“Somewhere, there exists a dark, smoky bar with a jukebox that spins George Jones, Gram Parsons, Delbert McClinton, and Little Feat. And if that fantasy honky-tonk lights your Marlboro, you need to know about Honey Island Swamp Band.” –Broward-Palm Beach New Times
“Vintage country meets Gulf Coast boogie-woogie blues.” –Bthesite, Baltimore Sun
“The Honey Island Swamp is a real place. It resides near the border of Louisiana and Mississippi. It’s therefore a fitting name for this band that draws inspiration from the music of those two states. With the Honey Island Swamp Band, soul, country, R&B and blues are all on equal footing. The two man songwriting/guitarist team of Chris Mulé and Aaron Wilkinson produce expressive, hook-laden tunes that honor songcraftwhile respecting the groove.” –Jambase.com
“What a fine band this is –an utterly refreshing, unpretentious group of first-rate instrumentalists who also sing engagingly. Their music is as delicious as their name.” –Susan Peña, The Reading Eagle
Great music begins with great songs, and great songs are what the Honey Island Swamp Band is all about. The band came together after Aaron Wilkinson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Chris Mule’ (electric guitar, vocals) were marooned in San Francisco after the levee breaches following Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and had a chance encounter with fellow New Orleans evacuees Sam Price (bass, vocals) and Garland Paul (drums, vocals) at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room on Fillmore Street. They knew each other from having all played together in some form or another in various New Orleans bands, and with the great unknown regarding their return to their underwater hometown looming in the distance, they decided to put together a band and get some gigs going. Fortunately, the Boom Boom Room’s owner Alex Andreas offered the band a weekly gig on the spot.
Sunday nights at the Boom Boom Room soon became a favorite of Bay Area roots music lovers, who have a long-standing affinity for New Orleans music and musicians. Two months into the residency, sound engineer Robert Gatley approached the band with a rare opportunity — he wanted to record a Honey Island Swamp Band album at the legendary Record Plant studios in Sausalito, where he worked. The 7-song eponymous debut Honey Island Swamp Band came together beautifully, with Wilkinson and Mulé both contributing favorite originals, and was received so well that they all decided to continue the band upon moving back to New Orleans in 2007.
Honey Island Swamp Band‘s music has been described as “Bayou Americana”, with timeless songs from Wilkinson & Mulé, highlighted by Mulé’s searing guitar, Wilkinson’s sure-handed mandolin, and 4-part vocal harmonies, all anchored by the powerful groove of Price & Paul’s Louisiana stomp rhythm section. The addition of Trevor Brooks on Hammond B-3 organ to the HISB family in 2010 has rounded out the band’s sound, which draws from a variety of influences in the world of roots music, including artists such as Lowell George & Little Feat, The Band, Taj Mahal, Gram Parsons, Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Reed, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and New Orleans’ own Earl King and Dr. John.
In April 2009, the band released its first full-length album – Wishing Well – and on the strength of such songs as “Natural Born Fool”, “Till the Money’s Gone”, and the album’s title track, Wishing Well was awarded 2009′s “Best Blues Album” by OffBeat Magazine, which also named HISB as 2009’s “Best Emerging Artist” and 2010’s “Best Roots Rock Artist”. Most recently HISB won the award for “Best Roots Rock Artist” of 2011 at the Big Easy Awards, New Orleans’ most prestigious arts & entertainment honors.
The newest offering from HISB – 2010’s Good To You – was named to several “Top Ten CDs of 2010″ lists, and has quickly become a staple on the Crescent City’s legendary radio station WWOZ, as well as on Sirius/XM satellite radio’s Bluesville and traditional stations from coast-to-coast. Featuring the southern strut of songs such as “Be Good”, “300 Pounds” and the album’s first single “Chocolate Cake”, Good To You illuminates the mix of country-inflected rock and New Orleans funky blues that makes Honey Island Swamp Band‘s music so familiar and unique at the same time.
And now a word from the band….
“We started the Honey Island Swamp Band in the fall of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina left us high and dry but far from home in San Francisco. We’d worked together in New Orleans bands for years, but with no prospects of getting home any time soon, we thought we’d better cook up something new, and quick. A few days later we’d put together a song list, landed a weekly gig, and settled in to share a little taste of southern culture with our new west coast neighbors.
Thanks to those good folks in California, we made it through the lean times, had ourselves a good time, and made it back home in what seems like hardly no time at all. We hope you’ll enjoy listening to the Honey Island Swamp Band as much as we love playing in it. Come on out and see us soon!”
- Chris Mulé & Aaron Wilkinson
The Honey Island Swamp Band:
- Chris Mulé: guitar, resonator, vocals
- Aaron Wilkinson: mandolin, guitar, harmonica, vocals
- Sam Price: bass, vocals
- Garland Paul: drums, vocals
- Trevor Brooks: B-3 organ, piano