that characterized bands like Humble Pie and Cream, and with Toland’s Southern soul half-shouted blues vocal style out front, they sound, too, a little like the Black Crowes gone leaner and hungrier. This set, the group’s third following two earlier independent releases, was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, which no doubt adds to the full, throwback retro hard rock sound the band excels at. Dirty Streets aren’t about innovation, and they certainly haven’t reinvented the hard rock wheel on Blades of Grass, but they’ve captured exactly the classic ’60s and early-’70s feel of that era’s blues-rock trios, and they’ve done it with sharp, sturdy songs that have a distinct blue-collar, working-man feel to them. Clear highlights on this rocking, straight-up, and honest album are the opening “Stay Thirsty” and the street-smart and wise “Talk,” although the band hits a thumping groove everywhere here, not ever trying to be clever, current, or fancy, but just plowing through like a real rock band whose members aren’t worried one bit about beats, tape loops, or synthesized effects. Yeah, what this band does is going to be called retro, and it is by design. Built in the image of the classic power rock trios, with just a pinch of deep Southern gothic thrown in, Dirty Streets are all the more refreshing for not trying to be the next big thing. They rock, and they know it doesn’t really matter what era you’re in — if you can rock, you’ll work.

I-94 BAR
(online music site) – Positive album review
Been on a Humble Pie trip for a bit around the I-94 Bar and it struck me that the less pastoral and more excessive they became, the better those guys got. This Mississippi-via-Memphis trio Dirty Streets is coming from the same place and despite their album’s misnomer of a title (there’s no sign of rolling fields and English countryside here) they purvey a fine line in swaggering rock.

The Pie married the heaviest of boogie riffs to Steve Marriott’s incredible bluesy voice. Volume was a by-word. Soulfulness was at the heart of their best work. Dirty Streets aren’t playing with a matching hand of cards but are in the vicinity of the Pie on tracks like “Try Harder”, a wholesome bag of raunchy goodness coloured ever so slightly by organ. The Streets have a more than capable rock vocalist in Justin Toland, who’s also no slouch on guitar. Toland hits the mark, vocally speaking, on “Talk”, but it’snot just a stab iun one direction.

The songwriting is in the classic early ’70s mould. Jeff Beck Group gets a mention in the bio – and that’s a fair call. Black Crowes and Allman Brothers fans would also take to Dirty Streets. The LP (their second) was recorded at Ardent Studios. There’s a clue for what they were shooting for, just there.

One song, “Keep An Eye Out”, says more about Dirty Streets than a ream of record reviews. Cocksure guitar and an avalanche of drum fills from Andrew Denham yield to burbling bass-work before a six-string led coda, it’s right out of the Fillmore East playbook circa 1974.

It’s not all stomping and rocking out. “Movements #2” pares it back to bare percussion, acoustic guitar and a stellar Toland vocal for one of those obligatory pauses-for-breath and it’s damn effective. Back in heavy territory, “Heart of the Sky” throws harmonica into the mix. All that’s missing are chick vocals or we’d be listening to “Shine On”.

If Alive hasn’t cornered the market on this sort of band it’s attracted enough of them like moths to a bright light. It’s no shock to see Dirty Streets working the US touring circuit with Radio Moscow. If blues-heavy wailing rocks your boat, you could do worse than cock an ear in this direction. – The Barman

(Milwaukee daily) – Brief positive review
Dirty Streets, “Blades of Grass” (Alive Naturalsound). From Mississippi but now based in Memphis, this trio revives old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll on an album recorded at the famous Ardent Studios and given a couple extra hands courtesy of Lucero keyboardist Rick Steff.

(online music site) – Positive album review with album art, Stay Thirsty and Blades of Grass audio streams and related links
REVIEW: Dirty Streets – Blades of Grass

Formed by Thomas Storz (bass, percussion), Justin Toland (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Andrew Denham (drums, percussion) the heavy blues-rock power trio Dirty Streets now calls Memphis home (they’re originally from Mississippi). Ardent Studio in Memphis is where they recorded their new album Blades Of Grass. They share a label with WYMA favorites Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, and have opened for them. That was certainly enough to earn a listen, and from there, the deep groove, guitars and pianos are plenty of incentive to stick around for the whole album.

Here’s the album opener, “Stay Thirsty”, from which you’ll absolutely get a Jeff Beck Group vibe – check out the guitar/piano interplay about :45 into the track… it reminds me of an old favorite, “Goin’ Down”:

Here’s the title track – in addition to the way the rhythm section boogies, check out those deep, heavy guitar tones and the interplay with the vocals, which call to mind both psychedelic rock and blues at the same time:

The band already has two independent releases under their belt, including an album with renowned Memphis producer Doug Easley (Grifters, GbV, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Reigning Sound – just to name a few). They also recently toured with labelmates Radio Moscow. If you like heavy blues rock, and some of the other Alive/Naturalsound bands we’ve featured in the past (Radio Moscow, Lee Bains, John the Conqueror), this will please you. You can learn more and buy at Alive/Naturalsound, or get the limited edition color vinyl at Bomp! Records.

(online music site) – Positive album review
Dirty Streets – Blades Of Grass

Zeppelin, Black Crowes, Humble Pie, Rolling Stones….it’s all here rolled into one complete tight sound and lit up for your approval. Taking in all of the classic rock sound waves flooding from my headphones. Clean production. Lyrics are perfect foil to the lock solid rhythm section. Good guitar sound for the solo. Gibson and marshalls at ten maybe. I’m hearing a lot of bluesy influences.
“Talk”, which is the second track hits off like a normal well oiled classic rock machine and then slides into this dementia of soundscaping echoes and trippy 60’s era sound effects. Ethereal visions of 60’s idealism.

“No Need To Rest”…reminds me of Free and Hendrix in terms of delivery and phrasings. Guitar is out of this world. Exceptional but not over driven or flashy. I’m digging this.

“Try Harder” and “I Believe I found Myself” are two real standout tracks on this album.Production is clear and controlled, creative and crushing.

“Blades Of Grass” builds slowly and kicks you right in the face. Heavy in its own right but tempered to deliver all of the majesty and power of this tune. These guys know how to control this beast of a blues rock caravan they are driving. Simple and powerful, elegant and raw.

Throughout the listening I found myself raising the volume higher and higher. Finally I just took my headphones off and opened all the windows. This is a band that needs to be heard and played loud. My only request would be more distorted lead work but all in all a damn good album. “I believe I found Myself” is one awesome track….gov’t mule, Cream….it’s all here. This band is rock solid. The atmosphere surrounding these tunes is inviting. The sound they are producing is not new but it has a new spin, a new taste to the classic rock recipe. 7 horns up –MetalRising

(online music site) – Second news postwith band photo.
Dirty Streets to Release ‘Blades Of Grass’ 7/9

(online music site) – Second news posting  with album art, and related links.

(online music site) – Positive album review, album art
Dirty Streets: Blades of Grass Review
The Dirty Streets, hailing from the incomparable Memphis blues scene, offer us a vivacious new album, Blades of Grass. It encompasses all the ingredients of a ‘60s classic rock band, as if straight out of a freshly uncovered time capsule. Noticeable influence by greats such as the Rolling Stones, the album is sure to please blues and classic rock enthusiasts alike.

The album’s first single and opening track, “Stay Thirsty,” provides an upbeat rhythm driven by lead guitar and organ. A catchy chorus accompanies these elements, as Justin Toland belts out his raspy howl. “Try Harder,” another hit track, talks about an honest hard day’s work, a recurring theme on the album. The songs maintain a down to earth tone, reflecting on life’s daily trials and tribulations. “Keep an Eye Out” begins with a rollicking drum beat, carefully crafted by percussionist Andrew Denham. Rolling right along into the next upbeat progression, “Heart of the Sky” comes complete with the introduction of the harmonica at start and finish, capping off the stellar guitar and bass work within. The Dirty Streets slow it down for a couple of heartfelt tracks. The first, “Truth,” is a powerful testament to the honest man. With harmonies spot on, culminating into guitar solo outro, the band does the number proud. “Twice” follows, and is an intriguing instrumental tribute to the Middle Eastern sounds ever so prominent in that ‘60s scene.

On Blades of Grass, The Dirty Streets pay great homage to the blues-inspired classic rock sound that came before. With of course a fresh take and impressive talent, these Memphis rockers leave it all on the album. Toland’s vocals recall that of an early Paul Rogers, accompanied by Thomas Storz’s intricate bass lines and Denham’s complex beats. The Dirty Streets put out one hell of an album from start to finish.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Stay Thirsty
– Try Harder
– Keep an Eye Out
– Heart of the Sky
– Truth
The Big Hit – Stay Thirsty

(online music site) – News posting with “Stay Thirsty” mp3 link, album art, band photo, and related links.
audiObelisk: The Dirty Streets Premiere Title-Track from New Album Blades of Grass

Come July 9, Memphis heavy rockers The Dirty Streets will make their debut on Alive Naturalsound with the full-length Blades of Grass. Their follow-up to the impressive 2011 outing, Movements (review here), it’s an album with a lot to live up to in terms of the smooth, blues and classic rock vibes the trio was able to capture their last time out, writing memorable songs rife with laid-back atmospheres that remained consistent even when tracks like “What Do You Know” were at their most driving. The band announced the record by unveiling the song “Stay Thirsty” — which added keys courtesy of Lucero‘s Rick Steff to their already potent brew of wide-pastured sunny summer blues — and today I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere of the Blades of Grass title-track.

Recorded by Adam Hill at Ardent Studio in Memphis, Blades of Grass doesn’t so much clean up the sound the band presented on Movements as it does clarify it. The Dirty Streets – guitarist/vocalist Justin Toland, bassist Thomas Storz and drummer Andrew Denham – still come off as organic and prone to a touch of grit on “Blades of Grass,” which begins with a tension building guitar line of starts and stops that unfolds into an easy groove once Storz and Denham join Toland‘s progression. Ideas are clear, structures are unabashedly traditional, and they waste no time getting to the hook, which answers quickly any doubt about The Dirty Streets being able to follow what they delivered their last time out.

Toland‘s voice, still owing some of its cadence to Blue Cheer‘s Dickie Peterson, is more his own as, after the second chorus, Denham leads the way to a stop from which they emerge with the building lines, “I can’t move/I can’t walk/Blades of grass,” giving way to a solo that never goes over-the-top but feeds into the momentum built anyway and rounding out with heavy funk start-stops that finish the song with an undeniable groove. In setting anticipation high for the album to come, “Blades of Grass” does an excellent job of giving a sense of just where The Dirty Streets are coming from this time around — unless the rest of the record is polka or something. You never know.

The Dirty Streets will release Blades of Grass on July 9 through Alive Naturalsound. Limited colored vinyl is available for pre-order at the Bomp-mailorder store.

(online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with “Stay Thirsty” mp3 link, album art, band photo, and related links.

DIRTY STREETS: Memphis Based Vintage Rockers To Release ‘Blades Of Grass’; New Track ‘Stay Thirsty’ Now Streaming
Formed by Thomas Storz (bass, percussion), Justin Toland (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Andrew Denham (drums, percussion), and originally from Mississippi, the power trio Dirty Streets now calls Memphis home. That’s where they recorded their new album ‘Blades Of Grass‘, at the legendary Ardent Studio, under the guidance of sound engineer Adam Hill. The core trio also enlisted the talents of Lucero’s Rick Steff on keys for this effort.

‘Blades Of Grass‘ is “heavy music” bathed in blues, folk and psychedelia, with chops to spare and a working class point of view. The band already has two independent releases under their belt, including an album with renown Memphis producer Doug Easley, and has toured extensively in the Southeast, with a couple of East Coast runs, and an eight week U.S. tour with Radio Moscow.

Now stream the track ‘Stay Thirsty‘ below:

(online music site) – News posting with “Stay Thirsty” mp3 link, album art, band photo, and related links.
The Dirty Streets

Memphis, Tennessee-based power trio The Dirty Streets (Thomas Storz on bass, Justin Toland on vocals and guitar and Andrew Denham on drums) recorded their new LP, ‘Blades Of Grass’, at Ardent studios with engineer Adam Hill, whose credits include records by The White Stripes and Big Star.

The album, which also features Lucero’s Rick Steff on keys, will be available in all formats, including limited edition colored vinyl, on 9 July via Alive NaturalSound Records, home to traditional blues acts, kindred blues rockers and power pop heavyweights Paul Collins and The Plimsouls.

‘Blades of Grass’ kicks off with ‘Stay Thirsty’, a track steeped in 60’s blues-rock (Humble Pie, The Rolling Stones) and contemporary heirs The Black Crowes and Alabama Shakes, while subsequent tracks find the band drawing inspiration from folk, heavy psych and soul music (all three core members are originally from Mississippi, which had an often overlooked 60’s soul scene). At of press time, The Dirty Streets have a record release show booked at Hi-Tone Cafe in Memphis on 12 July; additional tour dates are promised shortly.

(online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with “Stay Thirsty” mp3 link, album art, band photo, and related links.

(online music site) – News post (from press announcement) with band photo.–Dirty-Streets-Stay-Thirsty-from-BLADES-OF-GRASS-20130601

(online music site) – Positive news post with “Stay Thirsty” mp3, band photo and related links.
“Stay Thirsty” by Dirty Streets has enough classic rock juice to make any listener satisfied
For the old-school fan of classic rock who isn’t afraid to mix plenty of Humble Pie and Jeff Beck into their listening schedule, Blades of Grass by Dirty Streets should be an album on your immediate listening list when it hits shelves on July 9th. Until then, get your fix with a few repeats of “Stay Thirsty” to keep your pump primed, a track which the Memphis-by-way-of-Mississippi power trio recorded at the legendary Ardent Studio with production help from sound engineer Adam Hill, with added power provided by Lucero’s Rick Steff on keyboards. With two full-lengths already to their name along with an extensive touring history, expect big things from these guys in the coming months. To learn more, check them out on Facebook!

THE OBELISK (online music site) – Positive news post with “Stay Thirsty” mp3, , album art and related links.
The Dirty Streets to Release New Album Blades of Grass on July 9

It’s not quite the debut album, as the PR wire headline below indicates. Memphis-based The Dirty Streets issued Movements (review here) in 2011 and had one before that as well, but the news is good anyway, and the forthcoming Blades of Grass will certainly mark a new era for the band, who make their label debut on Alive Naturalsound on July 9.

The trio have made the new song “Stay Thirsty” available to stream and download for free, and you’ll find that under the news below:

(online music site) – News  post with (from press announcement) “Stay Thirsty” mp3, band photo and related links.
New one from Dirty Streets
Thomas Storz (bass, percussion), Justin Toland (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Andrew Denham (drums, percussion), recorded their new album “Blades Of Grass”.

Blades Of Grass is an old school rock’n’roll record with nods to the sounds of Humble Pie, Jeff Beck Group and others. It’s heavy music bathed in blues, folk and psychedelia, with chops to spare and a working class point of view.

Check out the song “Cloud of Strange” to hear how these guys sound.  Good stuff.

(online  blues music site) – Positive news post with “Stay Thirsty” mp3, , album art and related links.
Dirty Streets’ “Blades of Grass” Set for July 9 Release


“Of Haggis & Hog Jowls: by Marc Michael
Dave Arcari is Mississippi meets the Highlands
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:   A Scotsman walks in to a Finnish record label to record an album of powerful Mississippi Delta Blues…

The Scotsman is Dave Arcari, the Finnish record label is Blue North and the album, Whisky in My Blood, is indeed powerful Mississippi Delta Blues (and a bit more). Arcari is currently touring the U.S. promoting his latest record (it is available on vinyl, as all good blues ought to be) and will be making an appearance at J.J.’s Bohemia on July 10.

“Positive” and “upbeat” are not words typically associated with the blues, an art form decried by Navin R. Johnson as being “too depressing.” This album defies that convention. Every one of the 14 tracks listed is toe-tapping and infectious—it’s impossible not to smile. This is quite easily the happiest blues album I have ever had the pleasure to listen to, and a large part of that comes from the fact that Arcari is clearly having a ball doing what he does.

The guitar work is phenomenal.  It is pure bottleneck blues, simple and unadorned, and that’s a bit of a rarity. A great many guitarists get their start playing blues in some form and go on to muck it up with needless over-complication.  Not so Arcari, whose considerable chops are tempered by the taste and restraint of a seasoned pro. Arcari learned his trade by listening to the classics (Blind Willie Jefferson is a particular influence) and has managed to maintain that raw edge found on good old scratchy records from the ’30s and ’40s. For a man who grew up across the broad Atlantic in a land better known for craggy peaks, impenetrable lochs and terrifying ethnic cuisine, Arcari’s blues are surprisingly, refreshingly authentic. Many a would-be Memphis busker would do well to pay attention to the William Wallace of National Guitars.

Whether the guitar licks complement the vocals or the vocals complement the guitar licks, his gruff Celtic growl is the perfect counterpoint to his soulful playing. In this respect, he is evocative of Tom Waits in that one suspects there is a diesel engine idling away deep in his chest. Yet for all its low, rumbling, scratchy, and whiskey-soaked qualities, there is the burr of a Scottish accent and somehow that makes it better. If it were any heavier, it might be a distraction, but as it stands, it is the perfect extra-ingredient to make a genuinely good blues album great, an unconventional component that enhances the overall impact nicely. This combination of “guts guitar” and unique vocals means this is an album you can listen to over and over.

The production work on the album is minimalist, which is absolutely appropriate.The album is unvarnished, and if it were any other way, it would be less than it is. Too often artists at this level come out with albums that are over-processed and over-produced, heavily laden with studio tricks to compensate for a lackluster performance.  As a recording, Whisky in My Blood sounds like a group of hungry musicians and a rolling tape and that’s it—and that’s precisely what it should sound like.  You half expect to hear the players telling each other dirty jokes between tracks. The spirit of live performance is so large that I doubt there was any overdubbing done at all. This has “one and done” written all over it.

Lyrically the tunes are well-written, solid blues tunes with a sly shot of humor here and there, Arcari being a man who describes the “morning after” a show as “a bad head and a mouth like a badger’s arse…”  Hard to imagine Robert Johnson using that particular phrase but if he were to hear Arcari say it, there is no doubt he’d shake his head and say, “I know what you mean, man.”

Whisky in My Blood is an album strongly grounded in the Delta style, full of tradition (the unmistakable voice of a cigar box guitar is readily apparent on several tracks), but incorporating some slightly less conventional elements (a plaintive banjo broadens the sound nicely)and the result is an album that is just at home at a punk show, a blues fest, a honky tonk or a street corner.  In Chattanooga we call that JJs Bohemia. Come down July 10. When Dave Arcari takes the stage, that’s where you’ll want to be.

Wednesday, July 10, 10 p.m. JJ’s Bohemia, 231 E. MLK Blvd. (423) 266-1400,

TIMES SQUARE.COM (NYC A&E site) – Feature interview to preview NYC show and US tour
The Whiskey in David Arcari’s Blood
Written by Peggy Hogan

David Arcari is an alt-blues slide guitar player and songwriter, whose energetic and charismatic live persona is wholly unique and respected by creative musicians the world over. Times Square spoke with Arcari about his latest release, and his US tour beginning on July 3 in New York City.

Times Square (TS): How were you first introduced to slide guitar? Did you start off playing a traditional guitar?

David Arcari (DA): I started off playing acoustic guitar – playing Bob Dylan and Neil Young songs. I guess it’s changed for fold now, but fifteen, twenty years ago, that was the stuff you listened to when you started out playing guitar. I started my first band, but I was never very interested in playing electric guitar. When I started my blues band everyone wanted the guitar solos and I wasn’t really interested. I don’t really know what but one day I tried tuning my guitar into a chord and immediately found that I was much better at that than playing normal guitar. I was almost a lack of ability at normal guitar that accidentally led me to it.

TS: What do you think are the most important elements contemporary blues musicians have to be aware of within the genre in order to have their own voice?

DA: Definitely the first thing is to just do your own thing. Don’t’ try and think it should be this way or that way. It’s just what comes out – don’t fight that. Express it the way it comes. As a genre – I don’t’ think the world needs someone else going out and playing Mustang Sally, or yet another twelve bar blues. Fuck it up somehow. Put your own timing on it, screw around with it, but stay within the framework. That for me is the secret – as soon as you try to add extra chords or make it fancy, it really doesn’t, for me, sound like blues anymore. It doesn’t need to be sophisticated or complicated, but people need to be able to do their own thing with it. There are so many ways to play even just two or three notes, you never run out of possibilities.

TS: You’re a Scottish guitar player, but your latest album, Whisky in my Blood was backed by Finnish musicians and released on a Finnish label. Did that come together as a fluke, or had you planned to work with Scandinavian blues musicians?

DA: It’s quite a long story. Basically when I started out doing this whole thing, I was running my own record label, putting out my own stuff-
TS: That was Buzz?

DA: That was Buzz Records, yes. I did two EPS and three albums. Then there was a company in France called Dixiefrog, a European independent label doing mostly blues and Americana kind of stuff.  He initially wanted to license my second album, and I kind of thought, it’s a small world and a small niche, so if they stick this album out again, I’ve probably already reached a lot of the people who will be interested in this. I suggested to him that rather than license one album, he should check out the other albums and maybe we could do a compilation, maybe do a few new songs. He thought that was a great idea. We fired on with that, but then I thought I could re-record some of the songs, and I happened to be going to Finland for one fairly big gig. I’d been doing quite a lot of gigs in Finland and Estonia for the last five or six years, and the woman who books my gigs over their, her husband is a bass player. I kind of thought, I’m going to be in Finland, the bass player and I had had a wee jam before and the drummer is quite a well known drummer in Finland – a real personality, and he used to come to all of my gigs, so I thought maybe I’d record some of these tunes with an upright bass player and this drummer to give a different feel to some of the songs. We recorded five or six of the tracks and then ended up using a couple of them I quite liked the sound of it, so the people in Finland got quite excited about this, and Blue North records, which is part of the Finnish blues society, talked over some ideas and they were keen to put an album out. It seemed like a nice project to work on – it kind of slowly evolved. It sort of just happened.

TS: You’ve been touring extensively, and you’re heading to New York City on July 3 to play the Terra Blues Club. What is life on the road like for you, and what can your fans expect from you at your NYC show?

DA: Touring  – I rely on that for a living. Without the live stuff these days, trying to doo anything in the music industry is pretty economically not viable. So there’s the economic consideration, but aside that, I just love it. If someone said to me, you’re going to have to stop gigging, there’s not really anything I’d rather do. I’d be pretty pissed off. It’s a way of life – I’m very lucky that my wife books all of gigs and she’s my tour manager, so we can travel together and work together. It’s almost something we both get involved in. It’s fantastic. I can’t really say much more than that. I’ve had lots of shite jobs in the past. For the show, I suspect it will be stuff across from all the albums – everyone is always like, “What’s the new album?” even when you go into new territories. I think for a lot of the people who come to the gigs, even the first album will be as new to them as the newest one. It’s quite good that I get to start and finish in New York – the first gig at Terra Blues, and then there’s one right at the end, the last gig on the twelfth of August in a place in Brooklyn called the Trash Bar.

Dave Arcari & the Helsinki Hellraisers – “Traveling Riverside Blues”  (from the album Whisky in My Blood) – Whisky in My Blood has the sound of true Mississippi Delta electric blues. The album features a dirty, distorted National guitar, a bass man who serves double duty on both electric and upright, and a percussionist at home with snare and washboard. The songs are authentic children of the Blues; heartbreak and hallelujah are present in the story lines, sometimes riding together on the same track. The one small difference is that Whisky in My Blood is not a Fat Possum Records find but comes courtesy of Finnish label, Blue North. “Traveling Riverside Blues” is a non-stop electric Blues trance that showcases the true blues of Dave Arcari & The Hellsinki Hellraisers. They are sons of a frozen land of lakes and forests but these boys have sunk their roots deep into the delta mud.
Listen and buy “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Dave Arcari & the Hellsinki Hellraisers from AMAZON or iTunes

BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER (daily) – Marshal show preview with photo of Dave
Scottish Bluesman Dave Arcari with Left Lane Cruiser

Dark Horse Brewing Co.
511 S. Kalamazoo Ave., Marshall, MI 49068 Venue Phone: 269-781-9940
Friday, Aug. 2 8:00 p.m.  Add to my calendar
Glasgow-based deep-blues musician Dave Arcari is currently on his debut U.S. tour and he’ll be performing at Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall on Aug. 2nd. This show and tour is in support of Dave’s recently released fifth studio album, Whisky In My Blood.

FAT CAT RADIO (Rockford, IL Internet Radio) – Positive post and Chicago show preview
FatCat Radio Network Artist of the Week: Dave Arcari

Long time station favorite, Dave Arcari (Glasgow, Scotland) is currently touring the USA for the 1st time & we here at FatCat Radio are VERY EXCITED to be attending his gig on Saturday July 27th at Reggie’s in Chicago, IL. You can find the schedule of remaining dates along with an entertaining blog (required reading!) chronicling Dave’s daily adventures as he makes his way from the East Coast, the Midwest, and back again at Is it Saturday yet?!

WNMC (Traverse City, MI Community Radio) – Hefty spins from both Whisky in My Blood and Devil’s Left Hand in July.

TRAVERSE CITY RECORD EAGLE (daily) – Brief show preview
InsideOut Gallery-  Dave Arcari from Glasgow, Scotland, performs alternative/rockabilly blues 7-10 p.m. Aug. 4, no cover charge

FEARLESS RADIO (Chicago Internet radio)  In-studio session 4pm July 27th

KAQL RADIO (Winona, MN radio) – In-studio session 4pm July 18th,

WUTC RADIO (Chattanooga, TN public radio) – In-studio session with Richard Windham 3pm July 11th,

Dave Arcari live The Mill Restaurant  in Iowa City Wednesday, July 17 |
Slide guitarist & songwriter Dave Arcari’s alt.blues sounds owe as much to trash country, punk and rockabilly as they do pre-war Delta blues and have been showcased via six internationally-acclaimed solo CD releases. Nobody’s Fool was recorded in Glasgow, Scotland and Helsinki, Finland. The new album features collaborations with Finnish musicians Juuso Haapasalo (bass) and Honey Aaltonen (drums) and Scottish fiddle player Jamie Wilson. As well as Arcari’s trademark National slide guitar playing and original material, Nobody’s Fool presents another side of Arcari with ‘normal’ guitar and some material from key traditional, geographic and musical influences.

WINONA DAILY NEWS  – Brief show mention
Wilkie Days ’13: Charlie Parr with special guest Dave Arcari
Folk and blues legend Charlie Parr returns to Winona for another lively performance. Scottish bluesman Dave Arcari will open.

METRO PULSE (Knoxville weekly) – Brief show preview with photo
The Daily Plan-It: “Cats in Outer Space,” Dave Arcari, and the Ghost Wolves.
Scottish bluesman Dave Arcari will be rocking the Preservation Pub at 10 p.m. with Billy Lawson in support of Arcari’s new album Whiskey in my Blood. The show’s free to attend! 21+ only.

KNOXVILLE.ORG (Knoxville online A&E site) – Brief show preview
Dave Arcari live
Preservation Pub
SCOTTISH alternative blues artist Dave Arcari’s sounds owe as much to trash country, punk and rockabilly as they do pre-war Delta blues…with a Scottish twist. Don’t mis this date on his debut US tour. 10:00pm to 11:45pm

CFBX RADIO / KAMLOOPS – Whisky In My Blood debuts at the #13 spot in CFBX’s Top 30 Chart this week!
Glasgow-based deep-blues musician Dave Arcari with Husky Burnette play at JJ’s Bohemia.  8 p.m.

THE CHATANOOGAN – Brief show preview
July 10
Glasgow-based deep-blues musician Dave Arcari with Husky Burnette play at JJ’s Bohemia.  8 p.m.

KCOR RADIO (Kansas City On Line Radio) – Dave’s “Jitterbug Swing” aired on May 20th.

THE NORTHWOODS RIVER NEWS (Rhinelander daily) – Quade’s Place show preview
Dave Arcari to bring his modern take on the blues to Quade’s Place this July

Glasgow-based deep-blues musician Dave Arcari is embarking on his debut U.S. tour next month and will be performing at Quade’s Place in Rhinelander on July 24. This show (and tour) is in support of Arcari’s recently released fifth studio album, “Whisky In My Blood.”

On it, Arcari turns in 14 tracks that owe as much to trash country, punk and rockabilly as they do pre-war Delta blues, according to a press release announcing the engagement. Arcari is joined by his backing band “The Hellsinki Hellraisers,” featuring Finnish musicians Juuso Haapasalo (upright and electric bass) and Honey Aaltonen (snare drum, cymbal, rub-board). Melding the rural sounds of the Deep South with a hint of folk music that emerged from the British Isles over a century ago, Arcari & Co. manage to update these age-old sounds into an energetic and often bone-chilling new modern take on the blues.

“Whisky In My Blood” features three cover songs – two from Robert Johnson (“Traveling Riverside Blues” & “Preachin’ Blues”) and one from Bukka White (“Jitterbug Swing”). The remaining 11 tracks were all composed by Arcari and showcase his ability to craft equally timeless songs that sit comfortably next to the blues masters he covers.

Performing more than 100 UK dates a year, as well as regular shows in Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Belgium, Poland and Ireland, Arcari is one of the hardest gigging live artists on the circuit. In addition, he’s performed at numerous music festivals around the globe, including appearances at Glastonbury (UK), BluesAlive (Czech Republic & Poland shows), Moulin Blues (Netherlands), The Great British R&B Festival, Peer Festival (Belgium) and NXNE (Toronto), among others. Notable performances opening for music legends such as Steve Earle, Alabama 3, Seasick Steve, Toby Keith and Jon Spencer, along with his relentless tour schedule, have established Arcari as a formidable international solo performer who, with his hard-hitting gravel-laden voice and slashing bottleneck steel guitar, is quickly building a reputation with media and fans alike as a “hell-raising national guitar madman.”

RMD MUSIC BLOG – Positive post with WIMB mp3
Dave Arcari – “Whisky In My Blood” {Alt-Country} + Free download

Because Americana and whisky are like peas and carrots, we just had to give this Scottish bluesman a shout-out; (plus his tunes feature a strange-yet-unique mix of punk, rockabilly, alt-blues and even Celtic music). If you dig the song make sure you download it for free in the player below.

INNOCENT WORDS (online music magazine) – Feature interview with artist photos and video..
Dave Arcari: And His Band Of Helsinki Hellraisers Have Whi9skey In Their Blood
By John B. Moore
Dave Arcari and his band The Helsinki Hellraisers are pretty much a three-man UN. Arcari is Scottish, his drummer and stand up bassist are Finnish and they play an eclectic brand of U.S. Blues mixed with classic British punk rock.

Their fifth and latest record Whiskey in My Blood captures the band deftly blending the two genres, packing the album with steel guitars and banjos underneath Arcari’s gruff vocals. Alongside 11 originals and three stellar covers including two Robert Johnson tunes.

Before heading for their first American tour, Arcari was kind enough to answer a few questions from Innocent Words via e-mail.

Innocent Words: The album seems to combine some of the best elements of punk rock and bluegrass. What are your musical influences? Any influences that would surprise people?

Davearcari_cutout_bw_2012_optDave Arcari: All kinds of music really…from the blues side of things Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Son House really got into my head. But I guess the kinda weird mix of influences also includes some of the alt.roots folks out there like Hank (Williams) III and Scott H Biram. I love a lot of the Bloodshot (Records) stuff and it was one of their samplers in the early days that got mixed up with my blues influences to produce what comes out now. Although maybe not too surprising, one of my earliest influences was Johnny Cash – the Sun stuff, not the 70’s middle of the road crap he got caught up in. That, and a lot of 50’s rock ‘n roll. Oh yes.

IW: This is your first U.S. tour. What are you expecting? Anything you really want to do or visit when you get here?

Arcari: I have absolutely no idea what to expect. American folks keep telling me I have to get my ass to the USA and it’ll go a storm, but I’ll just wait and see what happens. I do know that I’m gonna have a lot of fun though. Although this is my first time playing in the USA, I’ve been at SXSW many, many times and spent some time in San Diego and New York on past trips. This, I think, is gonna be the most exciting trip ever. What do I want to do/see? Everything!

IW: Are you touring with any other band in the US?

Arcari: My pal Charlie Parr has organized a show for us to play together in Winona…and the Meantooth Grin guys out of Wausau have sorted a bunch of stuff. Mark Miloff of the Cannibal Ramblers has sorted some shows for us to do together too which I’m looking for and further south Ted Drozdowski (Scissormen) and Husky Burnette have got stuff together too. I’m excited to catch up with these guys.

IW: Is Whiskey in My Blood being released in the U.S.?

Arcari: Not specifically as there’s no formal U.S. distribution in place, but Blue North – the label in Finland who put the record out –have made it available worldwide and it’s available via iTunes and all the download services as well as, of course, my own website.

IW: You have three covers on this new record. What was it about those songs that made you want to record and include them?

Arcari: I generally don’t do many covers, but these songs featured in my early live sets before I’d written that much of my own material…there’s a couple of covers on each of my last four solo albums too. So really early formative tunes that I got my head round early on and folks sometimes ask for.

IW: What’s next for you and the band?

Arcari: Juuso (Haapasalo, upright bass) and Honey (Aaltonen, drums) – the Hellsinki Hellraisers – are based in Finland, so we generally only play together when I’m on tour over in Scandinavia although I’d love to be able to bring them to do some UK shows…or even the U.S.! Logistics and economics mean we do very little and I’m really a solo artist as it’s the only way I’ve really been able to earn a living at this. Also, my band in Scotland (Radiotones) is still alive and kicking. It’s just that we rarely play any shows! Again, it’s down to other folks’ availability and costs of taking a band on the road. Would be nice of things took off enough to be able to bring these guys out though.

HAVENSTAAD FM RADIO (Netherlands radio & reporting station to Euro Americana chart) – “Cherry Wine” aired on Jan Willem Bos’
“Delta Rhythm” roots music show the week of April 14th.

HAVENSTAAD FM RADIO (Netherlands radio & reporting station to Euro Americana chart) – “Still Friends” aired on Jan Willem Bos’
“Delta Rhythm” roots music show the week of April 10th.

BLABBER ‘N’ SMOKE (Glasgow-based music site) – Positive album review with cover art and “making of WIMB” video.
Scotsman Dave Arcari has a new album out: Whiskey in My Blood. It’s raw and uncompromising as ever and yet not the same as before. First, because he invited a backing band to the studio and the Hellsinki Hellraisers (mind the double ‘l’) do a great job:  Juuso Haapasalo is on upright & electric bass  and Honey Aaltonen handles the snare drum, the cymbal and the rub-board. Second, he has allowed more country (Johnny Cash style), folk and Celtic influences to colour his songs. Three covers – Bukka White’s Jitterbug Swing plus Walkin’ Blues and Preachin’ Blues from Robert Johnson – sit comfortably alongside eleven originals. Says Arcari: “While the majority of the tracks feature my trademark National steel guitar, two banjo songs (Still Friends and Third Time Lucky), the rockabilly-infused Tell me, Baby and cigar box steam punk blues of Get Outta My Way showcase the full breadth of my song-writing and performance”.  Soon on tour everywhere! Go to:

RADIO 68 (Belgium radio show and music website) – Positive album review with album art and related link

Dave Arcari and The Helsinki Hellraisers. Whisky In My Blood.
April 9, 2013 by Paul Kerr

Dave Arcari and whisky seem to go together like ham and eggs. Sometimes we reckon he only started off in his quest to be Scotland’s premier blues artist in order to get offered dram after dram from adoring fans. It seems that after almost every feral delivery on stage someone comes up, glass in hand to offer homage and it’s somewhat fitting that he finally admits it in the title of his latest album, Whisky In My Blood. It’s something of a departure for Arcari who is renowned for his blistering solo performances live and on disc. Here he’s accompanied by the Helsinki Hellraisers whom he encountered on his regular trips to Finland, proof indeed that the Blues are universal. The Hellraisers (Juuso Haapasalo, upright & electric bass and Honey Aaltonen, snare drum, cymbal, washboard) actually appeared on a few songs on Arcari’s last album but here they clatter, batter and boom along with the main man allowing him to indulge in some rockabilly and skiffle.
It’s a great set that adds that extra dimension to Arcari’s usual sound. It allows him to come across as a demented swamp dwelling version of Led Zeppelin on Travelling Riverside Blues where his particularly lascivious slavering on the notorious squeeze my lemon lyric should be X- Rated. He revisits Robert Johnson on Preachin’ Blues which is given a tremendous run through and despite the great slide guitar playing it’s the singing which impresses most, a whisky soaked preacher indeed. Aside from another cover, Bukka White’s Jitterbug Swing which swings mightily Arcari penned all of the songs here. The title song is a classic celebration of the amber nectar and by all rights should have been recorded by The Dubliners if they had come from Alabama rather than Dublin. Third Time Lucky hits the same spot with Arcari on banjo and raising the ghost of Ronnie Drew. Tell Me Baby is a cracking rockabilly roustabout and this pell mell gung ho blues abandon is the primary feature throughout the album but Arcari and the Hellraisers do take some time to catch breath and deliver a few slower numbers. Still Friends has him picking on banjo and gruffly reminiscing on younger days while Wherever I Go is a boastful swagger of a song that stumbles along wonderfully. Cherry Wine is perhaps the best example of the synergy of the band with Aaltonen’s brushed drums, Haapasalo’s solid bass and Arcari’s fine slide playing and vocals coming together on what is an excellent song.

Have a look at this video on the making of the album which tells all much more eloquently than we can manage.

TOP-40 CHARTS (online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with artist photo and related links.

HELLHOUND MUSIC (online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with artist photo and related links.

MUSIC INDUSTRY NEWS NETWORKS (online music industry site) – News posting (from press announcement) with artist photo and related links.


The Chattanooga, TN-based rock band The Bohannons will be hitting the road this month for a string of high-powered shows in further support of their critically-acclaimed 2012 album Unaka Rising. The band has just put the finishing touches on their new follow-up album Black Cross / Black Shield (out later this Fall) and will premiering a healthy number of these songs in their sets as part of this July run.


July 13 – 40 Watt, Athens, GA

July 17 – JJ’s Bohemia, Chattanooga, TN

July 18 – Hi-Watt, Nashville, TN

July 19- The New Vintage, Louisville, KY

July 20 – South Park Tavern, Dayton OH

July 21 – Quenchers, Chicago, IL

July 22 – Daytrotter Session, Rock Island, IL

July 22 – CBGB, St. Louis, MO

July 23 – White Water Tavern, Little Rock, AR

July 24 – Hi-Tone, Memphis, TN


“The Bohannons are one of Chattanooga’s finest exports, who make heavy rock ’n’ roll that’s equal parts Mötorhead and Neil Young, with lead guitar chops that rival both.”  – Stephen Trageser / NASHVILLE SCENE

“The Bohannons new album, Unaka Rising is a real scorcher. It’s an odd thing to say about a band, but their approach to music makes so much sense that it’s difficult to understand why their particular cocktail of heavy Southern rock jangle hasn’t already been done to death by someone else. A little Two Gallants, a little Black Sabbath, they’re as heavy as they are twangy. They manage their heaviness without venturing into melodrama, which is difficult for many artists that venture into darker territory. Their music begs to serve as a soundtrack to a genre of film that doesn’t currently exist—some kind of violent, stylized-but-gritty (a la Tarantino) Southern road movie patterned after the classic Western model.” – OXFORD AMERICAN

“The Bohannons’ Unaka Rising is by far one of the best albums to be released in 2012. I suggest you check it out then catch them live, you will not be disappointed.” – Chris Martin / ATLANTA EXAMINER

“Southern rock music is undergoing an interesting revolution these days. It’s adding some punk attitude and a bit of grunge sound to the rock, blues, and country it has always had. The Bohannons, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, are a perfect example of what’s great about this new roots rock sound on their new release, Unaka Rising. This is not music that invites you to listen passively. This is music that attacks and forces you to engage from the very first notes. The lyrics delve into the rich mines of Southern mythology and are filled with the imagery of their native region. The title of the CD refers, in fact, to the Unaka region of Tennessee. But in The Bohannon’s music, that mythology and imagery is mixed with anger, paranoia, and political unease. The sound here is anything but predictable. Yes, there are blues licks and high, lonesome, twangy sounds like the best of bluegrass, but there is also violently raucous guitar, emotionally charged vocals, more than a touch of metal, and above all else, rock and roll.
If you like homegrown rock that defies the norm and demands a response, you owe it to yourself to give The Bohannons a listen. You just may find out that it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for.” – Rhetta Akamatsu / SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER

“The Bohannons are a pedal-to-the-metal conflagration of strands including Southern boogie, grunge, classic ‘70s hard rock, punk a la The Clash, The Pogues, and Billy Bragg. Anyone who’s really into rock should check these guys out.” – Mary Leary / MY OLD KENTUCKY BLOG

“Rebel rock from Tennessee, The Bohannons are like Neil Young’s Crazy Horse as interpreted by The Drive-By Truckers in a basement punk rock club where the amps can’t be turned down any lower than 9 and everybody’s drinking PBR tallboys as if they haven’t had anything to drink in days.” – THE BIG TAKEOVER

“The Swinging Sounds of the Dying South: The Bohannons’ Dystopian Unaka Rising. A melange of all our favorite rocks—hard, southern, punk, garage – Unaka Rising is ten stomping tracks that deconstruct and interrogate America through The Bohannons’ loud and cracked prism. Musically, they occupy a unique space somewhere between Skynyrd, The Pixies, and modern southern rockers like Jason Isbell and the Drive-By Truckers. Matt Bohannon’s vocals can evoke Frank Black piped through a PA at a demonstration. Lyrically, Unaka Rising concerns itself with the conflict and paranoia of our contemporary milieu, a hodgepodge of angry ideologues and frightened people tottering on the cusp of collective horror.” – THREAT + CONSTRAINT

“The Bohannons have been getting rave reviews in respected music blogs and magazines around the country with Unka Rising and it’s immediately evident why once you hear it. – CHATTANOOGA PULSE

“The Bohannons are a Chattanooga band that combines swamp boogie, hard blues, full-on glam rock, and punk — and it’s just as bracing and crazy as that sounds. If you’ve enjoyed some of the proud Southern rock varietals we’ve blogged about this year: The Alabama Shakes, The District Attorneys, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Patterson Hood – this is something you will want to check out.” – WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY

“Are they Country? Are They Blues? Are they ’70s glam metal? Yes.” – NINE BULLETS

“Taking rock music and embedding it with hints of blues and country, Tennessee-based The Bohannons have created a mixture that has rarely been heard before.” – PLUG-IN MUSIC

“You can put whatever label you want on The Bohannons’ music, the only one that really matters is, Damn Good!” – CW’S PLACE

“Southern-fried, glam rock boogie merchants The Bohannons debut release Unaka Rising is as good a set of blues-inspired psych-groove as we’ve heard in a very long while.” – THE MAD MACKEREL: UK

“The bottom line is that The Bohannons’ are some good ‘ol kick a little dirt in your face rock and roll. Hot and heavy as hell.” – ALAN CROSS: A JOURNAL OF MUSICAL THINGS


The Bohannons inhabit a musical universe that, while certainly drawing influence from all over, is firmly rooted in their Tennessee home. With their full-length debut album Unaka Rising, they are clearly taking their homegrown, handcrafted rock to a new level, and we think they’ve set the bar pretty damn high with this one. The album’s title references the Unaka province of East Tennessee and western North Carolina— “One of the finest areas in all the world,” according to singer/guitarist Marty Bohannon. The region has certainly fueled the Bohannons’ fire, providing endless stories and situations from which these songs draw. With a quiver of new material ready to follow up 2011’s stellar EP, Days of Echo, the Bohannons spent the better part of the last year tearing up the road between Chattanooga and Athens, GA where they recorded Unaka Rising at Chase Park Transduction, first with David Barbe and later Drew Vandenberg.

The Bohannons’ Unaka Rising is out now (through This Is American Music) in CD and Digital formats.

Tony Bonyata
Pavement PR
p: 262.903.7775


SPIN MAGAZINE – Bigger Than Jesus: 25 Rock Deities, Rap Messiahs, and Would-Be Golden Gods #22 Swamp Dogg
Likely the most obscure entry on our list, this prolific soul-music oddball (and recent SPIN feature subject) has made a long career out of playing the underdog. (See, among many others, his 1989 album I Called for a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock.) Sometimes that pose tipped over into a persecution complex, as on the insane album cover for 2007’s Resurrection. “Jesus Christ had all these people around him that supposedly had his back and one or two of them got together for a few pieces of silver and had his ass nailed to a cross,” said Swamp when we asked him about the cover. “You can’t trust nobody.” D.M.

NASHVILLE SCENE (Nashville weekly) – Best Local Rock Songs Ever, Part 17 [Marshall Chapman, Swamp Dogg, Chelle Rose, Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu, Megan McCormick]
Swamp Dogg, “Redneck”
Listen: YouTube
I just read Hidden In the Mix: The African-American Presence in Country Music — which is an important book, by the way — and it reminded me about Jerry Williams Jr., aka Swamp Dogg (see contributor Edd Hurt’s recent interview with Swamp Dogg here). On his first solo album, Total Destruction to Your Mind — which Alive Naturalsound Records just released in a remastered version — he covered Joe South’s racist-bating song “Redneck,” and ratcheted up both the tempo and the piss and vinegar. I mean, check it out: He’s snarling, shouting and smirking over a hot, hard-driving boogie. That was some bold shit in 1970.

WORLD MAGAZINE (Christian bi-weekly news magazine) – Positive CD review in Notable CDs
Because of his 1972 rendition of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” Al Green usually gets credited with discovering the soul potential of Bee Gees ballads. But Jerry Williams—a.k.a. Swamp Dogg—actually discovered it first when he wrapped his voice around “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” on his 1971 album, Rat On!, which along with two other early-Swamp Dogg longplayers, Total Destruction to Your Mind (1970), and Gag a Maggot (1973), has just been reissued by Alive Records.

Part of what has made Williams an underground legend is his capacity for explosively soulful unpredictability. Part big-voiced belter, part Fred Sanford, he exemplifies what “diversity” meant (or at least sounded like) before it became a humorless, oxymoronic talisman of the left. And although not every Swamp Dogg out-of-the-box lyric qualifies as wisdom (Williams wouldn’t inveigh against “killing babies in the womb” until 1981), his “total destruction to” the box itself just might.

OFF THE RACK (online music site) – Positive album mention with cover art
Swamp Dogg: Rat On!
Alive Records/Southbound

For his second album under the Swamp Dogg persona Jerry Williams Jr, songwriter/producer/soul singer, won praise via backhanded compliments; the record regularly turning up on worst album cover of all time lists. And it’s something Williams is proud of, as he puts it in the liner notes this is a big part of the reason that the record keeps getting discovered. Picked up on by hip-hop heads the album has some sweet grooves (Remember I Said Tomorrow) and the funky cuts suit the high happy croon of Swamp Dogg.

The killer on this album is the cover of The Bee Gees’ Got To Get A Message To You and there are several Curtis Mayfield/Baby Huey-esque political funk tracks.

The debut Swamp Dogg record, Total Destruction To Your Mind, has also been reissued. Vinyl and CD. These records, released in 1970 and 1971 respectively, continue to work well as a one-two. So much of the Rat On! material – take God Bless America For What – is so at odds with that absurd cover. It’s almost a disservice to the music. But you have to admire Williams’ rosy outlook all these years one, a bit like those ad-execs that turn up proud with their Worst Ad of the Year awards, or actors celebrating earning a Razzie.

Both this and Total Destruction are well worth having.

TIMES PICAYUNNE (New Orleans daily) – Positive album mention with cover art
Irma Thomas to play intimate concert at Old U.S. Mint Performance Hall
By Alison Fensterstock
The elegant R&B veteran Irma Thomas mostly performs, these days, at large outdoor festival events. A concert Friday evening at the Old U.S. Mint Performance Hall, the Louisiana State Museum’s acoustically state-of-the-art new venue, is a comparatively rare chance to see the Grammy winner perform beloved New Orleans classics like “Ruler of My Heart” and “It’s Raining” in an intimate, seated space. It’s a prime opportunity for a date night, and tickets are limited, so grab your sweetie, make some dinner reservations in the Quarter, and ink it on your calendar.

irma thomas in between tears cover art.jpgThomas’ 1973 album “In Between Tears” was recently re-released on vinyl.Alive Naturalsound Records

Of interest to Irma fans, by the way, is a recent reissue from the Alive/Naturalsound Records label. Thomas’s 1973 deep soul album “In Between Tears”, co-written, arranged and produced by R&B firecracker Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams (who performs at the Ponderosa Stomp, at Rock n’Bowl in October) was re-released on vinyl, remastered with new liner notes, May 14. Give it a listen: the songs capture a raw passion and authority in Thomas’ voice that makes you wonder why it’s not considered an essential part of her catalog.

KCRW (Los Angeles Public Radio radio) – Irma’s “In Between Tears” aired on Anthony Valdez’ Eclectic24 show May 21st.

WFMU (NJ radio) – Irma’s “You’re the Dog (I Do the Barking Myself)” aired on Therese’s show May 20th and “She’ll Never Be Your Wife” aired on Daniel Blumin’s show May 18th and “What’s so Wrong With You Loving Me” aired on Zzzzzero Hour with Bill Mac May 18th and Swamp’s “I Couldn’t Pay for What I Got Last Night” aired on Surface Noise with Joe McGasko May 19th and “Wifesitter” aired on Zzzzzero Hour with Bill Mac May 18th

WMSE (Milwaukee college radio) – Swamp’s “Wifesitter and rma’s “Coming From Behind (Monologue)” and “Wish Someone Would Care” aired on Andy turner’s Zero Hour show May 10.

MONKEY PICKS (UK online music blog) – Positive Swamp & Irma album reviews with cover art.
Following Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! (1971), two more reissues from Alive Records bring the spotlight back on the inimitable Swamp Dogg.

Gag a Maggott (that extra ‘t’ is annoying) was Swamp’s fourth album  and after the previous sleeves depicting him wearing orange shorts sitting on a dump truck and riding a giant white rat, this one sees our hero inside a garbage can with maggots on his face. The cover he says “was designed to make you puke and possibly shit yourself.” Swamp Dogg wasn’t your average 70s soul man.

Once again, in between sessions of hard partying, he cut an album of soulful funk infused with his offbeat humour and natty way with words. “Wife Sitter” is a prime example and one of his best songs as he chortles away at his antics of taking care of other men’s wives. “Don’t worry about your kids, I’ll treat them kind, after all, half of them are mine”  His infectious laugh makes such behaviour almost sound commendable.

“I Couldn’t Pay For What I Got Last Night” is another in-the-pocket groove (Little Beaver on guitar) which give credence to Swamp’s claim that “the album is so funky it’ll gag a maggot” and his rearrangement of “Midnight Hour” breathes fresh life into the original album’s only cover. Maggott isn’t quite up to the standard of the previous albums and has one horrible calypso track – “T T” – but it still shows Swampy as a unique talent, perhaps only now getting his dues. As his says in his new liner notes, “Hell, I was great back then, but I was the only one who knew it or gave a goddam”.

The vinyl reissue is faithful to the LP and the CD version features two extra live tracks, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe” and the Stones’s “Honky Tonk Woman”.
In addition to his own releases Swamp cut records on others; Doris Duke perhaps the best example (if you’ve not heard her I’m A Loser LP, get on it), and in 1973 he produced and wrote most of an album for Irma Thomas, In Between Tears; her first LP since her glory (such as they were) days at Imperial in ’66.

Gritty and strident, Thomas is in strong voice throughout. Some tracks, like “You’re The Dog (I Do The Barking Myself)” sound like a Swamp Dogg album with a different vocalist but the way she pours heart and soul into the extended raw blues version of her old hit “Wish Someone Would Care” is totally her own and the result spectacular. “Turn My World Around” is more danceable (reminiscent of Duke’s killer “I Can’t Do Without You”) and ends the record on an upbeat note. The cover artwork though is more ghastly than anything ever to adorn Mr. Dogg’s work.

This reissue also features a couple of bonus cuts on the CD and a story from Dogg how he and his band kept an eye on Irma whilst making the record. No wonder when he bumped into her years later she made out she didn’t know who he was. You’ll have to buy the CD to find out more…

HYPERBOLEUM (online music site) – Positive album review.
Irma Thomas: In Between Tears
After relocating from New Orleans to Los Angeles, soul queen Irma Thomas largely disappeared from public view for a few years. But a series of singles produced by Jerry Williams (a.k.a. Swamp Dogg) on the indieCanyon, Roker and Fungus labels led to this eight-track release in 1973. Williams had proven himself a talented musician and producer, and in the latter capacity he leaves behind the absurdist humor of his own records to bring Thomas a helping of Southern soul and West Coast funk. Thomas’ new material, much of it written by Williams, has plenty of bite, but it’s more personal than broad. The wistful drama of her early Minit and Imperial sides had given way to something heavier, more worldly-wise, weary and womanly. When she sings of broken relationships, it’s from the experience of being spurned rather than the hope of being accepted, and when she takes stock of her life, she’s not afraid to highlight problems with the balance sheet. The transition from her earlier work is particularly apparent in a remake of “Wish Someone Would Care” which evolved from heartbroken yearning to mortally wounded. Alive’s 2013 reissue adds two bonus tracks, including the pre-album B-side “I’ll Do it All Over You.” This little-known album caught Thomas in a fiery and outspoken mood, and its return to print makes a welcome addition to her better-known releases.

Irma Thomas: In Between Tears

STOMP & STAMMER (Atlanta monthly music magazine) – NEWS LEAK
Swamp Dogg, soul man of legend, is reissuing his “Gag A Magott” and “In Between Tears” LPs with bonus tracks on May 14. It’ll mark the first time both offerings have been available on wax since 1973, so set those turntables to stun…

AMERICANA MUSIC SHOW (Americana Radio Show) – Choking To Death, I Couldn’t Pay For What I Got Last Night, Midnight & Honky Tonk Woman aired on May 20th.
A lot of people that think soul music is reserved for ex church choir boys and girls cuttin’ loose after church. And then there’s Swamp Dogg. He writes soul music straight from the streets and bars. He’s just released a remastered version of his classic Gag A Maggot album. It’s a little shocking how un-PC he can be, but it rings so true and authentic you just can’t beat his take on southern soul. I’m adding “Choking To Death (From The Ties That Bind),” “I Couldn’t Pay For What I Got Last Night,” “Midnight Hour,” and the cover of “Honky Tonk Woman (Live)”

ROCTOBER (online music site) – Positive album reviews
Swamp Dogg “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” “Rat On!” “Gag A Maggott”
[GUEST REVIEW BY JAMES PORTER] (Alive) Swamp Dogg has released over a dozen albums since the 1970, 1971, and 1973 LPs that Alive is reissuing this year, but as outrageous and bizarre as many of them have been, nothing matches the mind-blowing power of these R&B/rock/protest/progressive masterpieces that musically kept pretty loyal to Southern soul but conceptually were like nothing else on the market (which is probably why they were relegated to bargain bins instead of Casey Kasem countdowns). In 2000 Roctober published our Swamp Dogg listener guide, and the following excerpts hold true today:
After bursting on the scene as Little Jerry Williams in the 50s, the Virginia native continued in that vein for years, with minor success as a producer, songwriter and soul singer, until 1970 when he retired the sharkskin suit and the love songs and finally gave the world a piece of his mind with these two albums that started the show. Looking back, “Total Destruction” is like a a total reaction to the plastic soul sound of the period. While other producers would assemble a vocal group, string and horn sections, and a wah wah guitarist (to get the white kids!) in one studio and let them battle it out, nothing is wasted to excess on Swamp Dogg’s debut. Yes, there’s the guitar obbligatos of Pete Carr, Swamp’s own Gospel piano, and the usual horn section, but it’s Robert Popwell’s bass playing that defines the sound. You can hear his forbidding pulse to best effect on “The World Beyond,” holding down the bottom while Swamp recites a scarifying tale of life after wartime, one of the LP’s several powerful, unique, political statements. “The Baby is Mine,” a child custody song not to be confused with “Mama’s Baby…Daddy’s Maybe” (a minor hit from the same LP, Swamp’s only non-Jerry Williams chart appearance unless you count a Kid Rock SD sample) is almost too much for one sitting: “When I come by the house/I’m quiet as a mouse/but he always starts something every time…I got my rights/she might be his wife/but the baby is mine!” While this album isn’t as out there as similar soul experiments like Funkadelic or Gil Scott-Heron, songs like “Synthetic World,” “Redneck,” and the title track are more authentic than (admittedly great) Motown trifles like “Ball of Confusion” or “Friendship Train.” Swamp Dogg was speaking his mind while the Motown songs were written to cash in on fads. “Rat On!” is slightly more normal — the protest riffs, with the exception of “God Bless America,” are less bitter and more generalized, and there are a few more cheatin’ and infidelity songs (“Creepin’ Away,” “That Ain’t My Wife”) than previous, but the Dogg is still in top form.
For years both of this LPs have been available on one CD on domestic reissues (the SDEG label is Swamp Dogg’s own) and from Charly in the UK, but not enough can be said about the cover art that ALive reproduces in full 12″ glory on the new vinyl reissues. “Total Destruction” has an outrageous sleeve (an out of focus Polaroid of SD in shorts and a mortarboard sitting in the back of a garbage truck) so raw and funny and strange and amateurish that the devastating soul rock it sheathes is all the more powerful, and “Rat On!” (Ratso’s fave LP cover of all time) has him riding a giant rat. If only to get the cover art restored to full size (even on the CD resissues it’s a full five inches instead of two mini-covers on the prior CDs) these loving reissues would be worth the price, but they also sound great.
“Gag A Maggott” from 1973 has also been reissued. As with “Rat On!” the protest overtones have been toned down in favor of his #2 specialty (cheating songs with a bizarre twist). Since Swamp’s label Stone Dogg was distributed by TK (the famed Miami soul label) he’s got damn near the whole roster pitching in. George McCrae (soon to record “Rock Your Baby”) and his wife Gwen (Rockin’ Chair”) and the underrated guitar of Little Beaver, who cut some fine jazz influenced blues discs of his own. Here he gets off some soulful strumming on “Please Let Me Kiss You Goodbye,” gets funky on “Choking to Death from the Ties that Bind,” and pretends he’s Jerry reed on the countryish “Plastered to the Wall.” There’s also  an early attempt at Calypso (which Swamp embraced wholeheartedly decades later) and the infamous “Wife Sitter.” You can’t beat the bonus material here a stunning cover of “Honky Tokn Woman” and Swamp’s great “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe.” Rat on, indeed!

WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY (online music site) – Positive album reviews of Irma’s album with cover art and audio streams.
Irma Thomas – The Soul Queen of New Orleans – Reissues In Between Tears
Alive Naturalsound Records has released the soul classic In Between Tears by Irma Thomas – the Soul Queen of New Orleans. Thomas’ third album was produced by Jerry Williams Jr (Swamp Dogg) and features Duane Allman on a couple cuts.  Irma Thomas never received the first name recognition of other 60’s soul divas like Aretha, Patti, Martha, Diana and Tina.  Much of this was due to the economic marginalization she experienced in her youth.  Irma had her first child at 14 and by the time she was 19 she had been married twice and had three more children.  Despite these roadblocks, Thomas managed to become noticed in the Crescent City music scene.  Her first two albums were produced by NOLA legend Allen Toussaint.  Her first album featured the original version of “Time is on My Side.”  The Rolling Stones recorded it soon after without a tip of the hat to Irma’s vocal phrasings or Toussaint’s instantly recognizable arrangement.

Irma continued to work with Toussaint and other producers.  Her biggest hit was the ’64 soul classic “I Wish Someone Would Care” which reached #17 on the Billboard R&B Charts.

Motown and Stax were the only labels with the infrastructure required for national distribution of music which had been, until recently, described and marketed as “race records.”  Relegated to small labels with poor distribution and minimal promotion budgets, Irma Thomas was never more than a regional presence during the 60’s. In the wake of Hurricane Camille in 1969, Irma left New Orleans to find a musical future in LA. This did not happen. Four years later she was back and looking to record.

Jerry Williams, whose production helped Betty Wright achieve national recognition. was selected to record Irma’s third album – “In Between Tears.”  The album is the music of a strong woman reflecting the nascent women’s movement of the the early 70’s.

Eight of the ten tracks were written by Jerry Williams Jr, aka Swamp Dogg Track 8 – “Turn My World Around” was penned by Irma Thomas. The fifth track – “You’re The Dog (I Do The Barking Myself)” features Duane Allman on guitar. The album is a soul classic which will complete the collection of Irma Thomas’ early recordings. Enjoy these two cuts. Let them be your entry ino the world of the Soul Queen of New Orleans.

Irma Thomas makes multiple appearances every year at Jazzfest.  I have been blessed to see her many times.  She has not lost a beat.  Buy this music now.  It is a great substitute for enjoying the lagniappe of New Orleans in person.  Go to Alive Naturalsound Records and order your copy.  While you are there check out Swamp Dogg’s “Gag a Maggot.”  It’s a musical twofer which should not be ignored.

BLINDED BY SOUND (online music site) – Positive album review of Irma’s LP.
Swamp Dogg: Gag A Maggot CD Review
By Greg Barbrick
Swamp Dogg was once described by Dave Marsh as “Soul music’s chief eccentric.” It is a title he more than lives up to on his third full-length release Gag A Maggot (1973), which has just been reissued by the Alive Records label. With Swamp Dogg, the entire LP package was important, and he seems to have had a particular interest in creating the worst album covers ever. In the reissue’s liner notes, he even laments the fact that the artwork for Gag A Maggot (with him in a trashcan) did not get as many votes for “worst album cover ever” as his previous Rat On! did. Well, the giant rat was kind of special I guess, but as far as the music goes, Gag A Maggot is every bit is memorable as Rat On! was.

The album opens with one of Dogg’s funniest tunes, “Wife Sitter.” As is the case on many of the tracks, the horns of The Swamp Dogg Band add an outstanding element to the classic R&B sound. “Please Let Me Kiss You Goodbye” is another excellent example of his powerhouse horn section. One of the more surprising ingredients in such a funky setting is the flute, which is used to great effect on “Mighty Mighty Dollar Bill.”

One constant throughout Gag A Maggot, and throughout the music of Swamp Dogg in general is the piano. This is what he plays, and its presence brings a strong roadhouse feel to songs like “T T,” and the closing “Plastered to the Wall (Higher than the Ceiling).” The most unusual cut on the original LP has to be his cover version of “In the Midnight Hour.” The song was a hit for Wilson Pickett, who co-wrote it with Steve Cropper back in 1965. I have to say that this version is basically unrecognizable, as it has been “Swamped” by the group. That is to say that this version has very little to do with what we have come to know, save the lyrics, and everything to do with Swamp Dogg. I think he does much better when he uses his own material however.

This new release also includes two bonus tracks, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe,” and “Honky Tonk Woman.” Both were recorded live for a 1972 broadcast on San Francisco’s KSAN radio station. “Mama’s Baby” was co-written by Swamp (Jerry Williams Jr.) and Gary U.S. Bonds and appeared on the 1970 album Total Destruction to Your Mind. “Honky Tonk Woman” is the Stones classic, and is pretty strong. Both are very stripped down, especially compared to the album tracks. I imagine this is because of the radio broadcast situation.

All in all, this reissue of Gag A Maggot is another great example of some of the finest funk and R&B going in the early ’70s, and should not be missed.

WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY (online music site) – Positive album reviews of Gag A Maggott.
Unchain your inner Dogg – Outsider Art in a Mainstream Package

Get it today!  Earlier this year, Alive NaturalSound reissued Swamp Dogg’s first two albums – Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On. This present from the swamp funk gods was reviewed by WYMA here.   Swamp Dogg is the product of early 60’s songwriter, producer, Nixon enemies list member and musical iconoclast  Jerry Williams, Jr.  Swamp Dogg’s eclectic taste is evident in the cover art for the first two albums.

For those of us who remember Swamp Dogg, these two reissues were not enough.  Something was missing. It’s like Curly and Larry without Moe, Bosh and Wade without James or Billy and Frank without Dusty.  Alive Natural Sounds has reissued the third album in this holy trinity of Swamp Dogg’s early 70’s releases.  Gag a Maggott completes this musical triptych of swamp funk, country soul, and cross cultural irreverence.

Swamp’s impeccable production values and musical arrangements recorded at Miami’s TK Studios with the horns of the Swamp Dogg Band, Ivan “Breeze” Olander’s drums and Willie “Little Beaver” Hale’s guitar.  (Little Beaver is a musician’s musician who inspired finger-picking god Leo Kottke to write an eponymous homage to Little Beaver’s finger picking skills.)  The result is difficult to describe.  Swamp is the ultimate musical and lyrical shapeshifter.  He and his bandmates are whatever the listener wants them to be.   Check out the requisite Swamp Dogg love song – “I Couldn’t Pay for What I got Last Night.”.  As I listen it is alternately Memphis soul, Nashville Country or Texas R&B.  The horn arrangements can change in a measure from the Memphis Horns to Ides of March “Vehicle.”  Swamp is a master while having fun with our ears.  He is constantly echoing The Contours famous lines…..”Watch me now, oh……Do you love me?” How can love not love Doggbrother Number One?

The remastered album includes two bonus tracks recored live in 1972 at KSAN radio:  “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe” and “Honky Tonk Woman”.

1.  Wife Sitter
2. Choking To Death (From The Ties That Bind)
3.  I Couldn’t Pay For What I Got Last Night
4.  Mighty Mighty Dollar Bill
5.  Midnight Hour
6.  Please Let Me Kiss You Goodbye
7.  T T
8.  Why Must We Fall (When We Fall In Love)
9.  Plastered To The Wall (Higher Than The Ceiling)
10.  Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe (Live) (CD & digital bonus track)
11.  Honky Tonk Woman (Live) (CD & digital bonus track)

This is not some raggedy-ass reissue music deserving to remain buried in the dust archives of soul impostors.  Swamp Dogg is the real thing.  The usual rating systems only scratch the surface of the man, the legend, the Doggfather.  5 stars or 10 out of 10 are deserved for his entire body of work.  Nobody has described Dogg better than himself:

“If your dog sleeps on the sofa, shits on the rug, pisses on the drapes, chews up your slippers, humps your mother-in-law’s leg, jumps on your new clothes, and licks your face, he’s never gotten out of character. You understand what he did, you curse while making allowances for him, but your love for him never diminishes. Commencing in 1970, I sung about sex, niggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution, and blood transfusions (just to name a few), and never got out of character.”

So be the the first on your block to do it Swamp Doggystyle.  Make your parents or kids squirm.   Order it now as a digital download, cd, or the grandeur of a color vinyl pressing.

LOS ANGELES EXAMINER (LA online music site) – Positive album review of TDTYM.
Schwindy’s indie music spotlight: Swamp Dogg
No, this review isn’t some new incarnation of Snoop Dogg. Swamp Dogg was here long before Snoop laid down his first rhymes.
I should say that when I first saw the title of this album, I thought it sounded like it could just as easily be a Funkadelic album. Then I heard the first lyrics: “Sittin’ on a Corn Flake, ridin’ on a rollerskate.” I don’t know about you, but the first artist that came to my mind with those absurd lyrics was Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Vocally, on the other hand, Swamp Dogg sounds a lot more like Sam Cooke or Willie Hightower. Think about that. The bizarre meets the smooth. That’s a good way to sum up this artist.

If you listen to the lyrics of “Synthetic World,” you might not guess that it was written recently instead of 1970. He expresses his disdain and fatigue for a world where what’s real is a freak. It seems just as pertinent now that so much of our personal interaction is done on social media.

Swamp Dogg is a great combination of funk and soul that will get you moving and thinking simultaneously. His first two albums Total Destruction to Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! (1971) have been remastered and re-released on Alive Naturalsound Records. Both albums are available now and if you like old-time soul, you should add them to your collection.

BLINDED BY SOUND (online music site) – Positive album review of Irma’s LP.
Irma Thomas – In Between Tears CD Review
By Greg Barbric
“The Soul Queen of New Orleans” is what they call Irma Thomas, and after listening to her newly reissued In Between Tears, I can certainly see why. The album was initially released in 1973 on the homegrown Fungus Records label, so it has remained well under the radar for the past 40 years. As part of what is turning out to be a remarkable reissue program, Alive Records have just re-released In Between Tears. The record has been fully remastered, and two bonus tracks have been added. It is one of the finest examples of early ’70s soul I have ever heard.

The opening track is “In Between Tears,” and it is a literal blast of horns, courtesy of “The Swamp Dogg Band.” Swamp Dogg, a.k.a. Jerry Williams Jr. and his band are all over this album, and it is clear that they were one of the most underrated R&B outfits of the day. This is very much Ms. Thomas’ record though. Her powerful vocals reflect a woman who knows exactly what she is doing.

It is no surprise that Irma Thomas grew up in the church, for many of the best tracks have something of a gospel feel. This is most noticeable on “You’re The Dog (I Do The Barking Myself).” This track is also graced by the presence of Duane Allman. Apparently Allman just happened to be hanging out at the Capricorn Studios at the time, which worked out well for everybody. His guitar playing is most noticeable during the fadeout. To be honest, there are no real fireworks, but his performance on the album’s centerpiece is a very different story.

The twelve-and-a-half minute medley “Coming From Behind” (Monologue)/ “Wish Someone Would Care” is amazing. Thomas takes a cue from Issac Hayes’ classic “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” in the lengthy monologue “Coming From Behind,” and shows us that she is nobody’s fool. “I’m in love, but I’m miserable,” she states at one point, and Lord help the man who made her feel that way. This is no purring  kitten, nor is she hardened and angry. No, she is a real lady, unlucky in love, but willing to work to make it work. To hear such brutal honesty on a record is a compelling factor to be sure, but the quality of the conviction in her voice is something else again.

Thomas wrote “Wish Someone Would Care,” which is the song that the monologue leads in to. She really lets loose here, and Allman’s contributions are the perfect compliment to her voice. The gospel-tinged “Turn My World Around” closed out the original LP, and once again the horns of The Swamp Dogg Band shine brightly.

The two bonus tracks are fine examples of early ’70s soul as well. “We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore” and “I’ll Do It All Over You” were the A and B sides of a stand-alone single. They serve as great additions to the set.

When Alive reissued the first two Swamp Dogg albums a couple of months ago, I was impressed. Those were records that I had heard a lot about, but had never had the chance to actually hear. It seemed like a really cool find for them, and I really did not expect anything more. With the release of In Between Tears I am seeing a much bigger picture. There was some serious music going on in the original Dogg’s scene, and it was not just confined to his own recordings. The quality of the musicianship behind Irma here reminds me of the amazing house band at Stax, which is high praise. I sure hope there are more gems like this just waiting for our discovery. For now though, In Between Tears will do very nicely indeed.

ABOUT.BLUES (online bluesmusic site) – Positive album reviews with album art in New May Releases
Irma Thomas – ‘In Between Tears’ (Alive Naturalsound Records)
“Irma Thomas’ In Between Tears”Photo courtesy Alive Naturalsound Records

New Orleans music legend Irma Thomas had all but given up her career when she was coaxed back into the studio by producer Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams to record a series of singles for Cactus Records in L.A. in 1969 and 1970 that featured a young hotshot guitarist by the name of Duane Allman. Williams later convinced Thomas to record the full-length album In Between Tears, a lost classic of soul, blues, and gospel music sung as only Thomas could belt ’em out. Aside from the eight original album tracks, this 2013 first-time CD reissue includes Thomas’s 1971 single “We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore” b/w “I’d Do It All Over You,” both songs featuring Allman, as well as new liner notes from Swamp Dogg himself. (Release date: 05/14/13)

“Swamp Dogg’s Gag A Maggott”Photo courtesy Alive Naturalsound Records

Gag A Maggott was the illustriously-named fourth album from cult R&B legend Swamp Dogg, a visionary collection of funk, soul, and blues music that was originally recorded in 1973 at TK Studios in Miami with a slate of talented players. The album featured a solid cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour” as well as the original blues-burner “Choking To Death (from The Ties That Bind),” which would later be covered by Canned Heat. This first-time CD reissue includes two previously-unreleased bonus tracks recorded live at the KSAN-FM radio studios in 1972, and the CD booklet includes new liner notes from Swamp Dogg and a number of rare photos from the Dogg’s personal archives. (Release date: 05/14/13)

ELSEWHERE (NZ online music site) – Positive feature/review with photos and album art.
SWAMP DOGG PROFILED (2013): Covering up his talents
The world of popular music is populated by lost prophets, wandering souls, damaged geniuses and those taken too young. There are also musicians who couldn’t handle the sudden fame thrust upon them, and those who couldn’t handle it when fame never knocked on their door or suddenly abandoned them.

This is a world of venal villains (record companies, managers and lawyers usually) and artists who were often their victims.

Swamp Dogg – born Jerry Williams in 1942 – endured some of the above and after a short career under his own name, adopted his new moniker . . . and it was all downhill as far as sales went.

His two early Dogg albums Total Destruction of Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! from the following year (in a hilariously awful cover of him riding a white rat) all but disappeared.

Their recent reissue allows us to hear an often exceptional soul-funk singer who had country music in his bloodstream. Proof of the latter is he and Gary US Bonds co-wrote the country classic She’s All I Got (a hit for Johnny Paycheck and much covered).

Dogg began his recording life as Little Jerry Williams in the late Fifties then became a songwriter and producer for Atlantic Records where he hung out with the likes of Jerry Wexler and Phil Walden. Good grounding for what would follow.

He continued to record with little conspicuous success but because he had grown up with country music his sympathetic ear for the style kept him in studio work as a writer/producer.

swamptotalHowever a name change to Swamp Dogg and a determination to deliver edgy soul mixed with country (not an unfamiliar idiom, see here) meant his Dogg debut was fittingly recorded at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia.

By any measure it’s a remarkable record for its amalgamation of tough funk with horns, deep soul and slippery country. He covers Georgia-born Joe South’s poke at southern white racists on Redneck and These Are Not My People, Bobby Goldsboro’s post-apocalypse but trite The World Beyond, co-wrote three with Gary US Bonds and another with Dee Irwin on I Was Born Blue. The other five all came from him, among them Synthetic World which opens “Hey you, I come from the bayou”. You believe him, even though he was from inner-city Portsmouth in Virginia which is closer to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachians than the swamp.

But he certainly knew his southern country, as you can hear in the horns and guitars which he arranged for the yearning ballad I Was Born Blue (which has some rather odd lyrics, it has to be said) and Sal-A-Faster about moonshine.

Although not a lost classic – the Goldsboro, despite Dogg’s soulful yearning, pulls it back – Total Destruction nails down some furious soul-funk (the title track) and showcases a true southern country-soul singer (check Dust Your Head Color Red) who deserved better than for it to fail.

His own The Baby is Mine is a heartbreaking account of a separated father whose child now has another father-figure in their life who jealously makes trouble when Dogg visits his ex-wife – whom he no longer cares for – and their baby.

swamp_dogg_rat_onHowever he did himself no favours with the awful artwork for Rat On! which is usually in any list of the worst album covers of all time (although it’s surprising the photo on Total Destruction doesn’t make the list also). Which was a shame because he was always a (mostly) serious artist and again touched on important topics like infidelity (Predicament #2, That Ain’t My Wife), politics (remember I Said Tomorrow) and race (God Bless America For What). He also covers the Bee Gees Got to Get a Message To You and Mickey Newbury’s country hit She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye.

In the liner notes he writes “produced, arranged, piano, vocal background and everything else of any importance Jerry Williams Jr” and also claims the cover concept. It was the cover, he writes in the reissue, that kept the album from disappearing into obscurity.

2009_swamp_doggHis penchant for crazy covers continued through his subsequent career (one equally odd one was for An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year).

And although he continued to record albums, co-wrote a book about a fictional soul singer and had great if occasional success as a songwriter and producer, Swamp Dogg is a name that mostly exists in footnotes.

But these two albums capture a strong soul-country singer who was somewhat outside the mainstream, and one well worth investigating.

Never judge an album by its cover, huh?

By Graham Reid, posted May 6, 2013

HOME OF THE GROOVE(online music blog) – Positive feature on Swamp & Irma’s Canyon Sessions
IRMA & SWAMP DOGG: The Canyon Sessions
Back in March, out of the blue, David Marchese from SPIN sent me this link to his impressive feature on Jerry ‘Swamp Dogg’ Williams, Jr., a truly independent and amazingingly prolific R&B artist, writer, producer, publisher, label-owner, and walking definition of  “gonzo”. I knew various bits and pieces about the man and his career; but the article was a welcome and entertaining overview that taught me more. It is great to know he’s still alive and musically kickin’ it at age 70.

Kudos to David for conveying a sense of Swamp Dogg’s multifaceted  personality, along with the talent and savvy that have kept him navigating the back alleys of the music business for over half a century (he cut his first record at 12). Lesser mortals might have packed it in long ago, but he’s maintained the spark and refused to fade away. Read the article and marvel at his, um, Doggedness.

As far as HOTG goes, Swamp Dogg has never had more than a tangential association with New Orleans music;; and 99% of that revolves around his brief but intense collaboration with one of the city’s most revered soul artists, Irma Thomas. In 1970, he was called upon to write, arrange and produce an album’s worth of material on her for the Canyon label, which folded before the LP could be released. Several years later, Swamp Dogg found the means to put it out, albeit briefly, as In Between Tears on his own imprint.

I found my copy in the bins of a Memphis used record store over 20 years ago, and have since picked up several reissues of it, as well as a few of the related 45s; but it took David’s solid nudge to get me motivated to investigate the backstory of the project and (slowly) pull together this post.

[Notes: Information herein has been gleaned from my own research and several significant sources: David Marchese’s “The Real Mother****ing Doggfather”, as mentioned and linked above, from SPIN, dated March 5, 2013; Jeff Hannusch’s chapter on Irma Thomas in I Hear You Knockin’ (Swallow Publications, 1985); Swamp Dogg’s notes to the 1993 Shanachie CD, Turn My World Around, and 2000 S.D.E.G. CD, The Little Jerry Williams Anthology (1954-1969); plus Tony Rounce’s fine notes to the excellent 2006 Kent Soul CD compilation, Irma Thomas, A Woman’s Viewpoint: The Essential 1970s Recordings. Also of extreme help is David Chance’s massively annotated Jerry Williams, Jr./Swamp Dogg Discography, not to be missed for you completists who don’t know about it already.

In Between Tears was first reissued on a Charly (UK) LP in 1981. The also now out of print Shanachie CD noted above contained Swamp Dogg’s Canyon material on Irma, but with certain of the original rhythm tracks replaced by him with newly recorded players. In 2007, he released Two Phases of Irma Thomas, on his own Swamp Dogg Entertainment Group label, a CD compiling the original album along with the 1993 version. Also, Alive Naturalsound Records will soon reissue the original album on vinyl and CD. So, find a way to add it to your collection.]


In my February post on Allen Toussaint’s 1965 career reboot, I mentioned in passing that Irma’s promising recording career had several setbacks in the mid-1960s. Imperial Records signed her after their parent company, Liberty Records, bought out Joe Banashak’s Minit label in 1963. Starting in 1964, she cut a string of good to excellent singles for Imperial, recorded mostly in Los Angeles, with at least four songs getting into the charts. Her self-penned “Wish Someone Would Care” was the most successful, becoming a Top 20 hit; but prospects cooled down by 1965, even when Imperial teamed her up with Toussaint back home for the outstanding “Take A Look”/”What Are Trying To Do” (#66137) and other tunes. So, the company let her go.

At that point, Irma went without a recording contract for over a year. As I said in that prior post, I’ve found nothing to indicate that Toussaint and his new partner in Tou-Sea Productions, Marshall Sehorn, attempted to sign Irma in the interim – a missed opportunity that has never been adequately explained. But, since she had no chance to record, Irma worked the Southern and Gulf Coast circuit playing club and college dates to support her family, also spending nearly a month in 1966 performing on tour in England. She had gone there earlier on the success of ”Wish Someone Would Care” and was still in demand.

Around the start of 1967, Chess Records signed Irma to their roster. The label had developed a prominent soul market presence with Etta James among others others on their roster, making the addition of Irma look like a very good move for all concerned. Spurred by Aretha Franklin’s success on Atlantic Records with the Muscle Shoals sound, Chess soon sent Etta, Laura Lee, and Irma for sessions at producer Rick Hall’s Fame [Florence Alabama Music Enterprises] Studios, backed primarily by famed house band, the Swampers. Irma’s sessions resulted in over a dozen finished tracks of fine material written by Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham, Otis Redding, Maurice Dollison, and Oliver Sain, among others. Her excitement at recording there plus the great musicians and gritty, very soulful material brought out some of the best performances of her career.

But, after releasing only three singles from the sessions, none of which were commercially successful, Chess summarily let her go. As Irma explained it to Jeff Hannusch, the company refused to promote her singles or release any more of them because she would not consent to have her gigs controlled by a budding music business mogul, Phil Walden. His agency in Macon, Georgia had a deal with Chess and other labels to book their artists; but Irma balked in particular at the large cut he took out of the performance fees (some of which probably got kicked back to the label). Though she made a brave stand, it meant that Irma missed out on a lot of helpful national touring exposure, as Walden also managed Otis Redding, and booked Sam & Dave, and, of course, Etta James, among many other names in soul music.

[I need to do a re-post on Irma’s Chess sides, it’s been almost 10 years since I briefly touched on them when all my vinyl was in storage after moving. So, they’re now on the list again….]

By 1968, recording opportunities at home had quickly deteriorated due to the bankruptcy and demise of the only significant local studio and associated distribution operation, both owned by the legendary Cosimo Matassa. Many of the independent labels in the area that he did business with closed down or went on hiatus, leaving Irma no chance to make a record in the once thriving scene. Gigs for R&B artists were scarce in New Orleans, as well, with rock bands ruling the roost and a shrinking list of venues to play. So, she went back to working along Gulf Coast, at least until the devastating Hurricane Camille came down hard on the area in the summer of 1969, shutting down or leveling many of the clubs she regularly played.  In the aftermath, Irma parted ways with her band and moved to Los Angeles, working days as a retail clerk to make ends meet and doing pick-up gigs on the weekends, singing mainly cover tunes.

In L.A., Irma reconnected with some New Orleans expatriate musicians and artists who she had known early in her career, including Harold Battiste and Mac Rebennack. That led to some session work as a backing singer, and probably helped bring her to the attention of aspiring label-owner Wally Roker.  A veteran of a New York doo-wop vocal group, the Heartbeats, he had subsequently worked around the business as a publisher, producer and promo man for various outfits, and was just cranking up an independent of his own, Canyon Records, as the decade rolled over.

Roker was swift to scoop up Irma for his new venture and put her in the studio with Monk Higgins (a/k/a Milton Bland) arranging and running the session. Higgins had made his mark on the Chicago scene as a saxophonist, writer, and producer/arranger before relocating to L.A. around the same time as Irma. The resulting tracks were issued as her initial Canyon single late in 1969 or early 1970.

“Save A Little Bit For Me” (Mamie Galore-Dee Ervin-Monk Higgins)

Irma Thomas, Canyon 21, 1969

“That’s How I Feel About You” (Vee Pee-Mamie Galore-R. Brooks)

Though displaying #21, this single was really only the label’s fourth release. Roker started numbering at 18, since it was commonly thought to be beneficial to give DJs the illusion that a record company had been around for a while. Higgins co-wrote the top side with his wife, who generally went by Virginia Davis or Mamie Galore on writing credits, and Dee Ervin (a/k/a DiFosco Ervin, Jr). Ms Galore is also acknowledged as writer of the flip along with one Vee Pea, which BMI shows as an alias for….Virginia Bland (she needed two alias on one song?). Ray Brooks (a/k/a Marshall R. Greathouse in the BMI database) also got in on the credits. Obviously, these folks were well-prepared to make an end-run around the IRS, should either of these songs have struck paydirt and generated royalties; but that contingency failed to arise.

While Irma did a fine job on the mid-tempo soul of “Save A Little Bit For Me”, which has a pleasant-enough, generic gospel feel, the song just doesn’t go much of anywhere musically. The real keeper to me is her take on the other side’s deeper and much more engaging “That’s How I Feel About You”. It is simply killer, sounding like something from her Imperial pop catalog in terms of style and instrumentation. Still, neither side registered enough airplay to trigger sales, and left Roker to consider another approach to effectively utilize and display Irma’s soulful assets.

To retool, he turned to a multi-faceted talent who had recently signed on to provide services for Canyon.


He was one weird dude, but he knew how to take care of business. – Irma Thomas’ nutshell assessment of Swamp Dogg, as quoted in I Hear You Knockin’

Jerry William, Jr. came to Canyon in his late 20s after having worked for Atlantic Records’ new Cotillion label for a frustrating year or so. A recording artist since his teens, he had been on a succession of labels in New York and Philadelphia, and involved in writing and production, too. At Cotillion he cut a few singles himself and produced records for other vocalists, but scored no hits and was unable to deal with the corporate record-making mindset that had become the Atlantic Group status quo. So, he and they parted ways in 1969. Several LSD trips during the period left his creative spigot stuck open and tricked-out his already singular nature with a new attitude, inspiring Williams to write a bunch of new material and head South to record. In his recollections to Marchese, Swamp Dogg pegged the spot for those sessions as Muscle Shoals with the Swampers backing him. But it must have been a slip of the tongue, since they occurred one state over with a different band.

In his liner notes to Little Jerry Williams Anthology (1954-1969), Williams recounted how in 1969 he approached Phil Walden, who had just opened Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, about a partnering in a production deal. They reached an agreement, and Walden gave Williams use of the studio and staff musicians (though not the Swampers, a few had played at Fame) to record artists doing his material to be placed with outside labels. The first projects were albums on Tyrone Thomas (a/k/a Wolfmoon) and Doris Duke. Williams placed the eponymous Wolfmoon LP with Capitol Records; but they soon had second thoughts and killed the deal. As for Duke’s album, Williams shopped it around without success, until he went to L.A. and found Wally Roker, who agreed to release it on his new Canyon imprint. The LP, I’m A Loser, and first single taken from it for radio play both charted. Things were starting to pop.
His next production session at Capricorn led indirectly to him doing an album of his own. After recording a local singer, JoAnn Bunn, doing two of his songs with disappointing results, Williams overdubbed his own vocals on the tracks and took them out to Roker, who gave him the green light to make his first-ever LP. He told Roker that he wanted to call himself “The Dogg” on the record to make a break with his earlier career; then, while back in Macon to cut the rest of the material, the session band described the Dogg’s sound as “swamp music”, which caused him to hatch the full Swamp Dogg moniker – at least that’s how he recalled it in 2000.

Swamp Dogg’s Total Destruction To Your Mind [newly reissued] came out on Canyon in 1970 along with two spin-off singles and met with near total broadcast indifference, or maybe it was stunned confusion at his Zappa-esque multi-genre approach. In any case, with no radio play to speak of, the records neither charted nor sold. Undeterred, he plunged ahead with productions on several other artists he brought to Capricorn, working almost non-stop on albums by Raw Spitt (a/k/a Charlie Whitehead) and Sandra Phillips (Too Many People In One Bed) that would also be released on Canyon with the same resounding thud of hitting a commercial brick wall.

Essentially the same rhythm section played on all those sessions: drummer Johnny Sandlin, keyboardist Paul Hornsby, guitarist Jesse ‘Pete’ Carr, and bassist Robert ‘Pops’ Popwell. All except Popwell had played in the Hour Glass with Gregg and Duane Allman a few years earlier. Sandlin and Hornsby were young veterans of the Alabama rock and soul scene, and wound up in Macon through their connections to the Allman’s, who had signed with Walden’s management company and were recording at Capricorn. Carr became a regular session player in Muscle Shoals around the time of these recordings, and was just doing some side work with his old bandmates.

Meanwhile back in L.A., Roker wanted to give Irma a better shot, and contracted with Swamp Dogg to take over the making of her next single, with a full LP to follow. There was no material at hand, so the ever-enterprising producer, as he asserted in the Shanachie CD notes, enlisted a friend, George McGregor, another A&R man, to come up with two good instrumental tracks that SD could write lyrics to and use for the 45 sides. McGregor obliged, supposedly creating and recording them the next day in Muscle Shoals where he was doing some sessions at an unnamed studio. I am assuming the recording was done at Muscle Shoals Sound, recently opened by the Swampers, because the Shanachie CD, which includes those sides, credits certain members of the MSS studio crew for playing on them, along with the Memphis Horns and pianist Spooner Oldham (a former Swamper). That would also explain the high level of playing.

In short order, McGregor caught a flight to L.A. to deliver the tapes to Swamp Dogg, who claims to have written lyrics for both sides within a few hours of getting them (with help from Troy Davis on the B-side). He then rehearsed with Irma for a couple more, cut her vocals, and delivered the masters to Canyon by the next afternoon. Even if he hyped that timeline just a bit in the telling, obviously Irma was right about his work ethic. Her second Canyon single hit the streets in a relative flash.

“I’d Do It All Over You” (Jerry Williams, Jr)

Irma Thomas, Canyon 31, 1970

That these songs have a country music feel to varying degrees is likely no accident. Williams may have ordered them up that way, as he has acknowledged being strongly influenced by country artists he heard on the radio while growing up in Portsmouth, Virginia. Generally, that manifests in the lyrics he writes with their down-home turns of phrase and strong narrative elements – characteristics that both country and soul music share.

For “I’d Do It All Over You”, McGregor [who, strangely, got no writing credit for either song] designed an upbeat, straightforward, rockin’ country sounding romp. The Memphis Horns pulled the feel over to the R&B side, which Irma reinforced with her own soulful, throwdown-hoedown delivery. Still, the song’s jokey title line hook kept it fairly lightweight.

“We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore” (Jerry Williams, Jr – Troy Davis)

Once again, the B-side proved to be more impressive.  Musically, “We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore” has a great mid-tempo soul feel and arrangement, augmented by a repeating section with a rock progression and some hot lead guitar riffing that serves as the intro, the lead-up to the third verse key modulation, and the ride-out. Irma sounds perfectly in her element here, investing much grit and emotion into the song’s strong storyline about a marriage breaking-up, while she deftly navigated some tricky, at times prolix, wording. If indeed she only had a few hours to learn these songs before cutting them, her talent and professionalism deserve even more props than usual. She showed herself to be a worthy match for Swamp Dogg’s go-for-it attitude.

Upon completing the 45, the producer took Irma to his home in New York to work up material and rehearse for the forthcoming album sessions. [I can only assume that Roker was picking up the tab for all the production-related travel expenses Swamp Dogg and his associates were racking up.] They spent about a week in preparations, then went down to Macon for the sessions at Capricorn. As noted earlier, the studio band were pretty much the same players who worked with Swamp Dogg on his other Canyon projects there, with the addition of Duane Allman [uncredited on the original LP cover] on two tracks. The drummer, shown only as “Squirm”, is a question mark, though. I’m unsure if that was Johnny Sandlin, who was doing more engineering and producing for the studio and new Capricorn label. Bill Stewart might be another possibility.

Once the majority of the tracking was done, Swamp Dogg sent his boss a reference copy to hear; and, after reviewing it, Roker called Capricorn and cancelled any further sessions, declaring the album complete and perfect as it was.  Even though some additional overdubs (“sweetening”) and a final mix had not been done, SD says his outsized ego led him to agree with Roker’s assessment; but, as it turned out, there was another motive for the sessions being cut off.

Canyon was deep in debt, its finances depleted. Before the album could be released, Roker took the company into bankruptcy and quickly out of business. The only Canyon/Swamp Dogg success stories had been Doris Duke’s album and first single [both still highly regarded by soul fans], which reached respectable levels on the charts; but sales were insufficient to cover the production costs for the label’s many other records that did not register at all with radio and the public. Not wanting to see his efforts go to waste, Swamp Dogg purchased the master tapes for Irma’s album from Canyon, probably at liquidation sale prices  It would take several more years, but the ardent over-achiever kept hustling and eventually found a way to get it released.

At some point before the transaction, Roker managed to press up one more 45 on Irma, using two tracks from the Capricorn session tapes. He put it out on his own very short-lived, self-named label, seemingly set up in hopes of having a Hail Mary hit that would get him back into the black – the independent record business, of course, being nothing more than hard core gambling by another name.

“These Four Walls” (Len [sic] Farr)
Irma Thomas, Roker 502, 1970

This is one of only two songs from Irma’s Canyon sessions that Swamp Dogg did not have a hand in writing. Composed by Lynne [sometimes shown as Lynn, but simply misspelled on the label credit] Farr, it featured the same fine production treatment as the rest of the tracks and a top notch vocal by Irma. What the tune lacked was a truly engaging melody and structure that could have made it a sure-fire radio standout. As we will see, there were others to choose from that could have better fit the bill.

The flip side, “Woman’s Viewpoint”, was simply an excerpt from the extended monologue Swamp Dogg wrote for Irma that was part of a lengthy medley [discussed below] taking up the majority of the second side of the LP when it was finally released. Though the monologue wasn’t prime radio material either, Irma has used it as part of her stage act for many years.

None of the handful of singles on Roker, including Irma’s, brought about the desired miracle, each quickly falling by the wayside, as another label bit the dust. Yet Roker the man survived the ordeals and worked in the music business for decades thereafter.

Following the Canyon debacle, Irma had a rebound fling with Atlantic Records, whose Cotillion subsidiary came courting as 1971 rolled around. It is tempting to think that Swamp Dogg recommended her to the label; but I have no hard evidence to back that up. According to Tony Rounce, Cotillion recorded her at several locations over the next year, including Detroit (!?), where sessions for a potential LP took place, as well as Miami (at Criteria), Philadelphia (at Sigma Sound), and, finally, Jackson, Mississippi at Malaco. For reasons unknown, probably corporate dithering, out of all that tape, the only two songs Cotillion got around to releasing came from her one Malaco session. “Full Time Woman”/“She’s Taken My Part” appeared on a lone single (#44144) issued late in the year, and were decent tunes well-produced by Wardell Quezergue during his incredible run at the studio [covered here in 2011 and 2012].

Despite impressive performances from Irma, the record was not pushed and went nowhere. Rather than give her another chance and more promotion, Cotillion mysteriously showed her the door instead. From what Rounce relates in his notes to the Kent CD, her many other tracks for the label remain tied up in corporate legal limbo and probably will never be available for issue by anybody. We will never know what treasures there may be slowly oxidizing on some shelf.


Around 1973, Swamp Dogg somehow convinced the North American division of the BASF Corporation, a huge German chemical manufacturing company that made myriad industrial products, to back his new record label, Fungus. [How I wish I could have been at that presentation meeting. I imagine him promising that it would spread widely and be hard to eradicate.]. With a seemingly modest financial infusion from BASF, he was finally able to release the languishing Wolfmoon LP [which he has described as “pop gospel”] and Irma’s In Between Tears, plus a new album by Charlie Whitehead, along with several related 45s; but none took hold on the radio or in the marketplace. It appears that Swamp Dogg was not able to secure national distribution for his label or an adequate promotional budget to propagate his product.

Thus Fungus never thrived, persisting for only about a year before BASF, whose closest prior brush with the music business had been making recording tape, thought better of their tentative venture and cut off Swamp Dogg’s cash flow – a move that consigned the label’s few offerings to the realm of future collectables.

For Irma’s long delayed and finally realized album, the failure of Fungus was tragic. Despite trippy but amateurish cover artwork that didn’t well represent the content, In Between Tears  held songs that effectively showcased her talents and deserved to be heard by the public at large. Here is some ample proof that she and Swamp Dogg were a good match in the studio.

“In Between Tears” (J. Williams, Jr – T. Davis)
Irma Thomas, from In Between Tears, Fungus 25150, 1973/1974

Another of Swamp Dogg’s collaborations with Troy Davis, this strong title song was worthy of Irma’s emotive, utterly engaging vocal treatment. It was also released on a Fungus single (#15141) in 1973, the second of only two spun off from the LP, and certainly merited radio play and a place in the charts. Instead it got the commercial cold shoulder, even though the entire album had a positive mention in the “Also Recommended” section of Billboard’s “Top Album Picks” during September, 1973, as well as a mini-review in their July, 1974 “Recommended LP’s” listings. Both rightly noted this song as one of the stronger offerings.

Listening to the cut on the original album, it is hard for me to fathom why Swamp Dogg later lamented that the album was “unfinished” and became so dissatisfied with his production work that he replaced much of the rhythm section parts with new players for the Shanachie CD some 20 years later. One can always second guess here and there, but the solid arrangements and session playing done at Capricorn still stand up well. Obviously (and thankfully), he had a change of heart, as his Two Phases of Irma Thomas CD in 2007 contained both the first version and its remuddled counterpart; and the latest reissue goes back to the source tapes with just up-to-date remastering.

“You’re The Dog (I Do The Barking Myself)” (J. Williams – G. Bonds – C. Whitehead)

Swamp Dogg wrote this punchy slice of Southern soul with two other of his collaborators, Gary “US” Bonds and Charlie Whitehead. He put it on the B-side of Irma’s first Fungus single, with the deeper  “She’ll Never Be Your Wife” on the topside.

One of the first things you notice on “You’re The Dog” is a heavier grit that builds in Irma’s voice as the song goes along. The quirky lyrics call out the so-called man in her character’s life for not living up to his part of the bargain. As with many of the album’s other numbers, it’s theme relates to the emotions and resilience of a woman wronged in a relationship – a worthy concept perhaps inspired by Irma’s personal story. Another notable feature of this track is a taste of Duane Allman’s lead guitar playing. That’s him bending strings with a touch of distortion during the ride-out, counter-punching with Irma’s outright screams.

“What’s So Wrong With You Loving Me” (J. Williams – C. Whitehead)

Making a case for infidelity, this composition by Swamp Dogg and Charlie Whitehead strays from the general theme I just mentioned, but is one my two favorite cuts in terms of song structure and production values, ranking up there with the title track. The high class arrangement brought in a tympani drum; and the string section, used tastefully throughout the record, has a more prominent role here.

However gonzo Williams wanted to appear on his own records, with Irma he was a sympathetic producer intent on providing material and arrangements that would display her talent to its best advantage. In the case of “What’s So Wrong”, he again gave the music a radio-worthy, mainstream sound, while Irma’s earnest, soulful delivery of the subject matter kept the track real and relatable.

“Turn My World Around” (J. Williams – C. Whitehead)

This all too brief closing track of the LP comes after a lengthy (almost 14 minutes) medley on side 2 featuring the extended monologue, “Coming From Behind”, and an over 7 minute reworking of Irma’s own classic composition, “Wish Someone Would Care”, that gets so intensely deep that you almost need to be in a pressurized suit to listen to it.

On “Wish”, Swamp Dogg stretched her performance to the point of excess, pushing Irma to her vocal and emotional limits for the sake of the theme mentioned above; and she showed herself to have the incredible strength and stamina to take it that far. Impressive as that is, the long track makes for demanding listening, and does not lend itself frequent plays.

Instead of leaving the downtempo medley as the album’s final statement, SD used the much more upbeat “Turn My World Around” as the thematic closer. It’s no lightweight throwaway, even though the lyrics seem a bit more like an afterthought. The production values were as high and substantial as on any of the other cuts; and Irma’s performance is just as worth taking in – so much so that the fade-out really is at least a minute premature.

When considering the collaboration of these two great artists, one takeaway for me is that, ultimately, Swamp Dogg’s creative efforts and skills in crafting an album that allowed Irma to shine were undone by his lack of the marketing clout needed to get the best songs onto the national airwaves for maximum exposure. Irma’s old fans and prospective new ones lost out on some great music and the many pleasures of hearing her in her prime [which she’s still in, btw!]. It’s an all too common story of the pitfalls of independent record-making, where having a worthy product is only half the battle.

Had a larger label taken the record over from Fungus, repackaged and pushed it, In Between Tears might have given the singer’s career a needed boost during a decade of record-making doldrums.

How disappointing and frustrating it must have been for Irma to have cut great performances for a succession of labels, many of which were not released; with the ones that did make it to vinyl not getting heard, either.   As Irma told Hannusch back in the early 1980s,

At this point I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never have another national hit.You’ve just got to have big bucks. It’s been my luck to be with [either] a small company that can’t promote, or a big company that won’t promote. I honestly don’t know what to record anymore.

Fortunately, a few years after she said that, her world finally turned around. She began to fully come into her own as a recording artist and concert performer when Rounder Records, a rare breed of independent label with their own distribution network, came into New Orleans on a mission to lift some of its greatest musical artists out of their relative obscurity into the national spotlight. With their support and a gifted producer, Scott Billington, her popularity has continued to grow through a string of excellent albums; and in 2007, she received a Grammy Award for her Rounder CD, After the Rain.

It is also gratifying to see Swamp Dogg getting attention again, too, through new reissues of his own records and productions for others. His belief in the value of In Between Tears and enduring appreciation of Irma’s gifts kept the album alive in various forms over decades by way of licensing and repackaging. May the latest versions bring still more fans to both of them and finally win accolades for the masterful product of the serendipitous pairing of their soulful talents.

ABOUT.BLUES (online bluesmusic site) – Positive album review with album art
Alive Reissues Classic Irma Thomas and Swamp Dogg LPs
By Reverend Keith A. Gordon
Alive Naturalsound Records takes another huge step next month in their campaign to rescue vintage soul and R&B from the dustbin of obscurity when they reissue two sadly overlooked classics of 1970s-era R&B by Swamp Dogg and Irma Thomas. On May 14th, 2013 the label will reissue Swamp Dogg’s Gag A Maggott and Irma Thomas’s In Between Tears for the first time on CD and on vinyl for the first time since their original 1973 releases.

New Orleans music legend Irma Thomas had left the city in the wake of Hurricane Camille in 1969 and headed to Los Angeles, largely eschewing the music business and working in retail. She dipped her toe back into the pop music waters with a series of singles for Cactus Records that were produced by the one and only Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams and featured a young guitar hot-shot by the name of Duane Allman. Williams convinced Thomas to go into the studio and record the full-length album In Between Tears, the producer coaxing eight incredible gospel-tinged performances from the underrated soul-blues singer. The Alive reissue of In Between Tears includes the 1971 single, “We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore” and “I’d Do It All Over You,” both featuring Allman, as bonus tracks on the CD and digital release of the album. Swamp Dogg also penned new liner notes for the CD reissue.

Swamp Dogg’s Gag A Maggott LPSwamp Dogg’s reputation had preceded the release of Gag A Maggott, his fourth album of slightly-skewed Southern soul and blues that took the raunch ‘n’ roll of singers like Big Joe Turner and Andre Williams to new creative heights. Although the Dogg’s first two albums – 1970’s Total Destruction To Your Mind and the following year’s Rat On! – had enjoyed a modicum of commercial success, he was back on the indie circuit by 1973 and Gag A Maggott, where his unique artistic vision added elements of funk to his old-school soul and blues sound. The album was originally recorded at the legendary TK Studios in Miami with a number of talented players and featured a solid cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour” as well as a the original blues-burner “Choking To Death (From The Ties That Bind),” which would be covered on record by Canned Heat in 1974. The Alive CD and digital versions includes two previously-unreleased bonus tracks, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe” and “Honky Tonk Woman,” both recorded live at the KSAN-FM radio studios in 1972, and the CD booklet includes new liner notes from Swamp Dogg and a number of rare photos from the Dogg’s personal archives.

Photos courtesy Alive Naturalsound Records

OFF THE TRACKS (NZ online music site) – Positive album review with album art
Swamp Dogg: Total Destruction To Your Mind
Total Destruction To Your Mind

Reissued after years of languishing, Total Destruction To Your Mind is the first album by Swamp Dogg. It was released in 1970. Swamp Dogg is one of a handful of pseudonyms used by Jerry Williams Jr, songwriter, record producer and recording artist.

The Swamp Dogg material comes over – in this day and age – like some imagined relic. You could probably convince someone, easily, that it is in fact Jackie Wilson singing for Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label. And in a way that is what Williams was doing, updating his own soul-crooning sound with some of the rock-influenced funk and soul of the era.

There’s an almost country-croon to the way Williams’ pinched vocal sounds out over subdued funk and soul. It’s quite beautiful. And there’s something in the sound that resonates today, far more memorable than the host of pretenders lining up to try to be James Brown (Charles Bradley don’t take a bow).

Total Destruction features hints too of the hippie/psychedelic era, so there’s protest music in with the preaching, a strange hybrid of psychedelic soul and subverted gospel music. There’s a purity in the singing that is almost hypnotising. And those backing tracks have shadows of Motown and Stax too. Check out the title track. Cool stuff.

BMAN’S BLUES REPORT (blues music site) – News post (from press release)

MADD CHICAGO (Chicago-based music site) – Positive news post with album art and mp3s.
Swamp Dogg to re-issue two more albums
Long forgotten soul legend Swamp Dogg, is going through a bit of renaissance thanks to Alive Now Records who continues to re-issue the gonzo soulman’s long out of print albums.  Back in February we told you about the first two Dogg albums (Total Destruction of Your Mind, Rat On!) to get the re-issue treatment.  Next up is Dogg’s 1973 LP Gag A Maggot and Irma Thomas’ Swamp-produced soul classic In Between Tears.  Both albums will be re-issued on vinyl for the first time since their original release with CD versions to include bonus tracks by both artists.  Have a listen to previews of both albums above and below.

MIDWEST RECORD (Chicago-based music site) – Positive SWAMP & IRMA REVIEWS.
IRMA THOMAS/Between the Tears: One of the music businesses headier hard luck and triumph stories, Thomas, (not to be confused with Carla Thomas), the soul queen of Naw-lean had already been chewed up and spit out by Imperial and Chess before hooking up with Swamp Dogg in the early 70s, just as tastes were moving away from the soul classics in waiting she was putting out. While she didn’t scale the heights, her Imperial sides are held up as classics, and her Chess sides took over 20 years to see the light of day when they were finally acknowledged as classics. This record was allowed to escape into the marketplace but in such limited quantities, it might as well be considered a lost soul classic. Sensing this might be her last shot, Thomas tore it up with the ferocity of anything coming out of Detroit or Memphis at the time making the kind of set that should have had Aretha looking over her shoulder. Coming from such a hungry place, this sound here was powered up to be timeless, and even if it isn’t in fashion for today’s R&B, it’s a mind blower anytime you hear it. Killer stuff that just couldn’t be held back any longer. Check it out.

SWAMP DOGG/Gag a Maggot: Swamp Dogg’s debut was a mind blower for any white boy who thought Sly Stone was too commercial. The record label tried to round off some of the edges for the second album by sending him to Muscle Shoals. That wasn’t what he needed. Dogg’s third album found him on his own again, taking it down to TK where things were funkier in the Florida sunshine. The TK crew kept it funky while smoothing out the rough edges, but there was nothing they could do to smooth out the lyrics, and that’s where we find Dogg doing total destruction to your mind once again. Loaded with fat funk that samplers would have to kiss the ground where Dogg walked for a long time to come, this is outsider music done right that just doesn’t fit any format. Crazy stuff then and crazy stuff now. Check it out.

ESQUIRE MAGAZINE (national men’s magazine) – Positive inclusion of Swamp with album art in the “Songs Every Man Should Listen To” online feature.
Songs Every Man Should Listen To
By Andy Langer
“Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe,” Swamp Dogg
Until now, vinyl scavengers places a premium on Total Destruction to Your Mind, this R&B eccentric’s 1970 debut, because it somehow hadn’t made the transition to CD, let alone iTunes. With a belated reissue, it’s as endearing and enduring as advertised, but mostly these paternity-tesy blues are simply hilarious.

WRIR RADIO  (Richmond, VA Community Radio) – New remastered version of “The World Beyond” aired on April 11th.

WESU RADIO  (Middleton, CT station) – New remastered version of “TDTYM” aired on April 4th.

VINYL UNDER REVIEW (online music blog) – Positive album review
Swamp Dogg – Total Destruction to Your Mind / Rat On

Welcome reissues of overlooked ’70’s soul/funk classics

Artist: Swamp Dogg

Record Title: Total Destruction to Your Mind / Rat On

Label: Alive Naturalsound Records (“Total Destruction” – 0141-1) (“Rat On”- 0142-1)

Genre: Soul/Funk/Psyche/Country

Format: LP (black vinyl, 33 RPM)

Release Year: Reissued in 2013; originally released in 1970 (“Total Destruction”) and 1971 (“Rat On”)

Misc.: 250 copies on purple haze vinyl (“Total Destruction”) and 250 copies on Atomic Orange vinyl (“Rat On”); “Total Destruction” also comes in a gatefold sleeve and contains a poster.

“Total Destruction”: Music: A- / Package: B+
“Rat On”: Music: A- / Package B

The best music reissues combine obscurity and quality in equal measure. While I find it almost always interesting to check out reissued albums from long lost, barely known bands, occasionally it can be obvious why these artists slipped through the cracks of music history. Listening to an unearthed record from, say, a ‘60s Scottish psyche band can be a better experience in theory than in reality.

I’ll confess to having known absolutely nothing about Swamp Dogg, the moniker adopted by musician/songwriter/producer, Jerry Williams, Jr, prior to hearing his first two albums, which Alive Naturalsound Records recently reissued. And I’ll admit to initially wondering if these reissues would be another case of novelty trumping substance. Let’s face it, a record cover that features the artist riding on the back of a giant white rat can lead to legitimate concerns about the merit of the music contained within.

Fortunately, both records can – and should — be mentioned alongside the best soul/funk of its era. Recorded in Macon, Georgia and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Swamp Dogg’s distinctly southern take on the genre would have sounded at home on Stax Records. Originally released in 1970, “Total Destruction to Your Mind” comes racing out of the starting gate with the thumping title track before transitioning into the slower, soulful “Synthetic World.” Side A closer “I Was Born Blue” is in a similar vein to the latter track, showing Swamp Dogg to be very capable of heartfelt, expressive vocals. The pulsating side B opener, “Sal-A-Faster,” gains momentum as it gets deeper into its groove – perhaps my favorite song on the album. Displaying diversity in his sound, “These Are Not My People,” written by Joe South, has elements of sunshine pop. The album ends with two lyrically related songs, “The Baby is Mine” and “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe,” both of which deal with the issue of paternity.

1971’s “Rat On,” originally released on Elektra Records, isn’t much of a departure from its predecessor, though the songs are a bit more conventional. If Swamp Dogg’s debut is more original than its follow up, “Rat On” is perhaps slightly more realized. “God Bless America for What” is definitely the most provocative song title on either record, expressing blunt sentiments of protest. Album closer, “Do Our Thing Together,” features excellent horn arrangements and a swagger made for the dance floor. A superb track to wrap up another fantastic album.

Both of these records are full of top notch material, have great recordings and socially conscious lyrics, and even though it’s a thrill to discover this lost music 40+ years after it was released, it’s also a shame that it wasn’t widely appreciated during its time. Jerry Williams, Jr. was already a successful producer/songwriter before Swamp Dogg, but that didn’t translate into mainstream appreciation for his alter-ego. Regardless, it’s encouraging that this music, which is most definitely worthy of being discovered or rediscovered, is readily available again.

The album covers are memorable – the aforementioned artist on ratback (did I just coin a new word?), and “Total Destruction” shows a washed out/overexposed Swamp Dogg, clad in a t-shirt and boxers, sitting on a couch in the back of a garbage truck. My copies are on black vinyl, but limited color pressings (250 copies) of each record exist. “Total Destruction” is a gatefold cover and also comes with a promotional poster. I would say “Rat On” contains no such bells and whistles, but in my opinion the front cover is, if not the bells, certainly the whistles. Liner notes with background information about the artist and records would have been a great addition.

I don’t think of Alive Naturalsound Records as a reissue label (of course, they release far more new music than old), but given how they’ve been instrumental in reintroducing The Nerves, The Plimsouls and now Swamp Dogg to music lovers, it’s clear they have impeccable taste in past sounds that need to be heard by new audiences. We could all use more Swamp Dogg on our stereos, and “Total Destruction to Your Mind” and “Rat On” are guaranteed to make any record collection better.

Wax On


STOMP & STAMMER (Atlanta monthly) – Lengthy feature interview with Swamp & Lee Bains.

They’ve Come to Get Me From the Lost and Found”
Swamp Dogg: Not Just Another Motherfucker
Written by Lee Bains III

Another noontime morning packed into the van. Hacking up, onto the back of the bench seat, all of last night’s cigarettes. Fumbling to get another one lit. Start it again. It is early fall. And early fall loves Athens. Wisps of white smoke carry the smell of slow-cooking pork, just as the trains of black carry their hopes for a victory over Bama to the stadium. Later that night, from a bar in Macon, the rest of the Dexateens will watch as their beloved Bama whips Georgia’s ass in the game that will always be laughingly referred to as “The Blackout.”

For now, we are trying to get right. Shake out the nerves, pinch the sleep out of bleary eyes. Matt Patton, riding shotgun, voice ragged and torn up from a night at the Caledonia, reaches up into the front seat, a CD stuck between his grimy fingers.

“Y’all GOT to hear this…”

And then, seconds later, BOOM. A sonic blast, not so much derived from anything as contrived as tone or volume or tempo, but of sheer human force, true soul. Not “soul,” simply in the Otis Redding sense; no, soul, as in animus, that which differentiates us from the beasts of the field – “soul” in the Thomas Aquinas sense. PURE RAW SOUL.


We are baptized in sound; we are set on a path of righteousness; we are gone.

Swamp Dogg has been doing that, destroying the complacent mind and nurturing the shithead soul, for so long he can do little else. Swamp Dogg, that bold motherfucker (his favorite word) who croons against THE MAN (in all his myriad, snaky forms) with the voice of a pissed-off Joe Tex, an unhinged Clyde McPhatter, is also Jerry Williams, Jr., the humble, rotund son of Portsmouth, Virginia who wrote songs for the always-sweatered pop star Gene Pitney [“Count the Days”] and the roughneck country twanger Johnny Paycheck [“(Don’t Take Her) She’s All I Got”].

Hell yeah, he knew Gary U.S. Bonds. (They were best friends from running around the Tidewater.) Hell yeah, he knew Otis Redding. (Ol’ dude left him holding the bill at a Holiday Inn once.) Hell yeah, he knew Duane Allman. (Swamp had him play on a Doris Duke session he produced.)

But, just as importantly, they knew Swamp: a songwriter’s songwriter, a musical adventurer, a shit-hot hit producer, an immutable force of honesty, the perpetual menace to THE MAN’s agenda who nevertheless kept a constant place at the boardroom table.

A few years later, I find myself in that same van, with that same can’t-get-right feeling, scraggling into Detroit. My new band The Glory Fires has been commissioned by Alive! Natural-Sound Records to cut a single, a cover song, with Jim Diamond. We’re struggling. We were frozen in Toronto, and hassled at the border. And then, as if it has been encased in a glass box, a tiny hammer suspended at its side, I pull out Total Destruction to Your Mind. Within moments, blood is rushing, talk is resumed, synapses fire like sparkplugs. We’re back.

Patrick, who runs Alive and talks to me like an exasperated teacher does his favorite underachieving student, had never heard of Swamp Dogg until he heard our cover. Shortly thereafter (again, moments is all it takes for most of us), Patrick had uncovered a genius. He is reissuing two of Swamp’s most innovative and inspired albums (Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On!), along with a handful of similarly brain-warping soul records he produced in the Seventies (Raw Spitt, Wolfmoon, and Irma Thomas).

If you’re one of the uninitiated (and let’s face it; you probably are), then unplug your earholes, and listen to what Swamp has to say. You might can afford not to, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Swamp Dogg: “I saw your YouTube the first time you played [‘Total Destruction to Your Mind’] after you put it out. You did the song, and you said, I think it was you, you said, ‘Some motherfucker calls himself Swamp Dogg…’ And played the song any goddamn way! And I thought, ‘I’m going to reach through the screen and choke him!’”

Lee Bains III: Hahaha!

“Naw, I appreciate you. I appreciate you even acknowledging my song, much more cutting the motherfucker. I really do appreciate it. I thank you.”

Aw man, I appreciate you. I’m a really big fan of you and your songs, and you’ve been a real inspiration. So anything I can do to even slightly repay you is no thing.

“Naw, you paid me good by doing the song, by making people aware. People always talk about how good a song it is, but nobody records it much. It’s only been recorded five times, I think. I can only name three times, and one of those is me. Now, you is four. I can’t remember what the fifth one is.”

Well, I’m a (relatively) young dude from Alabama who makes what I think of as Southern music. And part of the reason I love your music and am inspired by it is that you seem to continually honor and draw from Southern traditions, but just as much so, you subvert them, and challenge them. So, I want to ask you about how you came by those traditions. I know your folks were musicians, right?

“Yeah, my mother is a drummer, a keyboardist and a vocalist, and as a matter of fact she opens my show for me. She’s 91-years old.”

What kind of music were they doing when you were growing up?

“They were what you would call a lounge band – a cocktail band. The same thing you’d call a Top 40 now. All they did was sing all of the hits of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. It was a quartet: guitar, bass, drums and organ, usually. So that’s what they did; they worked all the time. But it was always clubs, and they didn’t make a name.”

Did you grow up exposed to music in church? Was that part of your background?

“Part of it. Because I was Baptist for a minute, and then I became Catholic. But, you know, it’s hard to get inspired with Gregorian chants! That don’t make you want to jump up and do the do.”

Hahaha! Yeah, I grew up partly in the Episcopal church. They call it Junior-Varsity Catholic. I know what you mean.

“Yeah! But I got a lot of things out of church. Because those were my first experiences standing in front of an audience and singing. That is what quelled my nervousness. You had people encouraging you. You’d be singing, and it’d be the WORST thing that everybody had heard, and they’d say, ‘Awwwwww, Jerry, you were soooo good.’ And they’d come by the house, and tell your Mama, ‘Awww, he was sooo good!’ When you were off-the-scale being bad! But those were the things that gave you encouragement, that those people in church would lie like a motherfucker. But that was a time when you needed lying. Because the truth would’ve killed you! It would’ve stopped you in your tracks. And then, as you continue to grow, you look back, and say, ‘My God, was I awful.’ But you appreciate the people for doing the way they did to you. You got to keep that ego away from you. I meet some guys now, professionals, saying shit like, ‘Aw man, I killed ’em out there. I slayed ’em. Can’t nobody follow me.’ And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘This motherfucker is so mediocre, and he don’t even know it.’ I’ve never said no shit like that, and I never will say shit like that.”

And you dug on country music, too, right?

“Most of what I got came from country. I remember the first two talent shows I was on as a kid in grammar school; the first one, I sang ‘Peace In The Valley’ by Red Foley, and I came in at Number Two. And the second one, I sang ‘Hadacol Boogie’ by Bill somebody. I can’t remember. [Bill Nettles, a Louisiana rockabilly/country singer active in the ‘40s/‘50s.] I came in first that show. I was raised up on country. The black music came on around nine or ten at night, and, by that time, I had to go to bed. I had a little radio in my room. I used to turn it on, but the whole family was hip to what I was doing. So, it wouldn’t be long before somebody came up there: ‘Turn that damn radio off!’ I’d have it on so low, you could hardly hear. That was my exposure to some black music. And then John R. and them out of Nashville.”

You know, it’s funny you say that. My mama grew up in Birmingham, and would talk about how, growing up, she would hide under the covers and listen to the R&B station at night, and how that, along with seeing black bands play in the early and mid ’60s, was a big factor in her realization of the deep problems with segregation and Alabama’s racial attitudes. Did you feel like being a musician allowed you to transcend racial boundaries at all during that time?

“It’s funny. For some reason, I didn’t really have a full knowledge of what was being done. I was raised like, if a white man was walking down the sidewalk, and you were going towards him, then I don’t give a fuck if it was an Indy 500 driver coming around the corner, a black stepped off into the street and let the white man go by. And you know this is crazy; I didn’t think nothing of it. It’s hard sometimes when you’re brought up into something, and you’re told ‘this is what you do’ by the people who you love and trust. ‘Well, okay, I don’t know. I guess I’d better step off this fucking sidewalk.’ You know, ‘You never stare a white man in the eye.’ A whole bunch of bullshit. But, as I grew older, I understood the bigotry and all that bullshit.

“I worked in a pharmacy called Washington Pharmacy, and I was a delivery boy. A lot of times, I worked behind the counter. They would make the black women customers wait there at one table sitting in the back. The black men had to wait out in the hallway to wait on their shit. If you were gonna make a sundae for a black person, you didn’t use quite as much ice cream as you were supposed to for a white person. A buddy of mine that I was working with, when the black people would come in, and ask for a soda, he would go in the back and make the sodas. Well, for some reason, the people who owned the drugstore didn’t care that we were getting it from the back. Actually, every time we would bring the ice to the front, and pour it in the receptacle, we’d done pissed in the ice. We’d piss in the ice, and then we’d bring it up, and people would be, ‘Awww God, you make a good Coke!’”


“And we’d done pissed in the ice! The first couple times I saw my friend doing it I said, ‘Man, what the fuck are you doing??’ But he’d piss in it, and then take it up front. So we’d make all our sodas in the back. You should’ve seen the restrooms. The one for black people had ‘Colored’ on the door, and that’s where we kept the mop and the buckets and all that shit. And the bathroom for whites looked like it was built by King Tut. It was laid like a motherfucker. They would have us in the prescription room, and we used to put the short count on white people. That was our way of getting back. Let’s say if your prescription was 50 pills, we’d put in 47.”

It was y’all’s small act of rebellion.

“Yeah, some of those people used to call up, ‘Hey, goddammit, you shorted me three pills.’ So I’d have to hop on the bicycle and ride on down there and take them people their motherfucking pills. But it didn’t really get that bad down there, mainly because of all the military installations, Navy and Army. We didn’t do like Mississippi or Alabama and call ourselves the Sovereign State. I remember my man – Governor Wallace – declared Alabama another country. You’re gonna need a passport to get in his shit. Crazy motherfucker.”

Yeah, absolutely crazy.

“But, I’ll tell you, I admired him for one thing…”

What’s that? What could you possibly admire George Wallace for?

“For running with his beliefs. I mean, we knew he was wrong, but here’s a motherfucker that really thought he was right. And he took it as far as he could – as far as people would allow him to take it… That’s all. I admire him for being a motherfucker who would stick. If he had been a musician, I believe he would’ve been one of the top musicians in the world. Mainly because he would’ve laid with it. He didn’t want blacks doing their damn thing in Alabama aside from working and being second-class. I mean, that’s more of a left-handed compliment. I mean, naw, I don’t have no damn admiration for George Wallace.”

Well that’s amazing. It’s a testament to your open-mindedness and observations that you could see it at all from that perspective. Did you feel like playing music opened any of that up? I know you said you listened to country music, but did playing music break those racial boundaries down a little bit?

“I noticed all over the country that, whatever kind of musician it was, whatever genre he was into, if you walked in as a black guy and wanted to sit in, you never had a problem sitting in. The club owner might come up and raise hell, saying, ‘Y’all gotta get that nigger out of here.’ But the musicians really didn’t care. And it’s always been like that. As long as you can make some good music, then come on! I wish sometimes – of course we’d more than likely be starving to death – that the world would have the attitude of musicians. We’ll live together. One musician never meets another musician that’s a stranger. And we’ll meet a lot of other strangers in other walks of life. But you never meet a stranger who is also a musician.

You know, there’s definitely a humility I’ve noticed in your songwriting that I think is interesting, because your music tends to deal with calling out what is wrong with the world. Whether that’s the government’s treatment of black people, or the growth of consumerism and globalism, or the way one man mistreats his family. But you address it all with enough humility and honesty to keep them thought provoking rather than pompous. What inspires you to talk about these things? Do you feel like, as a songwriter, you have a responsibility to the world to talk about these things?

“Naw. Just like I’m talking to you right now, I’m just saying what I believe. These are my opinions. A lot of things are observations – that are really happening, or have really happened. Like, I keep referencing that line in ‘Total Destruction’: ‘They find out how to tax the grass/ Now watch them get the law passed.’ And that’s what they’ve done! Let me tell you something, man. You can do anything in the United States you want to do as long as you let Uncle Sam be your partner. I mean, you can run drugs… Just let him be your partner. That’s all he wants.”

That’s the truth… So how can you address these heavy questions, and give these insights, but then humbly say, “I don’t claim to know the answers here”? How do you avoid preaching?

“I guess that’s just not my personality. If you say, ‘Hey man, Lee Bains is going to do this,’ and I don’t believe in it at all, just because I don’t believe in it, does not mean that you’re wrong. So, I’ll give you the encouragement to follow your mind, and do it. It’s just like bungee jumping. I wouldn’t do it. But if you feel you should do it, then do it! And I don’t care what you do in life, somebody could get hurt. You could be home in your bed, and a motherfucker could break in and hurt you. So, there’s no such thing as staying completely away from danger and negativity. So, that’s the way I write: ‘This is what I think.’ But, you know, if you don’t go along with it, that’s cool. I was onstage one night, and I was talking about Nixon. And some motherfucker way in the back screamed up there – and it was the first time and the last time – and he was pro-Nixon. Well, you know what, I said, ‘Hey man, I’m just telling you how I feel. I ain’t getting in no argument with you. You may very well be right.’ And I didn’t hear no more. But I didn’t say nothing else about Nixon, either, that night. And that’s when I was doing ‘Sam Stone.’ And I knew exactly what I was singing about. That song caused a lot of controversy. John Prine wrote the dogshit out of that song. And that’s another thing. I will give recognition to any songwriter I think is great. Any songwriter whose song you hear me sing I feel they are a better writer than I am. I’m singing a song that I wish I had written. ‘Well, since I didn’t write it, goddammit, I’m going to sing it!’”

Well, now you know why I recorded your song! And I wanted to talk some about how, on Total Destruction to Your Mind, you covered two Joe South songs.

“I love me some Joe South! For some reason, he disappeared. I think he may have died.”

He sure did. He passed away recently, unfortunately.

“A writing motherfucker.”

Well, y’all remind me of each other.

“You know, he opened a hell of a door for me: to be able to use the word ‘nigger’ in my songs. Because every time I’d say ‘nigger,’ most of the complaints would come from white people in Cadillacs. Bleeding hearts and shit. And I said, ‘Hey! Joe South wrote that song! ‘Niggers, dagos and Jews.’ Before I ever said ‘nigger,’ I HEARD ‘nigger.’”

Yeah, you didn’t invent that word!

“No! I didn’t wake up one morning, and say, ‘Hey! Nigger!’ But I have been awakened by ‘Hey, nigger!’ So… shit!”

It’s interesting because both “Rednecks” and “These Are Not My People” seem to speak to an experience of being a stranger in your own country, and observing others. In one song, it’s racist, obnoxious assholes, and in the other one it’s bougie hipsters putting on airs.


And in spite of trying to reconcile yourself to them, you just can’t do it. How did you relate to those songs personally?

“Mostly traveling around the country. Like, in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1965, I got arrested. The cops beat me up and shit. They broke in my room. I was staying in a hotel called the Alibi, of all places. They broke in my room, guns drawn, threw me down on the bed, and handcuffed me and shit. I’m asking, ‘What did I do?’ But I also knew not to ask a lot of shit, and not to say a lot of shit. Because them fucking guys was ready to just do anything to me. Because they wouldn’t tell me why I was being arrested. When I got down there, they put me in the cell and whooped my ass, all bloody. They whooped my ass after they put me in a lineup. It’s like Richard Pryor said, ‘Boy, if you ever get put in that lineup, and get picked, it’s your ass.’ See, what I was accused of was being somebody named ‘Little Joe.’ And I had beat up an old white man and wife in a trailer park, and took their money, right?”

Holy shit! And you’d been playing a show or whatever… not even in Charlotte probably!

“Yeah! The only way I was able to prove it wasn’t me is that I just happened to be in jail in Macon, Georgia!

Do what!? Are you serious?

“Yeah! I was supposed to start opening for Otis Redding. He was supposed to pay my hotel bill, but he left. So, I skipped out of the hotel, the Holiday Inn. They called the police. I’m just walking down the street, back to Otis’s office, the Redwall building [Redding and then-manager Phil Walden’s business HQ]. Otis is gone, and I tell Phil Walden, and he says, ‘Man, I don’t have nothing to do with what you and Otis did.’ He didn’t give me the money. I must have owed every bit of $70. I’d been there about two or three days. Anyway, that was the proof. And when the guys let me out of jail, as they were walking me down the steps, they told me, ‘Don’t let us catch you around here no fucking more.’ And I wanted to say, ‘I ain’t done a goddam thing!!’ But I said, ‘Yessir.’”


“Then I go over to the radio station who had brought me in there, WGIV, and they had this lady disc jockey. She was the heaviest thing down there. Big-headed bitch. Looked like she had a big old watermelon on her neck. And that bitch had the NERVE when I walked into the studio… She had stopped playing my record those couple of three days I was MIA. And she said, ‘I’m canceling the show.’ I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Oh, you’re the worst thing ever happened to Charlotte… I’ve never been so embarrassed in all my life. And I’m canceling the show.’ I said, ‘You big-headed bitch, I don’t give a fuck! You’re gonna give me my money!’ I think I was making about a hundred and a quarter a night. Long story short, I did the show, I made my money, and she quit playing my record. And I had a little thing called ‘Baby, You’re My Everything’ that, if it wasn’t number one, was top-five most places. And she was calling up the record company, telling them what happened, what I did. But it just so happened I was working for a record label owned by gangsters, so they didn’t give a shit. Fucking motherfuckers up was their hobby!”

Is it right that you moved from Portsmouth up to Philadelphia and New York?

“Well, first I moved to Newark, New Jersey. Because I was afraid to go to New York. I would catch the bus to the Port Authority in New York. I would get off, walk about five or six blocks up the street. And they had a place that sold a good Polish dog. And I’d buy a Polish dog, and I’d look through the windows and shit, and then I’d go back, and get on the bus, and go back to Newark! I was afraid to go past that! So, finally, I got involved with a promoter that got me into the middle of things up there. But, no, in ’66, I moved to Miami. I went down there to play a show. I had just closed the Christmas show at the Apollo, starring Solomon Burke. And I did ten days, five to six shows a day.

A day?!

“Yeah! For 300 motherfucking dollars. But, if you hadn’t played the Apollo, you hadn’t done shit! It was almost worth paying the motherfuckers that owned the Apollo to play there. Because motherfuckers would say, ‘Oh, you were at the Apollo?!’ Yeah, but they don’t know you were the worst thing on the bill! They just know you were at the Apollo. But when the plane started to land [in Miami], all these niggas out there with short-sleeved shirts with big old flowers all over them, and fucking straw Panama hats and shit. I said, ‘Where the fuck is this?? I hope the plane didn’t crash, and I’m dead!’ I got off the plane; it must have been 85 or 90 degrees. I said, ‘Baby, I ain’t going back there. You get the kids together, and you’re coming to Miami. Motherfuck Portsmouth!’”


“So, I got to Miami, and I worked, and I made a little money. I was a celebrity. And then my next record came out, and it didn’t sell. Due to the fact it didn’t sell, now I’m working with a motherfucker named Wild Man Steve. He was a disc jockey from Boston. We were on a gig one night, this band called the Magnolias out of Atlanta, and me. We go on out to play a banquet room at like a Holiday Inn. And we’re getting off the bus, and he says, ‘Look here, you guys are the Four Tops!’”


“I said, ‘What!?’ I said, ‘Well, fuck it. I need my money.’ But now here’s the funny part. I’m supposed to be Levi [Stubbs], right? Here I am 5’5”, and Levi’s seven foot tall. And I’m out there singing. I knew the songs. The whole audience was white. And I look over to the left, and there’s a black guy leaning against the wall. And he’s got his jacket over his arm, and he kept looking up there. And I told Calvin – the leader of the group – I said, ‘Calvin, we got a problem with this motherfucker over there. He just told somebody, ‘That ain’t the Four Tops.’’ And all a sudden, hell breaks loose in there. We take off, running like a son of a bitch. We get to the bus, and that motherfucker Steve’s got the money, got the bus, and taking off ahead of us. Anyway, we caught up with him. He stopped the bus, and we got on. We never did get paid, because he said he left without the money. We never did believe him, but anyway… As I think about it at this moment, he might have been the one that spread the word we weren’t the motherfucking Four Tops.

“So I ended up working at a car lot. And my job was to be there every morning at 4:30, and to wipe the dew off the cars so they would shine. He called himself the biggest car dealer in Miami. I think he might have been bigger than he said he was. I’ve never seen so many cars in my life! So I found another job. I didn’t stay at no job over a week. The only reason I was working was my wife was sick. So as soon as she got well, I was like, ‘Fuck it; I’m off again!’ But I worked at a place where all they did was make boxes. All I was supposed to do was take this special hammer and hit the motherfuckers on the edges, and those little perforated pieces of cardboard would come off. So that was my job, to knock that off. They had me doing it, and I said, ‘Shit, this is one smooth motherfucking job, here.’ You know I Love Lucy, where she’s working on the conveyor belt?”

Yeah, and she’s eating the chocolates or whatever?

“Yeah! Well, them boxes started coming down twelve of them at a time. And you got to hit them all just right and just hard enough… And I had boxes and shit all over the floor. Because all these motherfuckers had to stop their jobs and come help me. And motherfucker asks me, ‘Can you drive a forklift?’ I couldn’t even drive a car! He says, ‘Can you drive a forklift?’ I said, ‘Yeah man!’ So that motherfucker put me on that forklift. And I picked up a big ol’ pack…or a box…you know, you stick the prongs in the…uh…”

The pallet?

“Yeah, the pallet! And, man, I raised that motherfucker up, and my boss must’ve seen something right away. He knew I hadn’t ever driven one of those motherfuckers. And he jumped right up on that son of a bitch, and pushed me to the side, because I was getting ready to drop boxes on everybody. So he told me, ‘Man, we can’t use you.’ And I said, ‘Man, I need this job.’ So then what he did was put me on the midnight shift, which was real slow. There were some places I worked for such a short time that I didn’t even get my check. Like down at the Norfolk Community Hospital?”

Uh huh?

“Them motherfuckers still owe me thirty-something dollars. They made it sound pretty good. ‘You’re gonna be on landscaping.’ They put me out there, pulling up grass by hand where the lawnmower couldn’t get it. Here’s the thing. There was a bus stop where I was working. And seemed like every motherfucker on the bus knew me. And when the bus would stop in the morning… ‘Jerry! I thought you was in New York! Ain’t you a star?! Sitting there picking grass!’ Laughing and shit. Three days later, I was gone.”

That’ll keep that ego in check, won’t it?

“Hell yeah! But, so from Miami, I moved to Queens, New York, and then to Hempstead, Long Island, and then out here to Northridge [California].”

You were producing records up in New York for Atlantic, right?


And then you decided to undergo the name change to Swamp Dogg. Did you just come up with doing Total Destruction in Macon? Was that your idea?

“Yeah, it was my idea. I was sick of Atlantic. It was a whole political reason I was there, and I didn’t even know it… When they called me upstairs to let me go at Atlantic, I had been trying to leave there for about six months, and they wouldn’t let me go. And it wasn’t because I was all that good, it was because the NAACP and the Fair Play Committee was all over the motherfucker for not having a black staff producer. There were plenty of blacks out there in the field producing music, but they did not have one in-house. So when I came along, I thought they hired me because I had my shit together. But they hired me strictly for political reasons. That’s the reason they didn’t want to let me go. Me and Gary Bonds went down to Miami, and spent a ton of money – for that time – we must’ve spent maybe 10 or 12 grand cutting a couple singles…

Hell, that’s a lot of money now, so I know it was then…

“Yeah, so we were at the Sheraton. Had a convertible Cadillac, and a convertible Lincoln Continental. Throwing parties at the studio. We got back, the comptroller said ‘Man, fuck all this.’ So they gave me my severance check. Which was more money than I’d had at one time since I’d been at Atlantic. I think I was making $600 a week. And they gave me a severance check for like $2,400, and some other little monies that had accumulated…”

So you were doing pretty good.

Yeah. So, I took that money, and went home. I told my wife, ‘Look, I’m going to produce my own shit. I can’t be controlled that tight.’ I can be controlled, but I got to have respect for what the fuck you’re saying.”

Sure, yeah, I’m the same way.

“I called Phil Walden and made a deal. I said, ‘You supply the studio and the musicians, and I’ll do the talent and the productions. And, after the studio costs, we’ll split the money 75/25,’ with him getting 25. ’Cause I knew he was gonna jack the studio up any motherfucking way. And we split all the publishing 50/50. And he said, ‘Fine.’”

After living all over the East Coast, moving back and forth in the music business, you’re back in Macon where you had been arrested just a few years prior. Did you have a sense of unease, since you’d been away from the Deep South for a few years?

“Naw. It was … [pause] … Let me tell you … I like the South. It just is not… naw, I ain’t going to say that … [pause] … About three years ago, I had bought a house – or was going to buy a house – in Huntsville, Alabama. I was going to go down there, and revamp my shit. And get people into the Southern soul music, and work out of there. But it didn’t work out. I haven’t ever been reluctant to go to the South. As a matter of fact, I ran into a Ku Klux Klan parade in Montgomery, Alabama. We were coming out of Florida. We had Florida license plates. I think that helped us. And the KKK was out there practicing or doing some shit. We had to stop while they went by. And they looked at us, looked at the car. And they ain’t fuck with us. And for some reason, I didn’t get nervous. I’ll tell you, when I get in situations, I get nervous. I have anxiety attacks, all kinds of silly shit. I fear flying, but I do it all the time. Once I get on, and it takes off, I say my prayer, I carry my ass asleep, and I say, ‘What the fuck? If this is it, this is it.’ It’s the same thing I say with the Ku Klux Klan. I said, ‘Well, they’re either gonna leave us alone, or fuck us up. And we can’t stop them. There’s only two of us.’ And they didn’t fuck with us… [pause] … It’s just that a lot of shit that bothers other people doesn’t bother me. Because I know, at the end of the day, I have to complete my mission. I’m willing to give, help, be involved. But I still got my mission which is – was at the time – my family. So, whatever it took for me to take care of my family, that’s what I did. If I had to take a lot of racial bullshit… Hey, man, wasn’t nobody more racist than Phil Walden!”

Is that right?

“Fuck yeah. I mean, shit, as soon as Otis died, that name ‘Redwall’ came off the building, and everything became ‘Walden Enterprises.’”

But I guess you were still cool enough with him to record there in Macon?

“Yeah! I mean, I guess if I’d been treated any other way in the South, I would’ve been suspicious. I would’ve said, ‘These motherfuckers got something waiting for me up the road.’ And you also know in the South… or you knew at that time… who didn’t like you. So, you know who to avoid, who to stay away from.”

I remember reading Malcolm X saying in the ’60s that he preferred dealing with Southern white people to Northern white people, because with Southern white people, you knew where you stood.

“Yeah. See, whites on the West Coast and the East Coast would stick a knife in your back. Where, most of the Southern bigots would tell you right away, ‘Nigger, I don’t like you.’ ‘Well, cool. I’m gone. Fuck it.’ But, I’ll tell you, while I was in Muscle Shoals, Alabama…There was a white man by the name of Howard Roberts, and he came by the studio two or three times. He was driving an old Toronado, and he was smoking a cigar. This old beat-up car. Looked like he’d have to scrape mud off of it before he could drive it. And I said to David [Johnson, then owner of Broadway Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama], ‘David, who is this motherfucker that keeps coming in here?’ He’d be watching, saying things like, ‘Hey Swamp Dogg, I love your singing. I love your this, I love your that.’ David said, ‘One of the richest men in the state of Alabama.’ I said, ‘No shit.’ He had built some big bridge, and all that kinda shit. He was a pilot in World War Something. He owned zillions of dollars, alright? He bought me a Cherokee Six airplane. He bought me a houseboat that I used to live on when I was down there. He bought me a house, but I never did move down there in it. And it was in an all-white neighborhood. The church he went to was all-white. He took my wife and I one Sunday. Big old church. They sat us in the front pew, and the pastor announced who we were, had us to stand up. People applauded. I said, ‘How come there ain’t more niggas in this motherfucker?’ He said, ‘You’re a different type of nigger. We love you… The niggers down here ain’t worth shit.’ And I said, ‘Well, shit, that’s his opinion.’ I don’t agree with him, but I was making money, and getting money out of that motherfucker. I was getting everything out of that motherfucker. We were doing it. I had a banker down there who would cash newspaper! You just had to tear off the top – the circulation – and however much the circulation was, that’s how much money he’d give you. Just sign the newspaper!”

I want to ask you about recording in Macon. There was a record that came out around the same time. It’s a different sounding record, but it’s Johnny Jenkins’ Ton-Ton Macoute. Y’all are very different singers and songwriters. But the ways the albums were approached are similar to me in that there’s a liberated sense of playing with different styles and genres. They’re both almost like singer-songwriter albums more than traditional soul or R&B records. Did you run into him or any of the Allman Brothers while you were down there?

“Yeah! Yeah, as a matter of fact, Duane played guitar on three cuts on Doris Duke’s album. Rhino-Warner has a seven-CD set coming out on Duane, and they use one of my songs –  “Ghost of Myself” by Doris Duke. Yeah, Duane and them came in off the road in the morning, and he didn’t feel like going to bed. He was wide open. So he came by the studio, and he walked in, and he said, ‘Swamp Dogg, now, you mind if I sit in?’ I said, ‘Fuck no!’ He sat down and started playing. I said, ‘Let him play what he wants to. That’s Duane Allman. Whatever he plays is gonna be good.’ And Johnny Jenkins, I met once. But, Martin Mull, he was down there. Remember, he was making records?”


“A lot of people I would run into down there. They’d come to the studio, because there wasn’t nowhere else to go! Not unless you left town.”

Charlie Daniels’s first record has a song called “The Pope and the Dope,” and it includes these lines:

What if Eldridge Cleaver was to devise a plan,
For the Black Panther Party of America to be merged with the Ku Klux Klan,
And if Richard Nixon made Spiro Agnew
the new ambassador to Timbuktu?
If he was to do it well, do you guess
It’d improve his relationship with CBS?

And then you have these lines in “Do You Believe?”

Do you believe in integration?
in liberation?
sex relations?
Do you believe in the NAACP
or the Ku Klux Klan?
in the Panther Party
or in Uncle Sam?

In both of those songs, it seems like you and Charlie Daniels are addressing some of the same partisanship and division that was present in the country and the world at that time. And, instead of taking sides, you’re asking questions.


It’s particularly interesting, because y’all are two guys from the same generation, but from different parts of the South; he’s white, and you’re black; he comes from a country-music background, and you came up playing Rhythm & Blues. But y’all seem to be getting at a similar thing. Did you feel that kinship at the time?

“Let me tell you. I LOVE what you just read, but I’ve never heard it before. And I dig me some Charlie Daniels. I love me some Charlie Daniels.”

Do you think there was something about growing up in the South when y’all did that shaped the way you perceived the world? That made you ask questions rather than make declarations? I mean, this was the era of protest music – when people were saying, “This is the way it is, and this is the way it should be.” And you always had a more nuanced way of inquiring…

“Yeah, because when you walk into a situation, when you open a door and walk in, you see something, but you don’t really know what you’re looking at until somebody explains it to you. So, I had questions first. You walk by somewhere, and there’s a car accident, and a guy laid out there dead. You don’t right away say, ‘Oh yeah, he always drove too fucking fast. No wonder he’s dead.’ Only to find out that a motherfucker was drunk with a truck, and hit him as he was crossing the street at normal speed. Do you get the parallel?”

Yeah, I do. So do you feel like there’s something about growing up in the South that made you more quick to see other people’s side?

“Yeah. And growing up in a family that had picked cotton… My great-great-great-grandmother – I knew her – she was 102 when she died, and she had definitely been a slave. And almost everybody else but my Mama had been through that slavery thing. The kind of pride they had was like, ‘I pay all my bills. I go to the place and pay my bills. I don’t want no white man coming to my house.’ I mean, a bunch of white people came by for one reason or another. And they weren’t treated cruelly; it’s just that the black people were standoffish. They didn’t trust white people. And I’d hear all of this talk. They told me, ‘Don’t you ever, don’t you EVER fuck with no white women. They’ll get you hung, they’ll get you hung like a black motherfucker.’ Like, I got a friend down in Nashville, and he and his wife are so good and cool with me. And sometimes she’ll say, ‘Come on, Swamp. I’m going shopping.’ And I’ll be in the grocery store with her or something, and I still feel a little uneasy because I don’t want nobody to think it’s my wife. And their last name happens to be Williams, also. But she and her husband are so motherfucking cool.”

Your song “Synthetic World” includes the lines:

Hey you, I’m up from the bayou,
Where wildlife runs free,
You could say that I’m country.
But let me tell you what I see.

Your world is plastic.
Can see through to the otherside.
Your cities are made of wood,
Antiques are what you’ve got inside.
Houses are paper but folks don’t hear a word you say.
Friendship’s like acid it burns as it slides away.

So you see, my patience is growin’ thin.
With this synthetic world we’re livin’ in.

And then there’s Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “All I Can Do Is Write About It”:

Do you like to see a mountain stream a-flowin’?
Do you like to see a youngin’ with his dog
Did you ever stop to think about, well, the air your breathin’?
Well, you better listen to my song
And, Lord, I can’t make these changes
All I can do is write ’em in a song
I can see the concrete slowly creepin’
Lord, take me and mine before that comes.

It seems like you and some of these other bands were able to take your Southern, somewhat rural background as a weapon against an impending threat. And I don’t know if that threat is consumerism, or industrialization or what. How did you see that threat in “Synthetic World”?

“It narrows down to honesty, fairness and truth. And those were the three things that had been swept under the fucking rug. And nothing was going to happen until we pulled that rug up, and put that shit that we’d done swept under it in the trash.”

And you go on to say, (and I love these lines):

Now I find I’m out of place
If I only have one face.
All my friends have more than two
No longer must you be you.

With the way that the Internet and social media allow anybody to create their own identity out of thin air, this song could take on many more levels of meaning. Do you think that the sentiments of this song are relevant today?

“You know, I never thought of that. Yes, I do. I mean, it’s still like that. It’s still phony. I think lying is at the top of list – that lying takes on other aspects just as bad as lies. I mean, we can’t believe anything the government tells us. Not a damn thing. The reasons we’re at war, the reasons the gas is so high. I mean, I don’t understand it. And they don’t mean for me to understand it. And when I say, ‘I,’ I’m speaking for nearly every non-political citizen of the United States. We don’t know what the fuck is going on. We can’t figure this shit out. That’s because we don’t have the information, and we’re not gonna get the information. You know, 40 years from now, somebody will present some paperwork and open it up to the public. But, shit, at that time, something else will be going on.”

You talk a lot about honesty, and something that I hear a lot in your songs is a plea for honesty. You have a very honest tone in your songwriting. But I’ve read in an interview that part of the reason you decided to change your recording name to Swamp Dogg was that you wanted to say things that Jerry Williams wouldn’t be comfortable saying.


Do you think that, as an artist, taking on a persona can actually inspire honesty?



“I think you either feel, think or act in an honest way, or you don’t. I mean, you can call yourself ‘Jesus Christ,’ and, if you a dirty motherfucker, you’re still a dirty motherfucker. I didn’t become Swamp Dogg for honesty or any of that shit. There were things that I wanted to do, and ‘Jerry Williams’ is a soft name. If you try to scream the name: ‘JERRY WILLIAMS!’ It diminishes on your ass. By the time you get to the end of Jerry. The only way you can make it happen is with a hell of a soundsystem. ‘Swamp Dogg?!’ Boy, you can say that so loud! It screams! It screams out of your mouth.”

As a man, Jerry Williams, you’re a friendly, considerate, humble kind of dude. And, I’m wondering if, in some way, being Swamp Dogg makes you feel a little bolder.

“Yeah, it does. I go from Clark Kent to Superman. And, then after a while, I got to go back to Clark.”

Has there ever been a time when Swamp Dogg was in danger of creeping in on your real life as Jerry Williams?

“Oh yeah. I started getting a big head. I was being not as nice to my wife as I should have been. I mean I never hit her or nothing like that. Well, I did. I slapped her one time, and she balled up her first like she was Mike Tyson, and hit me in my fucking face. Hurt like a sonofabitch! I said, ‘Fuck this! I ain’t fighting this woman!’ That took away all that chastising shit I was going to do. Anyway, it did seep into my life. I became something in my mind that I really was not. This new identity did interfere with the real Jerry Williams. Because Jerry Williams was the husband, the family man, the provider, the motherfucker with some level thinking, the motherfucker who would listen. Swamp Dogg ain’t listening to nobody about shit! I could see myself becoming that, and couldn’t stop myself. I mean, at one point, I had nine fucking automobiles. All kinds of luxury automobiles. Rolls Royces, Lincoln Continentals, Eldorado Cadillacs. I don’t need all that shit! I can’t even drive all that well. It’s funny now, but I developed a phobia, about 1980, where I’m afraid to drive on the freeway! Ain’t that a bitch!”


“Aw man, I thought I was everything that I wasn’t! My wife helped me find myself. But in order to find myself, I had lost myself to the point that my wife had to send out a search party. Who turned out to be a Dr. Tanner who was in the Who’s Who of Psychiatry. He helped me find myself, and then it was up to me to keep a tight grip on myself. Now, I keep a tight grip on myself. Over time, you find out that you’re just another motherfucker!”

THE RECORD CHANGER (online music blog) – Positive album review

There’s something about the sound of southern soul records that suggests a pool room on a Saturday night, and a Baptist church on Sunday morning. The best southern soul artists can take you to both places on the same record – sometimes in the same song. Southern soul records sound a little rougher and not as sophisticated as the records that come out of the metropolitan areas up north. There’s usually a distinctive guitar that plays stinging licks, a deep-fried organ, horns that testify, and a rhythm section that could keep perfect time in the middle of a hurricane. The lyrics touch all the bases – politics, the economy, substance abuse, Jesus, sin, sex – just about anything that touches the lives of everyday people. The records coming out of labels like Atlantic, Stax, Hi, Excello, Malaco and several others all had that sound in common. Artists like O.V. Wright, Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, James Carr, Otis Clay and others made the kinds of records I’m talking about. Those records sound as good today as they did when they were brand new.
That’s why the reissues of Swamp Dogg’s 1970 Total Destruction To Your Mind and 1971’s Rat On! albums by Alive-Natural Sound are cause for celebration. Swamp Dogg is Jerry Williams – one of the most talented singers, songwriters, and producers of his generation. Born 70 years ago in Portsmouth, Virginia, Williams has been making music professionally since the age of 12. He’s never really had a hit under his own name, but writing hits for others like Johnny Paycheck and Gene Pitney kept him going. Anyone can tell you, though, that you don’t hang around for six decades in any business unless you’ve got talent to burn.
Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! are textbook examples of genuine southern soul. They’re records that sound familiar the first time you hear them. And they never age. They’re the kinds of records you don’t bother to file because you’re playing them all the time. In this age of lies, somebody’s got to tell the truth. And the truth is as close as your turntable. Swamp Dogg is back. Everything gonna be alright.
Available from Alive-Natural Sound Records at in vinyl or compact disc formats. Also, check out this interview with Swamp Dogg at Aquarium Drunkard and keep an eye open for more Swamp Dogg coming soon from Alive.

ROLLING STONE (Spanish version of the magazine) – Rat On! Featured in their worst album covers in history.
The worst album covers in history
Swamp Dogg, Rat on! This could be the first cover-hieroglyphic history: rat + on.

WMLB RADIO  (Atlanta radio station) – New remastered versions of “I Was Born Blue,” “Do You Believe,” and “Do Our Thing Together” on April 6th on The Stomp & Stammer Radio Hour.

WMBR RADIO  (Cambridge, MA  college station) – New remastered version of “TDTYM” aired on April 3rd “That Ain’t My Wife” on March 14.

CKUW RADIO  (Winnipeg, Canada college radio  station) – New remastered version of “TDTYM” aired on April 9th.

WXDU RADIO  (Durham, NC  station) – New remastered version of “TDTYM” & Do Our Thing Together aired on April 2nd. “Got To Get A Message To You” also aired on April 6th. “Remember I Said Tomorrow” aired on April 8th

THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD (NZ daily) – Positive album review
Album reviews: Swamp Dogg
By Scott Kara
No, not Snoop Dogg, but Jerry Williams (aka Swamp Dogg), a soul man and American music cult hero who had his heyday in the 70s and early 80s. These reissues are his first two albums, with 1970 debut, Total Destruction to Your Mind, a near classic. It’s at its best with the hard-out grooves, blasts of brass, and Dogg’s effortless and wild delivery on the title track and the cheeky and tough Red Neck with lines like “Hey Red Neck, God said brain, you thought he said rain, and you ran for cover”. But he can slip into slower soul crooner mode on The World Beyond, which sounds like a Maori show band tune, and the lovely lilting and loping serenade of I Was Born Blue. The highlight though is Sal-a-Faster, because from the moment it hits, with its low-slung funky bass line, simple incessant guitar hook, and the wending and winding vocal , it’s what makes this album a magical – yet somewhat sadly overlooked – slice of 70s soul.

Meanwhile, Rat On! is a continuation of Total Destruction’s blend of soul, funk and rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s not quite as vital and dynamic, with songs like Predicament #2 a little whiney and his cover of the Bee Gees’ Got to Get a Message to You aimless and basic. But never fear, because you can get your “rat on” to opener Do You Believe and closer Do Our Thing Together which will have you pulling you best soul man moves, and sliding across the floor.
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On She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye he delves into his country music influences, but overall Swamp Dogg is a funk soul brother.

Stars: 4/5
Total Destruction to Your Mind

Stars: 3.5/5
Rat On!

– TimeOut

THE RECORD CHANGER (online music blog) – Positive album review

There’s something about the sound of southern soul records that suggests a pool room on a Saturday night, and a Baptist church on Sunday morning. The best southern soul artists can take you to both places on the same record – sometimes in the same song. Southern soul records sound a little rougher and not as sophisticated as the records that come out of the metropolitan areas up north. There’s usually a distinctive guitar that plays stinging licks, a deep-fried organ, horns that testify, and a rhythm section that could keep perfect time in the middle of a hurricane. The lyrics touch all the bases – politics, the economy, substance abuse, Jesus, sin, sex – just about anything that touches the lives of everyday people. The records coming out of labels like Atlantic, Stax, Hi, Excello, Malaco and several others all had that sound in common. Artists like O.V. Wright, Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, James Carr, Otis Clay and others made the kinds of records I’m talking about. Those records sound as good today as they did when they were brand new.
That’s why the reissues of Swamp Dogg’s 1970 Total Destruction To Your Mind and 1971’s Rat On! albums by Alive-Natural Sound are cause for celebration. Swamp Dogg is Jerry Williams – one of the most talented singers, songwriters, and producers of his generation. Born 70 years ago in Portsmouth, Virginia, Williams has been making music professionally since the age of 12. He’s never really had a hit under his own name, but writing hits for others like Johnny Paycheck and Gene Pitney kept him going. Anyone can tell you, though, that you don’t hang around for six decades in any business unless you’ve got talent to burn.
Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! are textbook examples of genuine southern soul. They’re records that sound familiar the first time you hear them. And they never age. They’re the kinds of records you don’t bother to file because you’re playing them all the time. In this age of lies, somebody’s got to tell the truth. And the truth is as close as your turntable. Swamp Dogg is back. Everything gonna be alright.
Available from Alive-Natural Sound Records at in vinyl or compact disc formats. Also, check out this interview with Swamp Dogg at Aquarium Drunkard and keep an eye open for more Swamp Dogg coming soon from Alive.

EXTRA MUSIC NEWS (online music site) – “I Was Born Blue” #74 on their April Top 100 Promo Chart (Best New Tracks):
TOP 100 Promo Chart – April 2013

MIDWEST RECORD (Chicagoland music site) – Positive album s.
SWAMP DOGG/Total Destruction to Your Mind: The original classic Swamp Dogg that set the standard and the pace for what would follow. Little Jerry Williams was having a melt down but still had to shake his money maker. The generation gap was widening and the cities were burning. Funkadelic had yet to launch maggot nation. What to do? Williams became Swamp Dogg down in Macon and came out with a set that bridged both sides of all the gaps that were widening and served up a funk, rock, political tour de force like no one had ever seen before. And it wound up on Elektra which had transitioned from being a folkie label to a rock label in the wake Doors success but now had to fill that widening gap. They certainly get points for being the one to take a chance on this. Dead solid perfect outsider music loaded with elements that would soon become mainstream and not be fully recognized until many years later when sampled on records routinely selling over 10 million copies. This is one of the top reasons to go digging in the old school crates. Still as wild now as it was then.

SWAMP DOGG/Rat On!: The original Macon sessions for this set were scraped and the date was moved to Muscle Shoals to be mid wifed by those funky white boys that knew their way around soul. The Muscle Shoals gang tried to keep it commercial but Dogg had other ideas, and he certainly made a set that stood out. A stand out example of outsider soul wielding a political cudgel full of lyrics that made you wonder what that was. Wild stuff that anyone who was never impressed with the top 40 of any genre will know was made for them. And it only took 40 years for them to find it. Another wild ride loaded with moves Swamp Dogg would never made as unbridled again.

WFMU RADIO  (East Orange, NJ Freeform radio station) – New remastered version of ” Remember, I Said Tomorrow  ” aired April 1st.

KDHX RADIO (St. Louis, MO Community radio station) – New remastered version of ” Everything You’ll Ever Need” aired March 29th on Steve Pick’s Sound Salvation show.
Swamp Dogg “Everything You’ll Ever Need” from Total Destruction to Your Mind SINGLE (Alive 1970) —The first two Swamp Dogg albums are getting the reissue treatment they deserve, at long last.
Contact: Steve Pick –

THE VOICE 88.7 RADIO (Sacramento, CA Community radio station) – “Got To Get Message To You” aired March 1 on Paul Hefti’s Semi-Twang show
Contact: Paul Hefti –

THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN (Santa Fe, NM daily) – Positive album review with album art and videos.
Dogg is my co-pilot
By Steve Terrell

Great news for fans of the soul man known as Swamp Dogg: Alive/Naturalsound records has just re-released Mr. Dogg’s first two albums, Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On! Both have been out of print for years.

I know there are members of the cult of Swamp Dogg among my readership. But there’s a good chance that the vast majority of readers have no idea who he is.

Born Jerry Williams in Portsmouth, Virginia, more than 70 years ago, he began recording in the mid-1950s under the name of Little Jerry and later “Little Jerry Williams.” His Swamp Dogg persona didn’t emerge until 1970 with Total Destruction to Your Mind. Rat On! followed the next year.

Despite having a wonderful, sometimes piercing high voice, Swamp Dogg managed never to become a mainstream success. His biggest success is probably being the co-writer — along with fellow soul-belter Gary “U.S.” Bonds — of “She’s All I Got,” a huge country hit for Johnny Paycheck in the early ’70s.

But Swamp Dogg was intent on forging his own path in the music world. Years before it was fashionable, he bolted the big labels and started his own independent company, Swamp Dogg Entertainment Group, even though that meant leaner record sales and relative obscurity.

Another possibility is that these albums didn’t go platinum because of the covers, which were punk-rock in spirit years before punk.

The cover of Total Destruction features a fuzzy photo of Swamp in his underwear with what might be a saucepan on his head, sitting on what looks like a garbage truck. Rat On! has a picture of Swamp Dogg wearing a snazzy black-and-white pimp cap and matching shirt and riding a large white rat the size of a horse.

(The strange, sometimes off-putting Swamp Dogg album covers never stopped. His 2003 record If I Ever Kiss It … He Can Kiss It Goodbye shows Swamp Dogg in a rather conservative suit surrounded by oversized disembodied tongues and lips. Then in 2007 there was Resurrection, which had a cover depicting the singer nailed to a cross, clad only in an U.S.-flag loincloth.)

But you can’t judge a record by the cover, so those who skipped the early Swamp Dogg records because of the album art did themselves a disservice. Especially when it comes to Total Destruction to Your Mind.

The title song opens the album, with Swamp making an overt “I Am the Walrus” reference (“Sittin’ on a corn flake …”). It’s an upbeat, gospel-infused tune, but despite the surreal lyrics and some subdued wah-wah guitar, I wouldn’t call this a “psychedelic” soul song as countless other writers have. It’s just good-time Southern soul. Swamp refers to “psychedelic music to blow my mind” in the next song, “Synthetic World.” But the music on this tune is sweet and mellow.

I can almost imagine the late Richard Manuel of The Band singing the song “The World Beyond,” a lament taking place in some post-apocalyptic reality. (Believe it or not, this was written by Bobby Goldsboro, most famous for the sap masterpieces “Honey” and “Broomstick Cowboy.”) And I’m not sure which reality “I Was Born Blue” came from. In the refrain, Swamp sings, “Why wasn’t I born with orange skin and green hair like the rest of the people in the world?”

One of the harder-edged tracks here is the slow-burning, swampy “Sal-a-Faster,” which starts out with Swamp confessing, “I just hafta always stay plastered …” But the song in which he seems to be having the most fun is “Redneck,” which was written by Joe South. That’s one of two South songs here, the other being “These Are Not My People,” which is about a young woman who falls victim to the temptations of the wild side of life.

Total Destruction ends with a couple of tunes that perhaps should have been called “The Paternity Suit Suite.” “The Baby Is Mine” is about tensions between a guy and his ex-love’s husband. “You can bet your life, she might be his wife/but the baby is mine,” Swamp sings. The next tune, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe,” is a straight-up blues about a “wild” woman married to a brown-eyed man who is worried whether his blue-eyed child is really his.

Rat On! starts out with “Do You Believe,” which has Swamp pondering the political landscape of the day. “Do you believe in the NAACP/Or the Ku Klux Klan/The Panther Party/or in Uncle Sam?”

But the theme changes to personal domestic matters in the next song. “Predicament #2” is about a guy with a loving wife and child as well as a mistress on the side. “One woman keeps my heart and the other keeps my family,” he sings.

Later in the album, he sings about a more unusual situation. “That Ain’t My Wife” is about a guy who walks into his old house and watches a couple making out on the couch. He leaves, gets some booze at a liquor store, and goes back to the house just to make sure.

Two of my favorite songs on Rat On! are covers. Swamp Dogg does a stirring version of The Bee Gees’ “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You.” But even better is his soul-soaked take on a Mickey Newberry classic, “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye.” Right now I can’t decide whether I like this song best by Swamp Dogg or Jerry Lee Lewis.

OTHER MUSIC (NYC record shop’s music blog) – Positive album review.
SWAMP DOGG – Total Destruction to Your Mind & Rat On!
Everyone get down on your knees and give thanks, for these two magnificent albums are back on store shelves once again. Swamp Dogg is one of my personal favorite soul singers and songwriters, a man who has written for and worked with such luminaries as Irma Thomas, Doris Duke, and Gary U.S. Bonds, and who has repeatedly over the years been given a bum deal thanks to his absolutely wicked early material getting bootlegged and illegally distributed countless times over. These official reissues of his first two solo albums, 1970’s Total Destruction to Your Mind and ’71’s Rat On!, are a godsend. The Dogg, born Jerry Williams Jr., takes the slinky groove of Sly Stone or Invictus-era Parliament and combines it with the biting wit and fiery guitar burn of Frank Zappa, cemented together by a vibe that blends country soul with bayou musk. His albums sound like no one else yet ring oddly familiar, pulling no punches yet serenading you with tender platitudes. He straddles the line between commercial promise and cult obscurity, never letting one side win out over the other, and it’s precisely that extreme dedication to his craft and creative voice that has made his LPs highly desirable amongst diggers worldwide. Fans of everything from Betty Davis to last year’s Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters electric reissues owe it to themselves to pick these up PRONTO. The man is an icon who places trash and treasure in equal measure, and if the idea of Bobby Womack fronting the Mothers of Invention sounds like a good time to you (and trust me, it should sound good to all of you), I cannot recommend these two albums enough. I say get them both at the same time, because if you dig one, you’re going to want a hit of the other one right away. Trust me on this one… you need some Swamp Dogg in your life. Destroy your mind! [IQ]

KSFR RADIO  (Santa Fe, NM radio station) – New remastered version of “Total Destruction…” aired March 24th on Steve Terrell’s’s show.

AQUARIUM DRUNKARD (popular L.A. based online music blog) – Feature/interview with Swamp photo, album art and two mp3 streams.
Swamp Dogg Speaks :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview
Jerry Williams Jr. didn’t adopt the handle “Swamp Dogg” in the early ‘70s in order to confuse, obfuscate, or mislead anyone. To hear the man tell it, he took on the name because it was imperative to do so. “It was born out of a necessity, to find myself, my identity,” the 80-year-old singer says via phone from his home in Southern California. His voice is pitched high, laced with a strong Southern accent that betrays his Georgia roots.

“I didn’t know who Jerry Williams was for a while. That’s when I started having a lot of acute anxiety. Here I had agoraphobia and claustrophobia, at the same motherfucking time. Swamp Dogg wasn’t afraid of anything, where at that time Jerry Williams was afraid of his shadow. I knew Jerry Williams was still the motive for Swamp Dogg; it was like putting a Chevy motor in a Rolls-Royce. That’s what made it run. It’s not really a Rolls, you know? It’s a Chevy that looks like one.”

This month sees the re-release Swamp Dogg’s gonzo soul classics Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On!, via California-based label Alive Records. Originally released in 1970 and ‘71 by Canyon Records and Elektra, respectively, the records exhibit the organic change from “Little” Jerry Williams – who’d recorded R&B platters and worked for a short stint as a staff producer at Atlantic – into the wild and feral Swamp Dogg.

MP3: Swamp Dogg :: Creeping Away

Total Destruction’s title track roars with amplified funk boogie, with guitarist Jesse Carr and drummer Johnny Sandlin providing fuzz and a gutbucket beat. The song establishes Swamp Dogg as a character on the same wavelength as rock’s avant garde, with gritty, hard-edged melodies, and a clear admiration for blue-collar country. But it’s not all bombast: Rat On! delivers a couple exquisite weepers, like the tender Bee Gees cover, “Got to Get a Massage to You” and “Predicament #2,” where Swamp mourns a bad situation: he’s got a great wife, but he’s also got a great mistress. Why can’t one woman be both?  “Back then, people were like, ‘Why would someone call themselves a dog?’” he laughs. “People would come down on me because I named myself Dogg. People would say, ‘Why would you name yourself that? What’s your real name? I’m not going to call you that! I’m going to call you by your real name,’ and I said, ‘You can call me by Kiss-My-Ass, you know? I am Swamp Dogg, you motherfucker, and that’s it.”
Swamp’s boldness couldn’t be better exhibited than the cover of Rat On!. Jerry Williams – whose “concept” was to “make the ladies want to buy some records, that’s all,” probably wouldn’t have gone for a record sleeve as bizarre. Featuring a proud Swamp, arms raised atop a white rat, the cover has earned a slot on more than a few “Worst Album Covers Ever” lists, a fact that he’s very proud of. When asked who came up with the outlandish cover idea, he scoffs.

“Me! You wouldn’t hire anybody to do that, would you? If they did, you wouldn’t pay ‘em. You’d be like, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ I didn’t know what a ‘Swamp Dogg cover’ was really supposed to look like, because I really hadn’t totally figured out who Swamp Dogg was, or what he was supposed to be.”

Nearly everyone else had a hard time figuring Swamp Dogg out, too. Rat On!, with its mix of politically minded lyricism (the “for what” in “God Bless American For What” was initially censored) and ribald numbers, was more conventional than Total Destruction to Your Mind, but it was still too freaky for some.

“I would use a curse word every now and then in my songs,” he says. “I said things that were ahead of their time. There’s a line in Total Destruction which is, ‘They found out how to tax the grass, watch ‘em get the law passed.’ In 1970, people were still going to jail for grass. Now, they found out how to get the taxes, so all of the sudden they legalize it. So, that’s it.”

His occasional radical talk endeared him to Jane Fonda, and along with the actress, he allegedly found himself on Nixon’s “enemy list.” Not that he’s ever seen it. “I don’t know if Nixon had anything to do with it. That may have been some J. Edgar Hoover shit. But it’s like Elvis said. Well, I’m quite sure that somebody said it before Elvis Presley, but it gets attributed to Elvis: ‘I don’t give a fuck what you say about me; just spell my name right.’”

Rat On! tanked, and records for Island and Takoma followed. Swamp was nearly close to signing with Mercury for a country record, but the deal fell through. “Cause I was black,” he says. “I’m not playing the race card. I was black and they were scared.”

MP3: Swamp Dogg :: If I Die Tomorrow

But unlike so many cult figures, he didn’t fade away. He launched his own imprint, the Swamp Dogg Entertainment Group, to issue his records and production work. Plus, he’s had money coming in from licensing his songs. Kid Rock, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek, and others have sampled him. He considers himself more of a soul purist, with an all-analog studio save for an electronic drum kit, but he’s a fan of hip-hop.

“I’ve had hit records with it! Let me tell you something — I am so thankful for rappers and hip-hop artists, I don’t know what to do,” he says. “I won’t sit with sons of bitches talking about, ‘Man, that ain’t real music. They get the songs and they fuck ‘em up,’ and this that and the other. Here I’ll be sitting on a 17-million seller from Kid Rock. Ah, shit! Y’all kiss my ass. I’m getting out y’all’s way before lightening strikes you motherfuckers.”

Samples aside, he was proud when Alive Records approached him about reissuing his fist forays as Swamp Dogg. He says they’re the first of many Swamp Dogg releases the label is planning, and he’s happy to be working with people who “exude integrity,” unlike the bootleggers worldwide he’s certain have been making millions of Swamp Dogg recordings.

“You can tell that these motherfuckers are right,” he says. “It’s just like when you meet a woman and you say, in one night, ‘This is the bitch. I’m going to cultivate this motherfucking relationship.’ Usually, she turns out to be the right one.”

He chuckles. “Unless you meet her under the wrong circumstances. You meet her at an orgy or some shit. You don’t take that bitch home to mama. But no, they’ve been great. I mean shit; they treat me like I’m Rihanna or Britney Spears or something. Rihanna! They treat me like a fucking star. I don’t know about a super star, but they treat me like a star.”

In the liner notes of Total Destruction, Swamp goes out of way to thank himself: “I owe all my present success to a very dear person..a person whom I love, worship and admire beyond any shadow of a doubt – ME!!” But in a more reflective mood today, he chocks up his unique triumphs to good karma, too.

“When people do things to me that’s not cool, I keep on going, based on what people say is in the Bible,” he says. “I’ve never read it, because I don’t understand it. But you know, you’ve got all these people that understand it, and they say vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I’m like, ‘Okay, I don’t need to stop for revenge.’”

He pauses, and thinks for a moment, before adding: “There is such a thing as sweet revenge – I’ll employ that – it depends on what the situation is.”   words/ j woodbury

Swamp Dogg Speaks :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

BLINDED BY LIGHT (online music blog) – Positive album reviews with art.
Review: Swamp Dogg ‘Rat On!’, ‘Total Destruction To Your Mind’ Re-Issues
By Greg Barbrick

“I am very proud of the fact that this album cover has been considered and nominated as one of the top ten ‘Worst Album Covers’ in the history of album covers. The left-handed accolade has helped this masterpiece to sell and avoid obscurity.” Those are the opening words of Swamp Dogg’s a.k.a. Jerry Williams Jr.’s liner notes to the Alive Records reissue of his second album, Rat On! (1971)

In reading his statement, the first thing I thought about was his great sense of humor, but he is also quite correct. I have been aware of Swamp Dogg for years, and the cover art of Rat On! is definitely one reason, but I had never had the opportunity to listen to him until now. With a name like Swamp Dogg, one might reasonably expect the music to sound kind of, well “swampy.” I was thinking maybe Creedence or even a genuine Cajun such as Doug Kershaw.

There is not much “swamp” in Mr. Dogg’s music though. This is fairly straight-forward Stax-ish early ’70s R&B. I must say, ugly cover artwork or not, it is pretty great. Actually, referring back to those classic Stax albums of that era is a compliment, but it is not altogether accurate. On both Rat On!, and its predecessor Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970), there is a lot more going on than “just” rollicking rhythm and blues.

The legend that has developed over the years about Swamp Dogg was that he was some sort of musical idiot savant. I’m sorry, I did not come up with this, it is just something I had read (in a few sources). Allow me to apologize for such a terrible misperception, for it is as wrong as could be. My guess is that the people who described him that way took the cover art at face value, and never even listened to the music. Because once you do hear the music, you realize that this guy should have been a star. There is some fantastic stuff on these records.

The first indicator for me that there was way more going on with Swamp Dogg than “just” great R&B came with “Creeping Away,” on Rat On!. I kept trying to place it, and finally I realized that part of it reminded me of “Up On Cripple Creek” by The Band. Not a direct cop mind you, more in that whole “Americana”-type feel that The Band did so well.

His cover of the Bee Gees’ “Got To Get A Message To You” was what really sold me though. This guy knows his stuff, inside and out. If you did not recognize the lyrics, you would never know that the Brothers Gibb wrote this track. It is so funky, and the way he makes it is own is so perfect that the song just knocked my socks off.

Rat On! really is a lost classic, and one that was ridiculously overlooked in its time. Just to add to what I so enjoyed about this music, some of it also shares some qualities with that of what Van Morrison was doing at about the same time. Almost every Morrison fan I know can agree on one thing during his spotty career. He was at an absolute peak in the early ’70s. Swamp Dogg uses horns very similarly to the way Van did on albums such as Moondance and Tupelo Honey. A couple of examples of this on Rat On! include “That Ain’t My Wife,” and his version of Mickey Newbury’s “She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye.”

To get an idea of just how fantastically eclectic Jerry Williams Jr. is, check out those cover artists again. The Bee Gees and Mickey Newbury! Those two do not easily sit side by side. Yet, here they do. Hearing those and his own originals done up in a sweet soul style, with horns and funky chicken-scratch guitars is sheer brilliance if you ask me.

As I mentioned earlier, Total Destruction To Your Mind was Swamp Dogg’s debut album, and while the cover art is not quite as bad as that of Rat On!, it is right up there. The cover features a terrible picture of Mr. Dogg, apparently at home. He wearing a weird silver hat that sort of looks like a graduation mortar-board, a white t-shirt, shorts, socks, and Beatle-boots. He is sitting on a funky old couch, with his foot up on what appears to be an oil-drum/coffee-table.

Alright, so once again, the presentation is not exactly enticing. In the Alive reissue notes, the artist has included some quotes. The first one is almost identical to what was once said to Frank Zappa. In Swamp Dogg’s case “A Very Big Man at Canyon Records” had this to say: “No commercial possibilities.”

Just like Rat On! though, it is obvious that nobody actually listened to the album. Well, some did, because original copies of these albums sell for big bucks to collectors. But again, he has produced some phenomenal music. The previously mentioned Stax-influenced R&B sound is a lot more prevalent on Total Destruction than  on Rat.

There are also some very impressive collaborations with one Gary “U.S.” Bonds. He and Jerry Williams Jr. co-wrote three tracks on this album. They are “Dust Your Head Color Red,” “Everything You’ll Ever Need,” and the closing “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe.” The songs are definite highlights of the set, but there is much more going on as well.

Actually, if forced to pick one, I would call the opening, title track my favorite. I love the powerful way this song blasts out, and the guitar solo in the middle just kicks ass. It reminds me of what I miss so much about Black music of the early ’70s. I’m a white-boy who was just a child at the time, but I loved what I heard then, and love it still.

I guess it is something that I have repeated over and over in this review, but it is a fact. Both of these albums are excellent. The covers are ugly as hell, but you know, so what? I guess back then though, that was enough. Hell, I have read the original Rolling Stone review of Funkadelic’s stone-classic Maggot Brain, and they hated it, mostly based on the cover art. So what chance did Jerry Williams Jr. have?

To lay my cards completely on the table, based on what I had heard about Swamp Dogg over the years, I had expected Rat On! and Total Destruction To Your Mind to be camp classics. The only thing that had me questioning this assumption was the fact that they were being reissued by Alive, who are a “no bullshit” label in my opinion. Rhino are very happy to release campy old albums, but I have never seen this from Alive. Now I know. They released these albums because they are truly great, nothing more, and nothing less.

To write a balanced review, I always try and find the “best” songs on a disc, and if there is a particularly “bad” one, I will point that out as well. There are ten songs on Rat On!, and twelve on Total Destruction To Your Mind. 22 tracks in all, and I swear there is not a single one that I would call a “dud.” That is somewhat incredible when you consider the situation. Both albums appear to be basically homemade, without a penny of major-label funding as far as I can tell. To have maintained such a high level of quality through both is mighty impressive.

Swamp Dogg’s sound is very much his own, but the reference points I have included are important for those who have never heard him before. If you have a taste for (what I consider at least) the best music of the early ’70s you need this. There are very definite elements of Stax-Volt R&B, the Americana of groups like The Band, and  the one of a kind “Celtic soul” of Van the Man in Swamp Dogg’s music. And there are even some “swamp” sounds, most especially during “Sal-A-Faster.”

These albums should have been re-released years ago, and I thank Alive for taking the plunge. There is no question in my mind that Swamp Dogg was/is a brilliant musician. Forget anything you have heard, and ignore the goofy artwork. This is some of the finest American music not only of its time, but of all time. I love both of these records.

WFMU RADIO  (East Orange, NJ Freeform radio station) – New remastered version of “That Ain’t My Wife” aired March 14th on Matt Fiveash’s show.

STEREOGUM (popular online music blog)
The Week In Music Writing: 3/3/13 – 3/9/13
Welcome to the fourth installment of The Week In Music Writing. Every Sunday, we’re gathering an unranked list of five recommended music-related pieces from the past seven days. We’re bound to miss an excellent article from time-to-time, so definitely leave links to others in the comments. This week, check out five pieces from ego trip, Pigeons & Planes, Grantland, SPIN, and the Huffington Post.
Tha Real Motherfucking Doggfather by David Marchese for SPIN
Indie listeners still have a big heart for R&B sounds, but this week, SPIN’s David Marchese spoke to the man who worked with so many artists whose rock albums were influenced by the genre. Swamp Dogg is responsible for a legion of records, including Kid Rock’s Devil Without A Cause. If that’s a deterrent, Marchese’s prose and the commentary on how to work with a Wurlitzer make this one of the most engaging pieces that was published this week. Lovers of the word “motherfucker” best get to reading, too.

The Week In Music Writing: 3/3/13 – 3/9/13

RUST MAGAZINE (Atlanta based online music site) – Positive album review with cover art and two mp3s.
Swamp Dogg Re-Releases
In 1970 Jerry Williams Jr. changed his name to Swamp Dogg, released his album “Total Destruction To Your Mind” and a legend was born. The next year he secured his place in soul music history when he released “Rat On” and now the kind folks at Alive/Natural Sound Records have remastered and re-released both albums, giving contemporary audiences a fresh window into that magical moment of super soul legend. Though most people probably don’t have an immediate recognition of the man or the music, hopefully these re-releases will introduce new – and future – generations of listeners to his funky deep soul sound.
The take-away here is that these albums are the real deal. Swamp Dogg lays down authentic R&B soul that sounds even better today than when it was released, thanks to mastering by Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters. This is the kind of music that you always knew was out there, but maybe you never knew where to find it. Maybe you heard one of his songs on the radio, maybe on a dusty old jukebox at a bar on the wrong side of the tracks or at a family gathering when grandma or grandpa put on one of their “old” albums. Filled with smooth grooves, heartfelt emotion and… well… lots and lots of soul, it’s a special moment when exceptional works like this are refreshed and re-introduced.
These albums are jewels from another place and another time, and they remind us that there is a lot of great talent from this era that has almost been forgotten. Beyond the function of preservation, what these re-releases ultimately accomplish is to communicate to people today the value of the art – from this person at this time – on both a specific level of the artist as well as the movement as a whole. Swamp Dogg has a whole lot of soul, and through his music he created an amazing moment. Now we get to share it again. After 40 years, Swamp Dogg’s music is as relevant, heart-felt and authentic as ever, and through the re-issues of “Rat On” and “Total Destruction To Your Mind” fresh and future generations will be able to reach back through time and get schooled on what the term “old school soul” meant to one of its core artists. Essential.

PASSION OF THE WEISS (online music blog) – Positive album review with cover art and two mp3s.
The Psychedelic Soul of Swamp Dogg
If you don’t want to listen to a slept-on early 70s soul platter from a man named Swamp, pictured riding a Secret of NIMH-sized white rat on his album cover, then you and I are qualitatively different human beings. This is Swamp Dogg Williams, a musician who I had not heard of until David Marchese dropped this spectacular 5,000 word Spin profile earlier this week. The best articles are not only entertaining, but they teach you something you new. Not only did the piece put me up on the the existence of the recently re-issued Rat On and Total Destruction, two low-profile, high-personality masterpieces from the Nixon years. It also serves as a glance at a vanished era of the industry and another tributary in the alternative history of music. We focus on the Ray Charles’ and Marvin Gaye’s for good reason. But equally interesting are the stories of the forgotten greats, those who smoked through the cracks of history, threw Eyes Wide Shut orgies in upstate New York, and used the word “motherfucker with the meticulousness of Miles Davis. Swamp Dogg is one of those deities. Who else could write a line like “Friendship is like acid, it burns as it slides away?”
So learn you some things, buy the records, and download some foetid and free funk below the jump. Get weird, ride the rat to the swamp. Etc.

ALL MUSIC (online music site) – Positive album review
Swamp Dogg – Total Destruction to Your Mind (CD – Alive Natural Sounds #141)
The title track is a slam-bangin’ chunk of rock and funk that’s pushed by a great session band including guitarist Jesse Carr and drummer Johnny Sandlin, and is easily Dogg’s finest moment on record. But the rest of this is great too, ranging from the consumer nightmare “Synthetic World” to the paternity blues of “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe.” Plus, Dogg is a great singer, and his dizzying range gets a workout on these songs.

WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY (online music site) – Second positive post with album art and video.
Return of the Dogg
It’s official – 60’s and 70’s outsider soul icon Swamp Dogg is back.  Far more than a novelty act, his combination of soul, funk and rock wears very well over  40 years later  His return was first reviewed here:  Swamp Dogg is off the leash.   This week Alive Natural Sound Records release Swamp Dogg’s first two recordings – “Total Destruction To Your Mind” (1970) and “Rat On” (1971.)
Both are available on vinyl or CD.  Get your Dogg on and check it out.  Find out what George Clinton meant when he said “Must be the Dogg in me.” Take him for a walk and find your inner Dogg.

THE DAILY PRESS / SOUND CHECK (Hampton Roads, VA daily) – Positive album review with cover art.
Early albums by Swamp Dogg, the Portsmouth-born soul cult hero, reissued on CD and vinyl
By Sam McDonald
Jerry Williams, better known to record collectors and soul obsessives as Swamp Dogg, remains a shadowy figure even to many in his hometown of Portsmouth.
A ray of light is being beamed at his legacy, though, courtesy of Alive Naturalsound Records. The label is releasing remastered versions of the first two Swamp Dogg albums, “Total Destruction To Your Mind,” from 1970 and “Rat On!” from 1971. Both are out this week.
The discs are highly sought after for both their funky grooves and eccentric moods.
“Easily on my Top Ten list of long-out-of-print records that deserve a CD reissue,” John Dougan wrote, describing “Total Destruction …” on “The title track is a slam-bangin’ chunk of rock and funk that’s pushed by a great session band including guitarist Jesse Carr and drummer Johnny Sandlin, and is easily Dogg’s finest moment on record. But the rest of this is great too …”
He concludes his review with, “Good luck finding a copy.”
In addition to CD and black vinyl versions, there will also be a limited number of colored vinyl discs available for both titles. Those are exclusive to mail orders through Bomp!
“Maverick soul artist Swamp Dogg has been described as the ‘soul genius that time forgot,’ and ‘a strange combination of Sly Stone’s progressive funk with Frank Zappa’s lyrical absurdism,'” a news release said. “In the ’70s he even made the famed Nixon’s Enemies List.”,0,7092776.story

PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER  (Philly weekly) – Positive album review with cover art.
What we’re listening to
Hyped-up unearthings of vintage funk/soul “lost classics” are a dime a dozen nowadays, but it’s not often you encounter something as truly strange and striking as the first two LPs from Virginia eccentric Jerry Williams Jr., aka Swamp Dogg. Total Destruction to Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! (1971) — remastered/reissued on Alive Naturalsound — make good on their gonzo titles with faintly absurd yet salient satire on war, consumerism and race politics all backed by roiling, Stax-style funk. —K. Ross Hoffman

WXDU RADIO  (Durham, NC  station) – New remastered version of “Synthetic World” aired March 6th & “TDTYM” on March 10th.

WNCU RADIO  (Durham, NC  Jazz station) – Interview with Swamp and Howard Burchette on The Funk Show.

LARGEHEARTED BOY  (online music blog) – Brief news posting on Spin profile.
SPIN profiles soul legend Swamp Dogg and shares a collection of his craziest album covers.

SOUL SAUCE (Soul/R&B music blog) – Brief news posting on Spin profile.

Hi Folks… you’d never know it, but I’m a huge fan of Jerry ‘Swamp Dogg’ Williams. Although I’ve mentioned his work as a songwriter and producer any number of times, somehow I never got around to writing about him as the groundbreaking artist and all-around Great American that he is. Well, as it turns out, now I don’t have to.

David Marchese has put together a knockout interview and profile over on SPIN that covers all the bases (and then some!). From his early days hawking songs in the Brill Building, to becoming the first black producer at Atlantic (“Just draw your money and shut the fuck up”), to the great records he cut for Canyon and Mankind on folks like Freddie North and Irma Thomas, to his emergence as an acid-fueled R&B visionary, Marchese has captured the tone and spirit of this uncompromising self-made Legend intact. Check it out!

The Dogg’s first two albums, Total Destruction Of Your Mind and Rat On! were re-issued on high quality vinyl and CD just yesterday by Alive Naturalsound Records…

It’s great to see Williams finally getting some of the respect and name-recognition he deserves in the mainstream press… after all, he is Tha Real Mother****ing Doggfather!!

THE FIRENOTE (online music site) – Positive album reviews.
Swamp Dogg: Total Destruction Of Your Mind / Rat On! [Album Review]
Fire Note Says: Swamp Dogg’s music finally gets the respect that it deserves.

Album Review: Back in the late 60’s/early 70’s there was quite the musical renaissance that was taking place. Miles Davis’ jazz freak opus Bitches Brew took shape, Sly & The Family Stone was killing it, Led Zeppelin was storming the scene, and Hendrix’s lingering guitar leads where influencing everything from funk to rock and R&B to jazz. So then, fast forward about 40 years later where many shapes, sizes, and sounds can fly. Jerry Williams Jr. aka Swamp Dogg then and now was and is the real deal and it is his time to shine. Born a music man from the beginning, cult hero Swamp Dogg’s 1970’s Total Destruction of Your Mind and 1971’s Rat On! (voted one of the worst album covers of all time, a fact Swamp is quite proud of) reissues show how soulful, beautiful, and advanced the lyrics, tones, and funk were at the time.

A Beefheart of R&B, The Fogerty of funk, and the sultan of Stax like psych Swamp Dogg takes a historic landscape of funk and R&B. All the while writing songs and penning lyrics in his own off kilter, witty style. Jabs at the U.S. Government, Anti-Vietnam protest songs, infidelity, illegitimate children, redneck rabble rousers, and snake oil like concoctions. It takes on a weird hodgepodge of taboo romantics, religion, responsibility, and respect. Total Destruction of Your Mind carries a bit more psychedelic themes and theories’ about its self. While, Rat On! is a bit more hard hitting and heavy handed with it themes as infidelity, war, and color seem to make more of an appearance.

It’s true that most essential tracks fall out of Total Destruction of Your Mind but Rat On! still has it merits. Title track “Total Destruction of Your Mind” starts right out the gate with a fun, fast funk and a Beatles reference to boot, “Sittin on a corn flake”. Also, Swamp’s scat like song endings are showcased here. It seems to be used often and some might find it lazy but I think it works just fine and only ramps up the fun. Soul stunner “Dust Your Head Color Red” impresses with vocal prowess, the right amount of brass blasts, and the fantastic ballad like interplay between keys and organ. Soul stomper “Sal-A-Faster” is a drunken affair over interstellar snake oil. Destruction’s final track “Mama’s Baby , Daddy’s Maybe” employs an electric Howlin’ Wolf lead that’s the perfect big blues finish.

As I said, Rat On!, while not as strong at Destruction, still has its fair share of impressive tracks. “Do You Believe” proves that the funk is still alive and well here. Also, that scat like vocals to the tune of “ding-dang” carry the song to an end. “Predicament #2” asks God why it’s so hard for him to create a sexual goddess and family-oriented housewife. Swamp just solves the problem with infidelity and has both. “Creeping Away” shines and strokes those funk chords to a fine perfection. A nice surprise is the Bee Gees cover “Got To Get A Message To You” sung as sweetly as ever.

Swamp Dogg had an interesting view of soul that needed to be heard. Alive did great work choosing to reissue these albums that fell out of print. Total Destruction of Your Mind had funk, soul, and innovation that’s fun with every spin. Rat On! while not as ear catching as Destruction still has its place as is noted by the albums strong combined score.

Key Tracks:
Total Destruction of Your Mind: “Dust Your Head Color Red”, “Sal-A-faster”, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe”

Rat On!: “Predicament #2”, “Creeping Away”, “That Ain’t My Wife”

Artists With Similar Fire: Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears / Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings / Doris Duke

NO DEPRESSION / HYPERBOLIUM (Americana music site / online music site) – Positive album reviews.
CD Review: Swamp Dogg – Total Destruction to Your Mind / Rat On!
Lost soul classics lost no more

Industry veteran Jerry Williams, Jr. unleashed his alter ego on this 1970 masterpiece, spelling out his unconventional views in groove-heavy soul music. He makes good on the title’s brag with catchy, original songs that touch on environmental decay, social isolation, dystopian visions, racism and questions of paternity. Williams’ lyrics are often Zappa-like in their surface absurdity, but there’s a gripping observation or lament at each song’s heart. His voice has the pinched, keening sound of the Showmen’s General Norman Johnson, but with a rounded richness that suggests Jackie Wilson. Recorded at Capricorn Studios in Macon, GA, his band is soaked in the horns, low bass and guitar riffs of Southern soul, and touched by the propulsion of West Coast funk. It’s hard to imagine how this record (as well as the follow-up, Rat On!, an album better known for its cover than its content) has remained so obscure and hard to find. A two-fer on Swamp Dogg’s S.D.E.G label has been available off-and-on since 2000, but Alive’s digipack remaster should give this five-star gem the broader circulation it deserves. It’s a shame new liner notes weren’t included to provide the album’s history and context; the booklet does reproduce the song list, personnel credits, a few “relevant quotes,” and a short, typically absurd, autobiography. Analog fans will be happy to find both this and Rat On! are also being reissued on vinyl [1 2].

Swamp Dogg’s newly penned liner notes tell the story of his second album’s original sessions (under the title of “Right On”) at Florida’s TK Studios, with a backing band that included Betty Wright, Lonnie Mack, Al Kooper and a label worker (and future disco star) named Harry Wayne “KC” Casey. Apparently the results sounded awesome to the alcohol- and herb-fueled participants, but were not so easy on the ears of anyone else. The resulting tapes were shelved (though a single of the original “Straight From My Heart” was released with a B-side cover of Joe South’s “Don’t Throw Your Love to the Wind”), and a second run at the album was made at Quinvy Studios in Muscle Shoals. The latter sessions were released on Elektra in 1971 as Rat On! The Quinvy crew featured several legendary musicians, including bassist Robert Lee “Pops” Popwell and guitarist Jesse Willard “Pete” Carr, and Swamp Dogg’s soul sound, much like that on his debut, gave the players solid grooves to explore. His songs continued to mix outspoken views on race, sex, religion, war, relationships and social issues, couched in melodies whose sweetness sometimes obscures the deep twists and turns of his lyrics. Listened to in passing, Rat On! offers top-flight ‘70s southern soul, with deep bass and punchy horns. But listened to more carefully, the album reveals a daring songwriter who wasn’t afraid to tell it as he saw it, challenging society’s icons of freedom with “God Bless America For What?” and landing himself on Nixon’s enemies list. The album’s features soulful reworkings of the Bee Gees’ “Got to Get a Message to You” and Mickey Newbury’s “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye,” and though the original tunes aren’t nearly as absurd those on Total Destruction to Your Mind, their messages are just as powerful, and their grooves are just as deep.

Swamp Dogg: Rat On!

NASHVILLE SCENE (Nashville weekly) – Feature interview.
Swamp Dogg: The Cream Interview
by Edd Hurt on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Swamp Dogg’s 1970 full-length, Total Destruction to Your Mind, updated soul music with post-psychedelic, Southern-fried guitar, and made its destructive point with acerbic lyrics about racism, rednecks, consumerism and the end of the world. Swamp Dogg is the pseudonym — the souldonym, really — of veteran producer, singer and songwriter Jerry Williams Jr., who had achieved a few successes of his own in the ’60s while producing hits for the likes of Gene Pitney and Charlie and Inez Foxx. Total Destruction to Your Mind was the work of a dissatisfied man, and a glimpse into one possible future for the soul music Williams had helped to create in the 1960s.
Along with 1971’s Rat On!, Swamp Dogg’s Total Destruction is getting a long-overdue reissue. Alive Naturalsound Records has released spiffy remastered versions of the two albums on CD and vinyl, and it could be that a new generation of music fans will come to appreciate the work of a brilliant, prolific soul auteur. Born in Virginia in 1942, Williams has also had a close connection with Nashville for decades — with co-writer Gary U.S. Bonds, Williams penned a classic country song, “She’s All I Got,” which went on to be a 1971 hit for Nashville soul singer Freddie North, as well as a smash for country vocalist Johnny Paycheck.
Produced by Williams for Mankind, a Nashville soul label, North’s version of “She’s All I Got” is true country-soul crossover. Cut in Music City with producer Billy Sherrill after the North version had made the charts, Paycheck’s version is stone country. The song has been recorded by around 90 artists, including Conway Twitty, Norma Jean and Floyd Cramer. A decade later, Williams came to Nashville and cut an idiosyncratic country album for Mercury. It didn’t see the light of day until Williams himself released it on CD some years later.
A songwriter whose trademark is a blithe aggression that reveals the aggrieved heart and soul of an incurable idealist and romantic, Williams has released a bewildering array of recordings in his nearly 60-year career. Before he adopted his Swamp Dogg moniker, Williams hit in 1966 with “Baby, You’re My Everything,” a mid-tempo tune that isn’t as sentimental as the title may suggest. As Swamp Dogg, Williams has recorded with such musicians as guitarist Jesse Carr and bassist Robert Popwell, along with Mississippi singer and drummer George Soulé, Miami guitar legend Willie “Little Beaver” Hale and legendary soul-funk-country-disco singer Esther Phillips.
Apart from Total Destruction and Rat On!, Swamp Dogg cut the hard-driving — and superb — 1973 full-length, Gag a Maggott [sic], which integrates sardonic horns into futuristic blues shuffles. On that record’s “Please Let Me Kiss You Goodbye,” Swamp Dogg sings about a woman who falls for a guy wearing “a little diamond ring and his bell-bottom suit.” Other Swamp Dogg songs address the many facets of the male-female dynamic: Cut by both Freddie North and Swamp Dogg himself, “Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long)” is a soul tune that ends with its hapless narrator peeking around his bedroom door as his wife makes it with another woman.
His 1977 track, “Understanding California Women,” features a narrator who goes home with a Beverly Hills woman who wears “shorts so tight, they wouldn’t let her cheeks breathe,” and becomes a kept man. And perhaps most succinctly, his 1976 “Or Forever Hold Your Peace” is an ingenious country-pop song about a father who has known, quite well, the wife-to-be of his beloved son.
I’m a fan — I drove from Memphis to Nashville in September 1998 to see Swamp Dogg play a pickup-band show at Nashville’s now-defunct Sutler. His two sets that year appear to have been the only Nashville dates in his long career, although he’s done a lot of recording here. His great air-raid siren voice is intact, and he’s still recording: recent records include a Christmas collection and a set of rock ‘n’ roll oldies. If anyone working in popular music has enlarged soul music’s thematic and musical scope, it’s Williams. We caught up with the master musician at his California home.
Jerry, we understand you’re living in Southern California these days.
Yeah, I’ve been living out here for about 40 years. They can stick Northern California up their ass. That’s like being in New York.
You’ve also spent time in Nashville.
It’s cool, and it’s cold, in Nashville. But I was sayin’ it’s cold, ’cause I’ve been there in the winter, stayin’ with a couple of friends of mine down there, and boy, he got ready to take me to the airport one morning, and he had to get hot water and put it on the door handle so he could open the son-of-a-bitch.
Tell us about the new reissues of your first two Swamp Dogg records. They’re amazing, and sound fresh after 40 years.
Well, first of all, the first one [Total Destruction to Your Mind], I didn’t even have a clue. I wasn’t even Swamp Dogg. It was just Jerry Williams in the studio, with a bunch of songs he liked, and I had a good crew: I had [drummer] Johnny Sandlin, [pianist] Paul Hornsby, Pete Carr and Robert Popwell. We just had a bunch of great musicians, and all of ’em were exuding ideas. Sometimes, there comes a time when a producer wants to try his ideas first, before he listens to people. In that case, although I was the producer, I didn’t go in there as a producer. I went in there as a guy who wanted all the help he could get in making a hit record. I’m gonna give you an example: on “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” right at the end, Johnny Sandlin is rollin’ the drums — “shik-a-took-a, shik-a-took-a” — and I didn’t like it. But everybody in the studio liked it. So I said, “Well, then, let’s roll with it.” And that’s what we did. There are times when you’re just not ready to make a good decision.
As Swamp Dogg, you could write about forbidden, off-limits subjects? Was that the idea?
Yeah, yeah, right. It was, uh, I wouldn’t go so far as to say “forbidden.” I’ve got people who come up to me and say — especially black people — “That [Total Destruction track] ‘Redneck,’ man, did you think you’d get in trouble with that?” I said, “That was written by a white boy [Joe South]! I didn’t write it; he wrote it. So why should anybody be mad at me? I’m just repeatin’ what he said.”
So you were always looking for great songs back then.
Yeah. I’m still that way. I’ve got two songs recorded that I did Sunday. Only the rhythm section, and a pilot vocal, that I did for the new album that I’m coming out with. I might be finished with this new album in the next, I don’t know, two, three months. ‘Cause every piece of material in there has to mean something, and it’s got to be Swamp Dogg. I found I had not lost Swamp Dogg since the first three albums. But I had misplaced the shit out of him.
In what way?
In other words, I had put Swamp Dogg somewhere so far behind, even when I restarted, I couldn’t find him. And it took me different ways, musically. I’m speaking to resolve this in my mind, and find him and bring him back.
So you were committed to pushing boundaries with Swamp Dogg, and that wasn’t happening any more?
That’s the word: committed. Yeah. I had lost a lot of commitment. In one stage of my life, I thought I was greater than I was. In another stage of my life, I felt inferior to everybody. You know, that’s a see-saw kinda thing. But neither one of them has positive outcomes. So I had to work on myself, mentally. Not just my music, but my everyday life. I feel real good about where I am at this moment.
Did it have something to do with your definition of success?
That could be part of it. But I was also lookin’ for something even greater. It’s like high-definition television. I was expecting much, much more when these motherfuckers came to my house and put in all those boxes and shit, and I got this big, wide screen. And I turned it on and I said, “It’s the same shit. It’s just a little brighter.”
I saw you play in 1998 in Nashville — I believe you did two sets.
Were you at that one place I played? What was it called?
The Sutler.
So you were one of the six people, huh?
Yeah. Had you played Nashville before, Swamp?
Never. Never. I tell you what I used to do. Whenever I was in Nashville, at the time, the hotel to stay in was Shoney’s. It was nice and really clean, had everything — everybody was stayin’ there. I used to walk across the street, and there was a club over there. I forget the name of the club, but I used to go over to that club and go up and sing. I’d sing maybe one song, two songs. And I would get standing ovations. But I wasn’t tryin’ to sing country. I was just singin’ what I sing. But naturally, the music was country, because it was a country band. That was the only times I really did anything in Nashville. I recorded in Nashville.
I really like the work you did with Freddie North on the Mankind label.
He already had a soul album he had produced. But Mankind, that was my label, to put all my stuff on, anything I picked up that I liked.
Tell me about writing “She’s All I Got,” which is a country standard.
Well, we actually were just in my basement. At that time, I lived in Queens, and Gary had most of the words written out on a piece of paper he’d been carryin’ around in his pocket for God knows how long. We used to try to get together at least four times a week, and write. All we could do is write. We didn’t have anybody to write for. He brought that out, and when he read me the words, a melody came to mind immediately. The music came to mind immediately. We switched a couple of words, just a few, and that was the song.
Now, when I went to cut Freddie North, I pulled it out and played it. He liked it. Nobody was, like, knocked overboard by it, you know. It was like singin’ “Three Blind Mice” — in the arrangement, the song didn’t go anywhere. And that wasn’t because of Freddie. I felt like we hadn’t given him a vehicle that would go anywhere. He was going around and around the block. That’s when I decided to put that tail end on it, where you just slow down, and you’ve got nothing but that little groove, and then it goes, “Kiss the ground in the summertime, and make the flowers grow.” That was what sold that record. And then the girls come in like a gospel thing.
Tell me about meeting Freddie North.
When I started the label, they kinda left it up to Freddie as to what he thought of the idea of bringin’ me and my label aboard. [North, whose real name is Freddie Carpenter, was born in Nashville in 1939. He recorded throughout the ’60s, and was national promotions director for Nashboro Records when Williams started Mankind as a Nashboro subsidiary.] Freddie, who didn’t know me but had heard some of my production, had nothing but good things to say. That’s what got me in. He could’ve kept me out, easily. That runs rampant among lots of musicians and producers, of all colors. They know they’re good, but they’ll do what they can to keep you out, if they can. That was the first thing that gave me the utmost respect for him. And [Nashboro executive] Bud Howell said, “Now, here’s what I want you to do. Freddie here thinks he can sing. I want you to produce a record on him, if you come on board.” I said, “No problem.”
So we signed the papers and passed the money ’round and everything, and then Freddie came out to New York — by that time I’d moved to Long Island — and we worked on the material. [I interviewed North last year, and asked him about working with Williams on the Friend album. North said, “One day, he was gonna drive from over in Jersey to the city. I go outside and get in the car, in the back, and he and his wife were in the front. He starts the car up and he sits there for a minute — we got our seat belts on. All of a sudden, he slapped it into gear and floored that thing, and took off from a standstill. He was gone. And when we would go into the studio, that’s the exact procedure he would take, right there.”]
Were you surprised at the success of “She’s All I Got”?
Yeah, I really was, because first of all, I don’t even think I wanted to put that record out as the first single. But they did, and everybody heard it, except me.
Do you have a favorite version?
There’s about 90 covers. Johnny Paycheck for sure. Him and Freddie. I kinda like Floyd Cramer’s instrumental of it. Sheb Wooley, he did a version. He got in touch with us and said he was gonna do it, and he wanted half the publishing. So I told him to go suck out my ass. Like I’m gonna give him half on the publishing on a song that is nominated for a Grammy and shit, just for him to go in and community-ize it. There is no such word, but I think I like that — community-ize the fuckin’ song. But he did it anyway.
Freddie North told me his version of “She’s All I Got” sold 900,000 copies.
It sold a million-one. What happened, when it got up to 900,000, I made a deal with the Armed Forces for 100,000. And they took ’em. Because of the exposure that came from that, another hundred thousand was sold.
What do you think of the term, “country-soul”?
If you take away the horns from most of my recording, you’ve really got somewhat of a country version. Like Mickey Newbury’s “She Just Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye” and even “God Bless America for What,” they’re country. I am country. I was raised up on country music. The only black music I heard was on jukeboxes in service stations and places like that. The first talent show I ever appeared on, I came in second place. I sang “Peace in the Valley” by Red Foley. Everybody in the house was into country, but they were also into Louis Jordan and that kind of shit.
Your 1971 album with Z.Z. Hill, The Brand New Z.Z. Hill, was designed as a kind of blues opera. Tell me about working on that.
Yeah, that was the idea — a blues opera. I wrote the opera to be in three parts, and the other side was supposed to be designed for the fans that Z.Z. already had. I wasn’t crazy enough to jump out there — like, “Fats Domino at the Met,” I wasn’t gonna do no shit like that. The way we edited the opera, for singles, his audience went crazy. They loved it.
You’ve always been ahead of your time, and such an innovator, Jerry.
It embarrasses me when people say shit like that. Other people have said it like that, and there are so many other producers and writers I that I envy and admire, and who I feel are so much better than I am. I don’t take myself real seriously, although I’m very serious when I write and produce.
Tell us about your 1981 Nashville-recorded country album, which is legendary.
It’s on The Excellent Sides of Swamp Dogg, Vol. 5. Steve Popovich was over at Mercury Nashville. He and I had been friends since the ’60s. I had this idea of an outrageous black country singer, with the cape and all of that shit. It was close to what maybe Little Richard would’ve done, or did. But mine was gonna be purely country. I got to Nashville, and cut it, because, at that time, if it wasn’t cut in Nashville, it wasn’t country. I went into the studio there and cut it. When I got back to Mercury with it, my man Steve was goin’ crazy. But then all of a sudden, it cooled. It was right around the time those old boys had “Elmira.” What was the name of the group?
You mean “Elvira”? The Oak Ridge Boys.
Yeah, “Elvira.” They were hotter than cayenne pepper. Whoever was at the top, over Steve, they were, like, afraid to fuck with it, although they had given the go-ahead at first. Like any of us, we say, “Yeah,” and on the way home, you start thinkin’ about that. You say, “Shit, I can’t do no shit like that.” So I understood it, you know.
I love your song, “Understanding California Women,” about a guy who takes up with a kind of new-age woman. How did you write that?
I looked at it as what I had seen happen out here in California. Guys would meet a woman, and she’s got the means and the money and everything, and they’d take him in. They’d carry the guy home — hey, he’s living good. But she wouldn’t give him no money, you know, and then, one day, it was over, and he didn’t have shit. I guess she let him take the clothes.
You also worked with Esther Phillips on a song titled “The Love We Got Ain’t Worth Two Dead Flies.” What was that like?
When I went with Takoma Records, I wanted to do a female thing with somebody, whoever was available, who had a name. So when she met me, she said, “I done heard about you, Swamp Dogg. I know you’re clean and you don’t do this, and you don’t do that. But I do, and you better go get me some.”

SPIN (national music magazine) – SPIN senior editor David Marchese’s fantastic artist profile on Swamp Dogg, including interviews, exclusive photos, video and accompanying gallery of Swamp Dogg’s best/craziest album covers.
Tha Real Mother****ing Doggfather
by David Marchese

Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams is a cult hero with a painful history who’s responsible for some of the most unique rock-influenced R&B (and weirdest album covers) ever made. And he also happens to be a pioneering indie mini-mogul. DAVID MARCHESE traveled to Southern California to get down to business with Swamp.

Jerry Williams, Jr. would rather be writing a song than wasting his time trying to wrangle a dumb-love mistake. “That’s the intention most motherfucking mornings,” he says in a reedy southern accent as he stands in the doorway of his six-bedroom San Fernando Valley bungalow. “Then some shit happens.” “Shit” is a car that he wants back. “Two-seater 370Z, I don’t know — said she’d have it for me this morning.” “She” is a mistake.

Williams, 70, is 5-foot-5-inches tall, with a round belly and trim mustache. On this cloudy California day in early February, he’s wearing a tan leather baseball cap, large eyeglasses, a gray button-down shirt, crisp cargo pants, and perfect white Nikes. “I don’t know how to go about getting that motherfucking car,” he says matter-of-factly, and then chuckles and strolls down the hall toward his office. Williams has a perpetually playful, expectant air about him, as if he’s told the world a joke and isn’t sure if anyone’s heard it. “You with the police?” he teases. “They the only ones ever looking for me.”

We pass a wall adorned with commemorative gold and platinum records: DMX’s Grand Champ, Kid Rock’s Devil Without a Cause, Swamp Dogg’s Total Destruction to Your Mind. I linger on the latter: Released 1970, the placard reads, certified gold 1992. “Took its sweet motherfucking time,” says Williams, whom everyone calls Swamp. The Los Angeles-based Alive Naturalsound label, which released the Black Keys’ debut, is reissuing Total Destruction to Your Mind on March 5. The album has a habit of falling out of print.

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

Swamp lives alone here in this big, dark, tidy house, though this weekend he’s taking care of his granddaughter’s yapping pooch. A vintage Wurlitzer jukebox sits in his living room, loaded solely with his own productions and compositions. I peek into his home studio and see framed Swamp Dogg album covers forming a funky bunting above the instruments and recording gear: There’s Swamp, riding a white rat (1971’s Rat On), looking out from a crumpled photo sitting on a heap of trash (1973’s Gag a Maggot), wearing a white top hat and tails and dancing on a boardroom table (1981’s I’m Not Selling Out / I’m Buying In!). A backyard pool is visible through his studio windows.

Swamp’s affluence is itself a creative project. His most recent, all-new effort, 2009’s An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year, the cover of which shows the singer in shorts, as his covers often do, sold 100 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. Careful with that number, though — the company doesn’t officially stand by sales totals that can’t be rounded up to 1,000. (Swamp’s biggest-selling album of the SoundScan era, which began in 1991, is a compilation called Excellent Sides of Swamp Dogg, Vol. 2. It sold 3,000 copies.)

See SPIN’s gallery of Swamp Dogg’s 11 wildest album covers.

Alternative revenue streams, self-financing, licensing strategies, distribution models. This is the jargon of the musical economy in the digital era, reflecting the harsh realities bemoaned by befuddled indie and major-label artistes alike. Or as the ever-entrepreneurial Swamp understands it, “A bunch of old shit with new names I been doing forever.”

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

Standing behind his office desk, he puts the phone on speaker and starts to dial. “I can’t even drive stick-shift,” he quips, thinking about the car. “But I still want the motherfucker back.” Based on frequency, “motherfucker” is Swamp’s favorite exclamation, and he pronounces it with impressive variety: MUTHAfucker, muhfuh, motherFUCKER, and myriad other ways impossible to do justice with italics and caps.

One wall of the bright, cluttered office is dominated by shelves holding an eclectic vinyl collection — Funkadelic, Emmylou Harris, The Elephant Man score, all the Swamp Dogg LPs. CD towers holding newer music — Tupac, Faith No More — stand on the floor. On the bookshelf opposite the vinyl are some tools: a rhyming dictionary, unabridged Webster’s dictionary, and a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. (Swamp has written more than 2,000 songs, and owns the publishing to hundreds more.) A dry-erase board leans against the shelving unit; categories are written at the top of columns: Artist Roster, Friends, Need Songs, Distribution/Licenses, Projects. Each column is filled with names. With the possible exception of retro-soul spitfire Sharon Jones, none would be familiar to the casual music fan. A framed photo of Swamp’s first wife and former business manager, Yvonne, is by the chunky old computer monitor.

An automated voice answers the phone and requests information. Swamp punches in an ID number, then mutters to himself with the puzzling-out tone of someone verbally solving a math problem, “If I can get till Tuesday, then I can wait for…” He hits zero to speak with a loan agent. The phone rings again. “You wanted to observe me. This is what I do,” he says to me in mock apology, “You thought I was a musician or something?”

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

He is that, of course, and the Swamp Dogg catalog entails one of R&B’s most deliriously idiosyncratic and independent trips. But as a producer, publisher, manager, and impresario of the pop-music margins — with a cottage industry as a cult hero — he’s also a model for how to make a living in the music business in 2013. Well, he’s an idea for a model anyway.

A woman’s voice comes over the speaker: “How can we help you with your loan today?”

“Noooow,” Swamp says, stretching the syllable like taffy, “how do I go about getting an extension?”

Easily, it seems. Extension procured, he’s on to the next task, and dials another number.

“Hey Swamp,” I ask, “did you ever…”

“Twice,” he says, without looking up, “but I don’t fuck with those kind of girls no more.” The phone is ringing on the other end. “I get caught in shit that would make the average motherfucker jump out a window. But it works out. Example: I needed till Tuesday for that loan; they gave me two weeks.”

The phone stops ringing. Voicemail.

“I would really like to have my car back today,” says Swamp. “Now, you promised that I would have it. You texted me at three or four o’clock this morning. I can understand you being tired or something, but let’s just sever all this relationship, and please give me back my motherfucking car.”

He ends the call and sits in the roller chair behind his desk. “All right, you can ask whatever you want,” he says. “You do your job, and I’ll go about my business.”

Since he released his first record, “HTD Blues,” as a 12-year-old in 1954, Swamp Dogg’s business has been music. (“Got my union card at 10,” he says.) He sang in the clubs and cabarets of Portsmouth, Virginia, where his father was a chief petty officer for the Navy and his mom was a singer. She still performs, as Vera Lee — 93 and managed by Swamp, who left for New York in his early 20s and bopped between floors of the Brill Building, selling songs while still releasing self-deprecating ballads and Fats Domino-indebted boogie as Little Jerry Williams. He took on A&R gigs and wrote, arranged, and produced for familiar names (Patti Labelle, Gene Pitney) and phantoms (C & and the Shells, the Suburbans). “I can sing fine,” he says, underselling himself — he’s got a wry steam whistle shout — “and I can play keyboard good” (especially joyous piano triplets), “but I will put myself up against any motherfucker when it comes to writing songs.” His “baby” in that regard is “She’s All I Got,” a jaunty country weeper that Johnny Paycheck took to No. 2 on the country charts in 1971. The hit earned Swamp an invitation to the Grammy Awards. “Security made me go in the kitchen because they thought I was a waiter, all dressed up in a suit and shit,” he says. I learn quickly that his triumphs often have twists.

In 1968, Swamp was hired as the first black staff producer at Atlantic Records. The result, he says, of tokenism forced on the label by the NAACP. “[Atlantic] didn’t give me shit to do,” he offers without animosity. “And when I complained and told them I wanted to leave, they said, ‘Just draw your money and shut the fuck up.'” As Swamp sits at his desk and talks, he also checks e-mail and texts, receives faxes, and takes calls via Bluetooth earpiece.

“I wasn’t a corporate guy,” he continues. “Example: I never seen anybody get so excited about having a key to the executive restroom as those motherfuckers at Atlantic. You’d think some motherfucker got the crown jewels of England when he got his own restroom key. You could be cuttin’ Aretha Franklin and some motherfucker would come in and say, ‘Who got my restroom key?!'”

After getting fired from Atlantic in 1969 for, as he tells it, spending too much money on a Gary U.S. Bonds recording session, he returned to freelance production and songwriting. At a party around that time he drank punch laced with LSD. He willingly tried it again a few more times and “opened up a can of mental worms.” Suddenly, the Sly Stone and Frank Zappa records he loved were speaking a new language. The worms began to wriggle. “I realized Jerry Williams needed an alter ego,” says Swamp. “Jerry Williams the performer was not prepared to say and do the things that I wanted to do. I’d gone as far as I could go singing love songs. There were other artists that was better looking, taller, had more sex appeal than me. So what the fuck I’m gonna stay in the mix for? I had to try something else.”

He slid down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to record with that town’s famous studio musicians, the Swampers, industry-famous for adding rhythmic grease and guitar grit to records by Wilson Pickett, Etta James, and others. Wally Roker of Canyon Records agreed to release the output and suggested the name Swamp Dog on account of the backing players. “I liked the ‘Dog’ part,” remembers Swamp. “A dog can shit on your rug, do anything, and you still like him. I just said, ‘put two g’s on that motherfucker.’ Now I had my own category. Now motherfuckers hadda compare themselves to me.”

Good luck. Total Destruction to Your Mind, the first Swamp Dogg album, begins with the title track, wherein Williams, winking at the Beatles, sings about sitting on a cornflake riding on a rollerskate as his voice is surrounded by curling guitars and blammo horns and the music keeps freaking out from there. He prophesizes a post-bomb wasteland where kids have never known rain or rock’n’roll. Psychedelic music blows his mind, so his patience grows thin with the synthetic world we’re living in. He laments being born blue instead of orange-skinned and green-haired like everyone else. He razzes rednecks. He pitches snake oil called “Sal-a-Faster.” He wonders about mama’s baby and daddy’s maybe. His voice is boisterous, jovial, quizzical; his melodies sly and punchy. The music — given perfect shape by its craftsman’s hand — suggests a quirky avenue that black music might’ve pursued if funk hadn’t fomented instead. And it came packaged with a cover that showed Swamp sitting in shorts on a garbage truck, wearing a graduation cap.

“It’s real gritty shit,” says Kid Rock, a Swamp fan and unintentional patron, “It has a wild attitude. A lot of old soul is straightforward — I love it, but funk is usually weirder. Swamp Dogg had the craziness you expect from funk, but put to soul and R&B.” Total Destruction to Your Mind created a musically and mentally uninhibited template for the more than 20 Swamp Dogg albums that would follow. It also set another precedent: It sunk.

But not without making some ripples over the years. “I heard ‘Total Destruction to Your Mind’ on underground rock radio and I thought, ‘This is really interesting,'” recalls Cliff Burnstein, longtime co-manager of Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and himself a legendary music-biz swami. “Swamp was an R&B guy with a great sense of humor even when he was doing complete diatribes. It was indelible.”

No other Swamp Dogg album has gone gold or platinum. His second LP, Rat On!, came out on the rock-centric Elektra label in 1971, the same year Swamp played a few shows with Jane Fonda’s Free the Army anti-Vietnam War tour, an activity he claims landed him on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. (Swamp’s politics are hard to parse; he’s credited Ronald Reagan for inspiring his creativity but wrote an anti-George W. Bush tract called “They Crowned an Idiot King.”) The aforementioned album’s songs are still winking and popping, with more explicit screeds — the oddly stirring “God Bless America, for What” — and conceptual coups (the Bee Gees’ “Got to Get a Message to You” as churchly epic).

Didn’t matter. Rat On! sold less than its predecessor, and by 1973, Swamp was singing about his “Buzzard Luck.” On that song’s B-side, “Ebony & Jet,” he argued that his career was nothing till he got on the cover of those magazines. The desired press was not forthcoming.

But rather than bemoan his failures — money was still rolling in from production and songwriting — he adopted an underdog shtick that he’s never abandoned. (1989’s I Asked for a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock is exemplary in that regard.)

“It didn’t surprise me that my albums didn’t sell nothing,” says Swamp of the old days, “because the motherfuckers told me they didn’t like ’em. No one ever lied to me. I’m singing songs called ‘Call Me Nigger’ that’s got banjo on it.” Swamp really likes the banjo. “I get why that’s confusing. I thought it was funny.”

Swamp Dogg in the studio, 1971 / Photo Courtesy of Alive NaturalsoundSwamp Dogg in the studio, 1971 / Photo Courtesy of Alive Naturalsound

Paradoxically, Swamp’s musical singularity means he hasn’t had much, if any, influence on contemporary R&B; but his determination not to dilute his personality could be seen as a precursor to the uncompromising individuality of Frank Ocean and the Weeknd, who are now free to serve up their unadulterated them-ness via albums, singles, videos, tweets, and Tumblr. By comparison, Swamp had unreceptive radio and album sleeves (he loaded them with in-jokes and avuncular invective).

“The system in those days was so haphazard,” explains Burnstein, who started out as a promo man. “A small label like Canyon had no one like me calling up the stations. Elektra and Island (the label for Swamp’s 1974 LP Have You Heard This Story??) were rock-oriented. If Swamp got played, it was probably due to luck. Rock was always so serious, and he had this predilection for album covers that showed him sitting on things wearing shorts with his legs splayed. The only world he could fit into was the one for him and the tiny handful of weirdos who liked him.”

His reluctance to tour was another problem, born of agoraphobia and studiophilia. “I didn’t get my name out there,” he says. “Not touring is the dumbest thing I ever did.” It didn’t seem so at the time. Even though his own albums couldn’t get much of a sniff, Swamp lucratively labored away writing and producing precisely arranged, emotionally raw sides for, among others, Irma Thomas, Ruth Brown, Z.Z. Hill, Freddie North, and Doris Duke (if you don’t hear her Swamp-helmed I’m a Loser, you are one). “I’d have a budget of $25,000,” he says, “and cut the records for five. I had all that songwriting money. I was a rich motherfucker.”

He bought a mansion in Hempstead, Long Island, and a Mercedes limo, Rolls Royce, Cadillac Eldorado, and two-seater plane to go with it. He frequented his favorite jewelers. “Germano and Gerardi in New York City,” he says, savoring the memory. “They made the most beautiful shit.”

To celebrate finishing a session Swamp sometimes hosted “smokers” — the kind of parties you either don’t remember or can’t forget. “We went down on Broadway and made deals with three hookers to come,” he recalls about a night that still lingers. “We said, ‘Don’t ask nobody for no money. At the end of the night, we’ll tally up. I want y’all with just little skimpy towels on and your breasts out so people know why you there.'” He gives a rueful grin. “They was fucking everybody — except me. My wife said I could have the party, ‘but you ain’t touchin’ those bitches.’ Motherfuckers were lined up. Don Covay, the singer, who had a 35-inch dick, he’s standing there with his pants down and this one hooker, she says, ‘Wait a minute, I can’t take all you people.’ Don took that as a racial remark and started screaming and shit. I had to give her extra money.”

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

Such extravagance, explains an unrepentant Swamp, is why he didn’t get to keep the mansion, cars, or aircraft. “My favorite food is hot dogs and all of a sudden I was convinced I only wanted filet mignon. Money is a motherfucker, and it goes a lot quicker than it comes.” He went broke for the first time in 1974. “Best day of my life,” he reckons. “No more obligations.”

Changing tastes were harder to surmount. 1980’s Doing a Party Tonite, released not long after he moved to California, found Swamp in an ill-suited disco setting. He also found himself aging out of a certain kind of relevance. “If you’re black,” he reasons, “when you hit middle-age, they call you a ‘blues man’ and that’s not what I was. I don’t care if you’re singing arias. If Pavarotti’d been black, he’d have to be called Blind Pavarotti and put out blues albums.” Eventually, his own label, SDEG (Swamp Dogg Entertainment Group), became the first priority — he’d evolved into a fully “indie” musician before that signaled anything other than a major-label red flag. His job expectations have adjusted accordingly. “I’m grateful to be as busy as I am,” he says, adding, “but I would like to do one more record — I don’t care if it’s a sample like DMX — that sells a million. Or all I need is one hit with one of them rock acts and the motherfucking floodgates will open.”

Outside a small circle of obsessives, Swamp exists, at best, as a fond recollection from an effervescent time. “I believe I do remember Swamp Dogg,” says William King, who at Swamp’s behest drove up to New York City from Tuskegee, Alabama, with Lionel Richie and the rest of the Commodores in 1969. “He invited us to record with him. He wore green shoes, green pants, green suit. He even had a green hat with a green feather. It was an exciting time, man.” They cut four songs, fast, and King never heard from Swamp again. “We heard he died in a boat somewhere; that he was fishing and he drowned. I kept thinking of that green suit falling off some dinky canoe and that green hat just floatin’ on down the way. I never did hear those songs till I bought a bootleg Commodores tape in Hong Kong years later.”

A legitimate collection of those recordings is easily available. It’s called Rise Up, and it’s on SDEG.

Swamp and I are riding in his silver Chrysler 300 on the day after our initial meeting. He needs to go to the bank so he can send a money transfer. We roll down wide boulevards, passing tall skinny pines and landscapers mowing lawns. Swamp presses play on an unreleased CD of buoyant blue-eyed soul by an English band called Little Big Man. “Worked with them in ’74,” he says. “I’m gonna put this out later this year: From Manchester to Muscle Shoals.”

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

Swamp had mentioned messing with a memoir, so I ask if he can share a story.

“What kind of story?”
“Just one you haven’t told anyone else.”
“Oh yeah, I got a few of those.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“When I was about 11,” he says amiably, “I was raped by a motherfucker.”
“Are you kidding me?!”
“Who kids about rape?”

Swamp turns the volume back up. I don’t know what to say. I see a CD case in the cupholder between our seats: Mama Don’t Take No S*** by Mikelle Morgan, released on SDEG last year. “How’s this?” I ask.

“It’s a motherfucker. Sold 33.”

“Did the thing you said before screw you up?”

“Maybe subconsciously. Guy’s name was Black Bobbie. He used to hang around the YMCA near where I lived in Portsmouth. He caught me leaving there one day and pulled me into the bushes. Put a little pocketknife to my throat. Told me he’d kill me if I said anything to anyone.

“Listen to this,” he says, raising the volume as Little Big Man’s guitarist plays a twisty solo. “They was some motherfuckers.”

He points out a boxy, meandering estate. “Dr. Dre used to live there.” Swamp briefly managed Dre in the early ’80s. “The only thing I understood about his music was that people wanted to hear it.”

“Do you think maybe your agoraphobia was related to that other thing we were talking about?”

“Could very well be,” he says, pulling into a strip-mall parking lot. I don’t walk around thinking about it.”

The bank is closed. “Ain’t that a bitch,” says Swamp nonchalantly. “You hungry? You wanna go to the Cheesecake Factory?”

Swamp is, and always has been, open to a good offer: On the wall of his guest bathroom is a gold record commemorating “Salty Dog,” a song he wrote for a Suntory whiskey campaign for Japanese TV. He made $5,000 when he was asked to do the music for 1991’s Ted & Venus, a little-known film written by and starring Harold & Maude’s Bud Cort. “We were looking at using a Marvin Gaye song,” says Cort. “It would have cost $50,000 — which was way more than our total music budget.” His co-producer had heard about Swamp Dogg, so they cut a deal. “He knocked it out of the park,” says Cort. Warlocks, a subsidiary of SDEG (yep, SDEG has subsidiaries) released the soundtrack. “They did?” says Cort. They did.

Swamp cuts licensing deals for his vast collection of copyrights, and the songs he owns have appeared in everything from Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan to Pimp My Ride. Swamp Dogg albums are streaming on Spotify and available as downloads on iTunes and his official website, The Swamp Dogg Times.

He’s largely overcome his social anxiety and now plays live with some regularity. Swamp does well in Europe and is especially popular in Trinidad, where he claims he gets “Al Green money.” He manages acts, too. “I could go out right now and find you a rapper,” he boasts. In 1991, MC Breed had a minor hit with “Ain’t No Future In Yo’ Frontin'” for SDEG.

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

“I raised five daughters,” says Swamp, whose youngest girl is a neurologist. “I had to get busy. I wasn’t carrying on about success or no success. That’s why it’s better to be your own boss. I can have a plan and do it, and I know that if I fuck up, I’m the only one to blame. If I go along with your plan, and you fuck up, what did I learn?”

He’s assiduous about keeping on top of his samples, though he’s not as tenacious as Yvonne used to be. “I got a call crazy fast, like the week after the track came out, asking for a credit,” says DJ Hi-Tek, who used a snatch of Swamp on “Move Somethin’,” a 2000 single he produced for Talib Kweli. “His wife did the negotiating. I don’t know how they heard it that fast. She was tough — ended up with 50 percent of my publishing.”

“I remember catching wind that negotiations got nasty,” says Kid Rock about clearing his sample of Swamp’s stirring “Slow Slow Disco” on Devil Without a Cause’s “I Got One for Ya” (hence the platinum disc on Swamp’s wall). “His wife was being old-school gangster about the whole thing. But fuck it, I’m glad I could put some money in the guy’s pocket.”

Yvonne died in 2003. She and Swamp had met in Philadelphia in 1963 when she was a singer and he was doing occasional A&R for that city’s V-Tone records. For most of their time together, Yvonne was Swamp’s business manager. Ten years ago, shares Swamp cryptically, cancer compelled her “to take care of business someplace else.” He remarried in 2006, to a doctor who lives in San Jose, and they’re “working towards keeping the future bright.”

Even without Yvonne, Swamp is quick to seize an opportunity. In late 2012, Patrick Boissel, the laconic Frenchman who runs Alive Naturalsound, called Swamp Dogg to inquire about licensing the song “Total Destruction to Your Mind” for blues-rocker Lee Bains III. They hit it off and cut a deal to reissue — in addition to Total Destruction — Rat On! and Gag a Maggot, as well as albums that Swamp produced for singers Irma Thomas, Raw Spitt, Wolfmoon, and bluesman Lightnin’ Slim. “It’s really quite punk rock how he does his business,” says Boissel. “It’s, ‘This is what we can do, this is what it will cost to do it.’ No extra bullshit.” Boissel has set up Swamp to produce another of “them” rock bands, Philly’s John the Conqueror.

“[Swamp’s] got all these revenue sources,” says Burnstein, who knows a thing or three about developing musicians’ careers. “He also writes, records, produces, plays. If I had a talent, I’d do what he does. Put it all together and it adds up to a pretty decent life.”

Swamp sits behind the keys at his white baby-grand piano on a sunny Sunday morning, ready to do what he was put here to do. He and a bassist, drummer, guitarist, and keyboardist are in his studio, running through a new song intended for an upcoming album. He’s been thinking about titles: Either Leroy Kardashian: Formerly Known as Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams or Swamp Dogg the Beast.

“I wanna get lowdown on this motherfucker,” he tells the band. The song is called “If That Ain’t the Blues What Is?” Swamp pumps out a rich gospel chord progression on the piano and sings a strutting melody about the bullshitters in Congress. His voice is bright and strong. His shoulders shimmy and roll. He bounces on the piano bench.

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

The other musicians are confused. “Is there a grace note in there? What beat is the verse landing on?” asks the keyboardist, who resembles David Letterman and never removes his sunglasses. “Are we going ten bars or 12?” They try again, Swamp again belting beautifully, and again he loses his backers. The bassist, nose-tackle big and wearing a Cosby sweater, leans forward and says, “You gotta tell us what you’re gonna do.”

“You sayin’ that like I know!” cracks Swamp.

“Write this down,” says the bassist, smiling, “Swamp’s what you call an eccentric musician.”

They keep trying for another half hour, then take a break. The boss orders everyone chicken wings and pizza from Domino’s. The musicians retire to the kitchen and turn on the Lakers game.

Photo by Elizabeth WeinbergPhoto by Elizabeth Weinberg

Swamp ducks into his office to look for a fax that he’d misplaced — he’s being sued by a recurring pest who says he’s due a piece of Jackson 5 & Johnny: Beginning Years 1967-1968, a compilation of pre-fame recordings by Michael, Jermaine, Randy, Tito, Marlon, and a non-blood “cousin,” to which Swamp owns the rights. “This motherfucker sues me every time he thinks I’m making some money,” explains Swamp. “He’s in Indiana, man. They some backward-ass folks over there.” He finds the fax in a pile of papers and looks down his nose. “Oh, this ain’t nothing to worry about.'”

We can hear the musicians in the kitchen; they’re mercilessly heckling Dwight Howard. “I pride myself on paying my sidemen well,” declares Swamp, reading through text messages. He makes a lemon-sucking face. Shit. It’s the car. “The insurance hasn’t been paid, it don’t start, and the rear bumper fell off.” He gives a why me? shrug, then rises to rejoin the band. “Let’s go get to work,” he says gleefully. “Let’s go do the motherfucker.”

Giant Rats! Human Hot Dogs! Boxer Shorts! Swamp Dogg’s 11 Craziest Album Covers

The weirdest images from five decades of total destruction
by Colin Joyce

Since his 1970 debut, Total Destruction to Your Mind, R&B cult hero and SPIN profile subject Swamp Dogg has been responsible for some of music’s most outlandish and just plain weirdest album covers. These are the 11 you must see, with commentary from the man himself.

#1 ‘Total Destruction to Your Mind’ (1970)
“I lived like three blocks from LaGuardia airport at that time and [Willis Hogans Jr., the photographer, and I] went out and took some pictures. People talk about the washed out color, but that was because the guy that I was using for my album covers was, by profession, a police photographer. All [the photos] he shot were mug shots! I guess [the cover] looked great to him.”

#2 ‘Rat On!’ (1971)
“By the time I got to Rat On!, I figured out who Swamp Dogg was but I put [him] on a higher plane than he really deserved. I felt that the black man was arriving and was closer to being at his destination than he was. The black man finally is on top. The rat is smiling because in his mind he knows that the black man does not have enough savvy, education, and stick-togetherness to stay on top.”

#3 ‘Have You Heard This Story??’ (1974)
“Other than wanting to take a picture in my drawers and undershirt and a hat that I got from my father after he passed away, I don’t know if there was any big idea. I have a book called I’m OK, You’re OK sitting out there. That was like the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time. I’m speaking of popularity, not of content. It was all about what I was going through mentally. It’s about Swamp Dogg trying to get his mind back.”

#4’I’m Not Sellin’ Out / I’m Buyin’ In!’ (1981)
“That’s when I got tired of fighting the establishment and decided to become part of the establishment. In my songs I basically was fighting for the black man. I was trying to educate the black man. I was trying to make the black man rise up. I put myself on the table to show that I had picked up enough to join in with society as we know it. It’s time to make a living.”

#5’The Best of Swamp Dogg: 13 Prime Weiners, Everything on It!’ (1982)
‘[Photographer] Willis Hogans Jr. and I got together and did that. I just wanted to be inside a hotdog bun, and whatever my next album was going to be that’s what I was going to do. When the guys decided they were going to call it 13 Prime Weiners, that fit me just right. If you look closely you will see that we didn’t quite line up the legs as well as we could’ve lined them up.”

#6 ‘Swamp Dogg’ (1982)
“I let another company put that out, Ala Records. They did that cover and I hated it! I still do. I was going to sue ’em and my wife said, ‘You know, when they walk into court with all of your albums and show the judge what kind of shit you’ve been putting out, he may lock you up for wasting his time.'”

#7 ‘Surfin’ in Harlem’ (1991)
“The last place you can surf is in Harlem. Nevertheless when they open up all of those fire hydrants during the summer, that’s about as much surfing as you’re going to get. It was about how ridiculous life has become. It has become about as ridiculous as wanting to go surfing in Harlem.”

#8 ‘The Re-invention of Swamp Dogg’ (2001)
“I was trying to set up a thing that it would be Frankenstein being operated on. I couldn’t get ahold of an operating room or a doctor’s office where they’d let me do this. We put some shit together in my living room. I wanted my wife on the cover and so there are two girls on there. The prettier one is my wife!”

#9 ‘If I Ever Can Kiss It… Kiss It Goodbye’ (2002)
“That was my attempt to hit the Southern Soul market and to be very sexually dirty. That’s the type of songs on that record. It’s about being sexually edgy and having a lot of fun. All those lips and tongues and shit are mine. I came up with that idea from Mick Jagger. I can always see those big ol’ lips. So I had my lips and tongue all over the motherfucker.”

#10 ‘The Resurrection of Swamp Dogg’ (2007)
“Jesus Christ had all these people around him that supposedly had his back and one or two of them got together for a few pieces of silver and had his ass nailed to a cross. You can’t trust nobody. Well if you look at the cap it says ‘Witness Protection Program.’  The Witness Protection Program is supposed to be top notch, but of course we know better. You watch TV and you see what happens to witnesses under protection.”

#11 ‘An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year’ (2009)
“I had on my drawers and my wifebeater. I picked up my attaché case to bring it back to my office. My partner took four or five shots. My graphic people got rid of all of the equipment and chairs and put me in the middle of a burned down house. If you stand in the middle of your house and it’s a big ol’ cinder, that’s an awful Christmas. And there’s no way you’re going to have it back up by New Year’s. That’s an even lousier New Year’s.”

ROLLING STONE (national music magazine) – Positive 4 STAR REVIEW of Total Destruction To Your Mind! (PRINT ONLY)

SOUND + VISION MAGAZINE (online music site) – Positive review with album art.
Swamp Dogg: Total Destruction to Your Mind; Rat On!
Reissues (Alive Naturalsound)
Search the Web for words to describe this cult-legend soul man and you’ll find everything from simply “odd” and “eccentric” to blatantly “gonzo” and “mad.” Heard today, however, in the midst of the turgid technology that often tries to pass for R&B, these two albums sound completely normal — and positively thrilling, as if we’d just found a couple of prime unreleased Sly Stone albums hidden in a closet. Jerry Williams, Jr., began his career as Little Jerry in 1954. Total Destruction to Your Mind, his debut album as Swamp Dogg, was released in 1970, followed by Rat On! a year later. There are interesting covers (Bobby Goldsboro’s “The World Beyond,” the Bee Gees’ “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”), but the originals (some co-written with Gary “U.S.” Bonds) are the bee’s knees, delving into politics on every level: social, personal, sexual.
Total Destruction is the more energetic of the two; Rat On! is ballad-heavy but has more-developed songs. Both are a blast, charged by the Dogg’s zealous vocals. Freshly remastered, the albums are being issued on vinyl for the first time since their original release, and they’re also available on CD. Either way, it’s a kick to hear the era’s wide-separation stereo mixes. You think Swamp Dogg is Out There? I say he’s resolutely down-to-earth.,2

ROCK STAR JOURNALIST (online music site) – Postive review with album art.
Swamp Dogg reissues out today from Alive Naturalsound; download two free tracks
Legendary psychedelic soul bluesman Swamp Dogg‘s first two albums, Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On! see reissue today via Alive Naturalsound. I’ve had a chance to listen to both, and they sound amazing. They’ve still got that swamp funk to them, but the remastering job is just absolutely stellar. For those used to vinyl rips and bootleg CDs, these brand-new LP reissues (and first-time official CD releases) will blow your mind.
Hopefully, this will lead to a new generation of folks getting into this somewhat lost musician. While Swamp Dogg’s songs have been covered by the likes of Galactic, it don’t mean shit to be known if folks can’t get your music. Now that’s the case. Both LPs are available from the Bomp! store. Check out two tracks from the reissues below.
TRI-STATE INDIE (Philly-based music site) – News post from press release with album art.
Swamp Dogg Remastered
Posted by Harrison Brink in Daily Fix

Maverick soul artist Swamp Dogg (aka Jerry Williams) has been described as the “soul genius that time forgot,” and “a strange combination of Sly Stone’s progressive funk with Frank Zappa’s lyrical absurdism.” In the ’70s he even made the famed Nixon’s Enemies List.
Alive Naturalsound Records is proud to bring you Swamp Dogg’s first two albums, newly remastered and re-released for the very first time on vinyl since their original release in the early ’70s. Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970), has been called “one of the most gloriously gonzo soul recordings of all time,” while Rat On! (1971) was ranked as having one of the top ten worst album covers of all time, an achievement that Swamp Dogg is rightfully proud of to this day.
The two remastered reissues of Swamp Dogg’s early ’70s albums Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! are available now. In addition to CD and Black Vinyl, there will also be a very limited pressing of Colored Vinyl for both albums exclusive to mailorders through Bomp!

BLURT (national music magazine) – Positive 8/10 album reviews
SWAMP DOGG Rat On! + Total Destruction To Your Mind
(Alive Natural Sound)

The world of soul, funk and R&B is heavily populated with major characters and outsize personalities, which is hardly surprising: they are entertainers, after all. Popular music is also one of the few realms where eccentric behavior can be celebrated as opposed to shunned. Yesterday’s high school outcast or town weirdo can be tomorrow’s chart topper or night club headliner, given the right set of circumstances.

R&B and funk seems to be particularly populated with willful eccentrics and those whose fires burn especially bright. Think Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Andre Williams, Blowfly, Sly Stone, George Clinton, Rufus Thomas and yea, you also better think Jerry Williams, Jr, aka Swamp Dogg. Alive Natural Sound is set to release Dogg’s first two full length classics, Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! (1971); he previously recorded some sides under the name his parents called him growing up. Dogg is a first class character, from the whack cover art on his records, to his hilariously surreal and self congratulatory liner notes to his all-over-the-place lyrical musings. Fortunately the man has substance, not just personality, and both of these are red hot platters of burning Southern Soul.

Both discs were recorded at a high water mark for Southern Soul, Total Destruction…at Capricorn Studios in Macon, GA, and Rat On! at Quinvy Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL. And both use the world class musicians available in those studios, including drummers Johnny Sandlin and Jaspur Guarino, bass player Robert Popwell, guitarist Jesse Carr, keyboard player Paul Hornsby and various horn players and back up singers. These cats lay down a swampy soul groove to equal most anything at the time, all bathed in the wondrously warm analog sound of the era. Swamp Dogg wrote or co-wrote most of the material, produced and arranged everything, plays piano and “everything else of any importance” as he so modestly puts it. And of course he sings it all in his strong, Southern dipped voice, comfortable in the mid and especially higher registers.

Williams/Dogg’s outsized personality infuses most everything with a touch of the surreal, from the see-it-to-believe-it photo on the cover of Total Destruction… to the cheeky liner notes (he name checks Gene Autry, Moms Mabley, Phil Walden, Snow White, Jerry Wexler and Wally Roker in one sentence), and then on to the music, even the straight up soul numbers. How about we just lay a few song titles out there? We’ve got “Dust Your Head Color Red,” “Sal-A-Faster,” “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe,” “Redneck” (by Joe South), “Synthetic World,” “Total Destruction To Your Mind” and six others from the first record, and “Predicament #2,” “That Ain’t My Wife,” “God Bless America For What,” and seven more on the more straight-ahead second. It’s important to know that these aren’t novelty songs in any way at all, and Dogg’s isn’t a jokey performer, per se: sure, some of them are funny, others are topically pissed off, but most are straight up soul numbers that could have been on the radio at the time. He may be a bit off-the-wall, but there’s always an underlying sense of integrity to what he’s doing, at least as far as  these two releases goes.

Most importantly, they really are great songs, from start to finish on both records. Check “Total Destruction…,” “Remember, I Said Tomorrow,” “Creeping Away,” “Mama’s Baby, “Daddy’s Maybe,” “Do You Believe,” “Do Our Thing Together,” and really just about anything here and you’ll find the vi/ntage goods, sounding as good today as they the day they were laid down.

DOWNLOAD: “Total Destruction To Your Mind,” “Synthetic World,” “Redneck,” “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe” from TDTYM; “Creeping Away,” “God Bless America For What,” “Remember, I Said Tomorrow” and “Do You Believe” from Rat On!   –CARL HANNI
FYI, Dogg is still kicking it. There’s a nice NPR piece here:

WRAT RADIO  (NJ Rock station) – Interview with Swamp and Keith Roth for Keith’s Electric Ballroom show to air on Sun. March 3rd at 10pm EST. (After the airing Keith said, “great great response last night.”)

HYPERBOLIUM (online music blog) – In-store preview
Swamp Dogg in Person!
Those of you in the Los Angeles area have the opportunity to meet the infamous Swamp Dogg, promoting the upcoming reissue of his first two albums, Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On! He’ll be appearing at Freakbeat Records (13616 Ventura Boulevard in beautiful Sherman Oaks, California) on Sunday, March 3rd from 1-2:30pm.

Swamp Dogg in Person!

THE STASH DAUBER (online music blog) – Positive album review.
Swamp Dogg’s “Total Destruction To Your Mind” and “Rat On!”
The classic sound of ’60s and ’70s soul refuses to die. In recent years, the Brooklyn-based Daptone label has introduced monster talents like Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, and Charles Bradley to the public consciousness, while Patrick Boissel’s Alive Naturalsound, once known for its reissues of Detroit ramalama and the first couple of Black Keys sides, has brought us latter-day wonderment from obscuro ’60s soul men Andre Williams and Nathaniel Meyer.

Now, Alive’s reissued the first two albums by Swamp Dogg — surely the most eccentric and individuated of classic soul singers — on CD and sweet, sweet vinyl. Born Jerry Williams, Jr., in Virginia, 1942, he released records under his given name beginning in 1954, and did occasional songwriting and production for artists including Z.Z. Hill before unleashing his persona — a sly observer and social commentator, like Joe Tex gene-spliced with Frank Zappa — on the world. If you haven’t heard him, you owe it to yourself.

I remember seeing Swamp Dogg’s 1970 debut album, Total Destruction To Your Mind, with its cover depicting the artist in his underwear, when it was new and thinking, “Oh wow. A record by a crazy person” (and this was years before Wesley Willis ever contemplated a musical career). I was reminded of the title track — with its immortal opening line, “Sittin’ on a cornflake, ridin’ on a roller skate — a few years back when Eric Ambel, a fella that knows good songwriting, covered it on his Roscoe’s Gang album.

Swamp Dogg’s an impassioned shouter in the Otis Redding mold, and these two records have the extroverted energy and friendly blare of vintage Stax or Hi jams — until you listen to the lyrics. “Friendship’s like acid,” he sings over a “Like A Rolling Stone” organ in “Synthetic World”: “It burns as it slides away.” And has there ever been a paean to lust with a line as great as “If I die tomorrow, I’ve lived tonight” (from “If I Die Tomorrow”)? I think not.

Like Ray Charles, Swamp Dogg grew up listening to country music, and he likes to tell a story in song the way the best country songwriters do. (Indeed, he collaborated with Gary “U.S.” Bonds on Johnny Paycheck’s hit “She’s All I’ve Got.”) In “The Baby Is Mine,” written in an era before the phrase “baby daddy” had entered the vernacular, he sets an example of paternal responsibility that young men of today would do well to emulate: “I’m not just a father, I’m also a man / I’m going to see my child every chance that I can / And as for the woman, she’s his all alone / I’m not trying to break up that man’s home.” Then he turns around and puts the shoe on the other foot, with the bluesy cuckold’s lament “Mama’s Baby Daddy’s Maybe.”

The album’s most outrageous lyrics, however, come from the pen of Joe South, he of “Hush”/”Games People Play”/”I played with Dylan, too” fame. “Redneck” chugs along to a greasy groove, except it’s liable to break up the dance party with lines like, “But you never had much use / For all the niggers, dagos, and Jews.” As if to pour oil on the waters, Swamp Dogg also covers South’s cry for sanity “These Are Not My People.”

Rat On! was the followup, improbably released on Elektra in 1971, replete with cover art of our hero triumphantly astride a white rat. Sadly, the disgruntled social commentary of “Remember I Said Tomorrow” remains on point 40 years later: “Tomorrow we’re going to pass a law that will make everything alright…Tomorrow we’re going to bring the boys home / The end of the war is on its way…Tomorrow you’ll even have freedom of speech…” “God Bless America” takes an even more jaded view of the political scene, but ends with a heartfelt plea for coexistence.

When he’s not addressing serious topics with more humor than Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, or Norman Whitfield ever did, Swamp Dogg can even play it straight. “I Kiss Your Face” is a convincing ballad on its own terms, and Rat On’s version of “Got To Get A Message To You” is the best Bee Gees cover since Al Green took possession of “To Love Somebody.”

A decade ago, Swamp Dogg was reduced to reissuing his albums on shoddily-packaged twofer CDs, albeit on his own label. More recently, he was shilling them as Bandcamp downloads. Here’s hoping that Alive Naturalsound will go the distance and restore more of his catalog to vinyl availability. The world needs more Swamp Dogg now!

WFMU RADIO  (NJ college station) – Do You Believe from the new reissue aired on  Htch’s show on Feb. 24th.

ECLECTIBLOGS (online music site) – News post from press release.
Maverick Soul Artist
Maverick soul artist Swamp Dogg (aka Jerry Williams) has been described as the “soul genius that time forgot,” and “a strange combination of Sly Stone’s progressive funk with Frank Zappa’s lyrical absurdism.” In the ’70s he even made the famed Nixon’s Enemies List.

Alive Naturalsound Records is proud to bring you Swamp Dogg’s first two albums, newly remastered and re-released for the very first time on vinyl since their original release in the early ’70s. Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970), has been called “one of the most gloriously gonzo soul recordings of all time,” while Rat On! (1971) was ranked as having one of the top ten worst album covers of all time, an achievement that Swamp Dogg is rightfully proud of to this day.

The two remastered reissues of Swamp Dogg’s early ’70s albums Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! will be available on Black Vinyl and CD on March 5th. In addition, there will also be a very limited pressing of Colored Vinyl for both albums.

BLOG CRITICS (online music site) – Positive album  reviews with  album art .
Swamp Dogg Rising: Classic Albums by the Funky Soul Maestro Re-Released
Before there was Snoop Dogg, there was Swamp Dogg. Jerry Williams, already an experienced recording artist in his late 20s, took that moniker and launched a venturesome if part-time career as a purveyor of funky soul music. Over the years since, Williams has worked as a producer and songwriter for other artists.
With Gary “U.S.” Bonds he wrote “She’s All I Got” for Johnny Paycheck, which in 1971 reached No. 2 on the U.S. country singles chart; with Charlie Foxx he wrote “Count the Days” for Inez and Charlie Foxx (of “Mockingbird” fame; more recently he wrote music for the writer Ben Greenman’s fictional “Rock Foxx” character. But his two earliest Swamp Dogg releases – Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! (1971) – have long been overdue for a re-release. Now, crisply remastered and available March 5 on CD and vinyl, they’re ready to shine afresh and perhaps attract a new audience.
After all, Rodríguez – whose two albums came out in ’70 and ’71, and who is an exact contemporary of Williams – has made something of a comeback, and he didn’t even have a music career in the interim. And unlike Rodríguez, no one needs to go “searching for” Swamp Dogg; he’s right here, at his own actively maintained website.
The Unknown Legends of Rock ‘N Roll described Swamp Dogg’s songs as “Like a strange combination of Sly Stone’s progressive funk with Frank Zappa’s lyrical absurdism,” a description especially apt for the first album. The leadoff and title track of Total Destruction To Your Mind, a funk masterpiece, has been covered by Galactic and other groups in the years since, but they couldn’t possibly have surpassed the original. (You can hear a snatch of it in Swamp Dogg’s promotional “jingle”:
With a punchy, high tenor voice that sometimes sounds a bit less polished than those of more famous soul singers like Jackie Wilson or Sam and Dave, but is every bit as biting and with a freestyle quality all its own, Swamp Dogg was clearly the master of his own universe on these recordings. “His vocals have always been for me both very energetic and very sad,” says Greenman, a longtime fan. Lyrically, Swamp Dogg manifests three preoccupations (he wrote some of the songs by himself, others in collaboration with Troy Davis or Gary “U.S.” Bonds.) There are calls for equality and social justice, songs about love and jealousy, and a related concern with babies and children. But he tends to tinge all of them at times with a kind of psychedelic absurdity. “Total Destruction” expresses a non-specific sense of being downtrodden and a vow of revenge:
I stand here, watch you playing games
But now I’m learning do the same
And now I am on your case
Looking you square in the face
And as sure as the sun will shine shine shine shine shine
I’m gonna do
Total destruction to your mind.
He leaves to our imagination just how he’ll engineer such destruction, while letting his own imagination run wild in songs like “Dust Your Head Color Red” (“Spirit dust your head color red / Sparkle your insides pink with pleasure”) and “I Was Born Blue” (“Why wasn’t I born with orange skin and green hair like the rest of the people in the world?”).
There’s less surrealism, and there are more overt cries for social justice, on the second album, Rat On!, which Swamp Dogg proudly touts as having one of the top 10 “worst album covers” of all time. In “God Bless America for What” he cries, “Oh what a joke is the Statue of Liberty / When there are Indians on the reservation, and black folks still ain’t free.” “Remember, I Said Tomorrow” and “Do You Believe” are also songs about liberation, and in “Do Our Thing Together” he returns to New York Harbor with: “We got to walk tall / Hand in hand / We’re a proud new generation / We’ll make a new land…The Statue of Liberty can be real if we let her.”
Singing about the darker, wackier side of family relationships, Swamp Dogg anticipates the oeuvres of both Maury Povich and Michael Jackson in songs like “The Baby Is Mine” and “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe”:
I got brown eyes
And so does she
But my baby’s got blue eyes
That’s a mystery to me…
Could it be Mama’s baby, Daddy’s maybe?
I guess I don’t really really want to know.
“Predicament #2” is about a man who has two women and is fine with keeping it that way “until I find a solution.” But the tables are turned and he goes into denial with “That Ain’t My Wife”: “That ain’t my wife that I see / I know that woman with that man don’t belong to me.”
There’s nothing unusual about any of these themes showing up in funk and soul music, but Swamp Dogg applied to them his own quasi-tongue-in-cheek patina, often enough to make him a true original, and an artist whose work of that period deserves to be better remembered than it is.
Humor and skewed points of view aside, all the best singers and songwriters know that a good song is a good song, and Swamp Dogg knows that very well, having crossed genres his whole life. In an interview on NPR’s Studio 360, he explained that he was raised on country music, growing up in Portsmouth, VA listening to DJ (and songwriter) Sheriff Tex Davis play country songs all day. On the other hand, “Black music we heard somewhere starting about 10 o’clock at night ’til about 4 in the morning, and I had to be in bed then…If you strip my tracks, and you take all the horns away and the funk guitar licks, what you have is a country song.” Ray Charles knew that too.
Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! will be available March 5. In addition to CD and black vinyl, there will be limited pressings on colored vinyl available at Bomp.
Listen to “If I Die Tomorrow” from Total Destruction To Your Mind.
Listen to “Creeping Away” from Rat On!
also got picked up by the Seattle daily newspaper, SEATTLE POST-INTELLEGENCER:

COLLECTING VINYL RECORDS (online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with  album art and related links.

MONKEY PICKS (online music site) – Positive album  reviews with  album art .
“Sitting on a cornflake, riding on a roller skate!” Those opening words to the thumping  “Total Destruction To Your Mind” show Swamp Dogg’s worldview doesn’t necessarily come from the same place as us ordinary folk but he was writing and singing about the things relevant to most. As he explains, “Commencing in 1970, I sung about sex, niggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution and blood transfusions (just to name a few), and never got out of character.”

And what a character it was. With the release of It’s All Good: The Singles Collection 1963-1989 I wrote how Jerry Williams created Swamp Dogg after years of relative obscurity, knocking out records and productions under a variety of guises. His first two albums recorded under his most enduring moniker have now been legitimately reissued for the first time on vinyl (plus CD and download etc) and they’re both excellent throughout.

In his brief liner notes Dogg suggests these albums sold millions due to bootleggers (“thieves”, he calls them). There’s no way of proving that but a couple of things strike me about them now. Firstly, they are as solid a pairing of soul albums as you’ll find from that period. They have moments of humour (Swamp possesses one of those voices which make things sound funny even when they aren’t) but they aren’t jokey or over the top, he plays it straight. Lyrically he addressed the same issues Marvin Gaye did on What’s Going On; this was Soul With A Conscience. Marvin’s album though was a no-expense spared affair with a lavish production and Gaye on the cover looking moody and serious standing in the rain with his expensive collar up; whilst Swamp recorded his with a tight funky band of Muscle Shoals soul men and was pictured sitting on a garbage truck in his shorts and cheering while straddling a giant white rat. Which brings me to my second point, those silliness sleeves don’t communicate how good the music is and how under appreciated these records are and Swamp/Williams is within the soul universe. When Rat On! has been mentioned in the intervening years it’s been in the Worst Album Sleeves of All Time lists, a fact Dogg acknowledges now. “This left-handed accolade has helped this masterpiece continue to sell and avoid obscurity”. That was him calling his own album a masterpiece. I wouldn’t go quite that far but Total Destruction To Your Mind is essential listening and Rat On! isn’t far behind.

Total Destruction To You Mind and Rat On! by Swamp Dogg are released by Alive Records on 5 March 2013.
WMSE (Milwaukee college radio) “She Even Woke Me Up to Say GoodBye” 2/15 and“These Are Not My People” 2/8 on Zero Hour

ROCTOBER (online music site) – Positive album  reviews with  album art .
Swamp Dogg “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” “Rat On!”[GUEST REVIEW BY JAMES PORTER] (Alive) Swamp Dogg has released over a dozen albums since the 1970 and 1971 LPs that Alive is reissuing this year, but as outrageous and bizarre as many of them have been, nothing matches the mind-blowing power of these R&B/rock/protest/progressive masterpieces that musically kept pretty loyal to Southern soul but conceptually were like nothing else on the market (which is probably why they were relegated to bargain bins instead of Casey Kasem countdowns). In 2000 Roctober published our Swamp Dogg listener guide, and the following excerpt holds true today:
After bursting on the scene as Little Jerry Williams in the 50s, the Virginia native continued in that vein for years, with minor success as a producer, songwriter and soul singer, until 1970 when he retired the sharkskin suit and the love songs and finally gave the world a piece of his mind with these two albums that started the show. Looking back, “Total Destruction” is like a a total reaction to the plastic soul sound of the period. While other producers would assemble a vocal group, string and horn sections, and a wah wah guitarist (to get the white kids!) in one studio and let them battle it out, nothing is wasted to excess on Swamp Dogg’s debut. Yes, there’s the guitar obbligatos of Pete Carr, Swamp’s own Gospel piano, and the usual horn section, but it’s Robert Popwell’s bass playing that defines the sound. You can hear his forbidding pulse to best effect on “The World Beyond,” holding down the bottom while Swamp recites a scarifying tale of life after wartime, one of the LP’s several powerful, unique, political statements. “The Baby is Mine,” a child custody song not to be confused with “Mama’s Baby…Daddy’s Maybe” (a minor hit from the same LP, Swamp’s only non-Jerry Williams chart appearance unless you count a Kid Rock SD sample) is almost too much for one sitting: “When I come by the house/I’m quiet as a mouse/but he always starts something every time…I got my rights/she might be his wife/but the baby is mine!” While this album isn’t as out there as similar soul experiments like Funkadelic or Gil Scott-Heron, songs like “Synthetic World,” “Redneck,” and the title track are more authentic than (admittedly great) Motown trifles like “Ball of Confusion” or “Friendship Train.” Swamp Dogg was speaking his mind while the Motown songs were written to cash in on fads. “Rat On!” is slightly more normal — the protest riffs, with the exception of “God Bless America,” are less bitter and more generalized, and there are a few more cheatin’ and infidelity songs (“Creepin’ Away,” “That Ain’t My Wife”) than previous, but the Dogg is still in top form.
For years both of this LPs have been available on one CD on domestic reissues (the SDEG label is Swamp Dogg’s own) and from Charly in the UK, but not enough can be said about the cover art that ALive reproduces in full 12″ glory on the new vinyl reissues. “Total Destruction” has an outrageous sleeve (an out of focus Polaroid of SD in shorts and a mortarboard sitting in the back of a garbage truck) so raw and funny and strange and amateurish that the devastating soul rock it sheathes is all the more powerful, and “Rat On!” (Ratso’s fave LP cover of all time) has him riding a giant rat. If only to get the cover art restored to full size (even on the CD resissues it’s a full five inches instead of two mini-covers on the prior CDs) these loving reissues would be worth the price, but they also sound great. Rat on, indeed!

ABOUT.COM / BLUES (online blues music site) – Positive album  review with  album art .
Soul Legend Swamp Dogg Reissued
By Reverend Keith A. Gordon
Soul legend Swamp Dogg (a/k/a/ Jerry Williams) was a unique figure even by the standards of the day. A talented songwriter, studio engineer, and producer, Williams worked with Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records through the 1960s. By the end of the decade, however, Williams had invented his “Swamp Dogg” alter-ego, releasing his debut album Total Destruction To Your Mind in 1970. Although it sold poorly at the time, the album’s mix of soul, funk, blues, and rock music would inspire a generation of artists to follow, Swamp Dogg a soul shouter in the style of Solomon Burke, a humorous and satirical (and frequently dirty-minded) songwriter in the vein of Frank Zappa.
Swamp Dogg followed up his eclectic debut with the musically similar Rat On! album the following year, the grotesque cover art (Dogg riding atop a large white rat) now considered one of the worst album covers of all time (a fact that Williams is oddly proud of). Both influential but out-of-print albums became coveted collector’s items long ago, but thanks to the good folks at Alive Naturalsound Records, both will be reissued on CD and vinyl LP on March 5, 2013. Newly re-mastered and appearing on vinyl for the first time since their original release, special limited-edition colored-vinyl versions of both albums will also be available by mail order only from the Bomp Records website. You can get a taste of both albums right now, however, courtesy of Swamp Dogg himself, by clicking through the links below.
“If I Die Tomorrow” (from Total Destruction To Your Mind)

”Creeping Away” (from Rat On!)

WFMU RADIO  (NJ college station) – Predicament #2 from the new reissue aired on  Joe McGasko’s Surface Noise show on Feb. 10th.

WCNI RADIO  (Conecticut college station) – Both albums added to playlist rotation (per music directo Brian Turner)

WNCU RADIO / THE FUNK SHOW (Durham, NC Jazz station) – Positive CD OF THE MONTH reviews with  album art posted on their website.
CD of the Month: Swamp Dogg! Total Destruction To Your Mind & Rat On!
Swamp Dogg is a very unique figure in Funk & Soul music. He is a musician, producer and a composer of more than 778 songs (listed on BMI). His name is Jerry Williams Jr. and he is from Portsmouth, Virginia. He produced other artists like Doris Duke, Z.Z. Hill, Irma Thomas and James Carr. Swamp Dogg is the author of about 12 albums and several singles. He recorded his first album in 1970 called Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! In1971. These two albums have recently been reissued by Alive Natural Sound on CD.
The CD Total Destruction To Your Mind opens with the title track which is totally funky. It features good vocals from Swamp Dogg, funky guitars, funky horns and a great band. The track Redneck is an upbeat tune and was written by Joe South. One of the singles from the album is Born Blue which is a southern Soul track that has a Muscle Shoals sound. The album was recorded at Capricorn Records in Macon Georgia.  Another single was These Are Not My People which is a pop / soft rock single and contains a catchy melody. The Baby Is Mine is another catchy southern soul tune and was much like the songs from that period. The CD ends with a funky blues which was released as a single in 1970 called Mama’s Baby – Daddy’s Maybe, which is one of the best on the CD.
‎Next is the CD Rat On! which opens up with Do You Believe  which is a marriage of full horns, a rhythm section, soulful female background vocals and the lead vocals of Swamp Dogg. The album was also recorded at Muscle Shoals Alabama with most of the musicians from his first LP. The songs Predicament #2 and Remember I Said Tomorrow are two more total Soul sides with the Muscle Shoals sound. More funky moments comes with the tracks Creeping Away and Got To Get A Message To You. I Kissed Your Face reminds you of the classic King Curtis arrangements. The CD ends with That Ain’t My Wife, She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye, and Do Our Thing Together. If I had to give my own label for these two CD’s I would call them FUNKY SOUL!

BLURT MAGAZINE (national music magazine) – Positive post with album album art and Swamp photo
Swamp Dogg STILL Ain’t Selling Out……. he’s buying in!
By Blurt Staff
Maverick soul artist Swamp Dogg (aka Jerry Williams) has been described as the “soul genius that time forgot,” and “a strange combination of Sly Stone’s progressive funk with Frank Zappa’s lyrical absurdism.” In the ’70s he even made the famed Nixon’s Enemies List.
Alive Naturalsound Records is reissuing Swamp Dogg’s first two albums, newly remastered and re-released for the very first time on vinyl (and CD) since their original release in the early ’70s.  Total Destruction To Your Mind (1970), has been called “one of the most gloriously gonzo soul recordings of all time,” while Rat On! (1971) was ranked as having one of the top ten worst album covers of all time (see above), an achievement that Swamp Dogg is rightfully proud of to this day. Here is a pair of “jingles” for each album title:
MADD CHICAGO (Chicago music blog) – Positive post with Swamp photo and album art and two mp3s.
Swamp Dogg to get re-issued
Maverick soul artist Swamp Dogg will have two of his seminal albums, Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On!, re-issued by Alive Records.  Known for his progressive funk compositions combined with absurd lyrics (and album covers, see Rat On! below), Swamp Dogg is one of the forgotten classic soul singers of the 70′s.  Dogg also made headlines in the during his career for his disapproval of President Richard Nixon and The United States innvolvement in the Vietnam War.  A stand that apparenlty put the soul singer alongside John Lennon, Joe Namath, Bill Cosby, and Noam Chomsky among others on Nixon’s Enemies List.
Dogg has offered fans downloads of “If I Die Tomorrow” from Total Destruction and “Creeping Away” from Rat On! for their listening pleasure.  Grab both track below.
WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY (online music site) – Positive post with album Creeping Away and If I Die Tomorrow mp3s
Swamp Dogg is off the Leash – Again.
Not all reissues suck.  Some are great.  Two reissues from soul iconoclast and Nixon enemies’ list member Swamp Dogg (aka Jerry Williams) will be released by Alive Natural Sound Records. They are reissuing  Swamp Dogg’s newly remastered first two records from the early ’70s: Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! on March 5th. This music will be available on black vinyl or CD.  Swamp Dogg is offering fans free downloads of “If I DieTomorrow” (from Total Destruction To Your Mind) and “Creeping Away” (from Rat On!).

Swamp Dogg wears many hats – performer, songwriter, arranger, anti-war activist and producer.  His own words help us understand why record companies had difficulty embracing the man: “Commencing in 1970, I sung about sex, n*ggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution and blood transfusions (just to name a few), and never got out of character. He did not get put of character when he created what has been described as one of the 10 worst album covers of all time:
So as another original,  Lord Buckley, so eloquently stated:  “Hipsters, flipsters and finger-poppin’ daddies knock me your lobes.”  The first taste is free. His music is rock, it’s country soul, it’s classic R&B and it’s funk.  Take away the impeccable Stax horn arrangements and it’s stone cold classic country.  Enjoy.  Rat on brother, Rat on. – Frank Fahey

NOW THIS SOUND IS BRAVE (online music site) – Positive post with artist photo and Creeping Away and If I Die Tomorrow mp3s
Swamp Dogg: Rat On!
When you look at the cover of Swamp Dogg’s album Rat On! now – on a black background, Swamp Dogg, in beret and fringed vest, sitting astride a white rat, Dogg’s arms held up in triumph – it just looks silly (and has indeed been called one of the worst album covers of all time). But at the time of its release in 1971, it managed to offend some people (evidence that people searching for things to be offended by is not a new development). While the photo was never intended as anything more than a visual component of the title’s play on words, Swamp Dogg hasn’t been one to back away from controversy, so he decided to stoke the fires of the offended by claiming the cover represented “the black man on top of the white man”1.
Clearly, what the cover does denote is an album from someone fond of clowning around. What you may miss from just looking at the cover, though, is that, beyond the silly cover and between some jokey songs are serious responses to race, war, sex, and more, backed by solid soul.
You see, Swamp Dogg is the alter ego of a man, Jerry Williams, Jr., with chops. Williams cut his first record when he was around 12 years old, when he was known as Little Jerry, and he’s been writing and producing music for himself and others since childhood. He’s worked with artists like Solomon Burke, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, Gene Pitney, and, along with writing partner Gary U.S. Bonds, was nominated for a Grammy for the song “She’s All I Got”, recorded by Johnny Paycheck.
Williams has not stopped working, either on his own or for others, and his first two Swamp Dogg albums, 1970′s Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On!, are being remastered and reissued on vinyl and CD by Alive Records on March 5.

UR CHICAGO (Chicago weekly) – “If I Die Tomorrow” featured as an “MPFREE”

TOP 40-CHARTS (online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with  album art and related links.

BROADWAY WORLD (online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with  album art and related links.

FARONHEIT (online Chicago music blog) – “If I Die Tomorrow” mp3 added to their “1/24/13 Pick Your Poison” feature.

Pick Your Poison: Thursday 1-24-13

PLUG-IN MUSIC (onlinemusic site) – News feature (from press announcement) with album art and related links.

MUSIC INDUSTRY NEWS NETWORKS (online music industry site) – News posting (from press announcement) with  album art and related links.


Formed by Thomas Storz (bass, percussion), Justin Toland (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Andrew Denham (drums, percussion), and originally from Mississippi, the power trio Dirty Streets now calls Memphis home. That’s where they recorded their new album Blades Of Grass, at the legendary Ardent studio, under the guidance of sound engineer Adam Hill. The core trio also enlisted the talents of Lucero’s Rick Steff on keys for this effort. Blades Of Grass is an old school rock’n’roll record with nods to the sounds of Humble Pie, Jeff Beck Group and others. It’s heavy music bathed in blues, folk and psychedelia, with chops to spare and a working class point of view. The band already has two independent releases under their belt, including an album with renown Memphis producer Doug Easley, and has toured extensively in the Southeast, with a couple of East Coast runs, and an eight week U.S. tour with Radio Moscow. Summer 2013 U.S. tour dates to be announced soon.

Dirty Streets’ Blades of Grass will be available in all formats on July 9th. Limited Edition Color Vinyl exclusive to Bomp-mailorder.




1. Stay Thirsty

2. Talk

3. No Need To Rest

4. Movements #2

5. Try Harder

6.  Blades Of Grass

7. Keep An Eye Out

8. Heart Of The Sky

9. Truth

10. Twice

11. I Believe I Found Myself (bonus track exclusive to CD and digital download)




Tony Bonyata
Pavement PR
p: 262.903.7775

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