published: October 17, 2011
Last Monday, when my favorite band, Swamp Cabbage popped up with the theme song for American Guns, I almost fell off my chair. Swamp’s honcho, Walter Parks had rewritten the lyrics to the song "Tallahassee" off Swamp Cabbage’s first album Honk. This 30 second theme song will help Swamp Cabbage broaden its fan base.
For 10 years, Walter backed up Richie Havens on lead guitar, touring globally. A year ago, Havens decided to take an indeterminate length of time off to address a health issue. Luckily, Walter had established Swamp Cabbage in 2006, and had an established circuit and fans in the deep south when Havens wasn’t touring.
Now, of course, Walter has broadened his scope to include international touring. Swamp’s playing venues are as diverse as Daytona’s Bike Week and a trip to Spain. Later, he will tour with Judy Collins. Coincidentally, Collins owns Wildflower Records with which Walter has signed for his solo CD.
Anxious to find out how Walter hooked up with the producer of American Guns, I blitzed down to St. Augustine to Jimmy DeVito’s studio, where Walter was recording a new album with his band, that now includes Jim DeVito on bass, Jagoda on drums, and Walter on swamp-blues guitar.
Inside the cavernous labyrinth of Jim’s, studio, I found Walter helping Jim with a mix. After taking some photographs inside the studio and control room, I sat down with Walter to get the skinny on his theme song coup with American Guns.
“This happened out of the blue. The show’s producer actually called me about our music. He heard it–and I’m not sure where–liked it, and wanted to use our music as the show’s theme.”
“First, they wanted to use the song "Tallahassee". But then he called me back and wanted me to change the lyrics to be more gun specific. He gave me some pointers on what direction to go. Then we exchanged ideas. The third time we nailed it. He said it was a ‘home run.’”
“Since I record on 2' tape, and he wanted a digital recording, we had to convert the music into a digital format. We recorded it two weeks ago here at Jim’s studio,”he said.
“ Did you get a chance to see clips of the show before you signed onto the project? ” I asked.
“Well, I seldom watch TV, but they sent us the intro to the show which was enough for me to get the feel of what they wanted,” he said.
“The way the producer mixed the music with the show was tight. They cleverly used short clips of your music as a sound track throughout the show. Did you like the way they used your music?” I asked.
“From what I heard, it was great. But as I said, I rarely watch TV. I’m so busy with my music, that to me, watching an hour of TV would be time I could write another song,” he said.
The show American Guns runs on Monday nights at 10:00 pm ET on Discovery Channel. The theme song and sound track by Swamp Cabbage are great examples of the group’s swampy-blues material. SC’s driving funky beat and distorted bass are trademarks.
Yes, Walter has stepped out into the spotlight as a consummate songwriter of Southern roots music. Taste the Cabbage–it’s sweet, spicy, and addictive. For more info, go to: www.myspace.com/swampcabbage or www.swampcabbage.com