This week’s Alive After Five headliner: Honey Island Swamp Band
Go Listen Boise local opener: Thomas Paul


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 recording 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 early 2007.

Honey Island Swamp Band‘s sound has been described as “Americana on the Bayou”, 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. Their music draws from a variety of influences in the world of roots music, including artists such as Lowell George & Little Feat, Jimmy Reed, Taj Mahal, Jerry Garcia, Gram Parsons, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and New Orleans’ own “Night Tripper”, the legendary Dr. John.

In April 2009, HISB released its first full-length album – Wishing Well – produced by Tom Drummond of Better Than Ezra. Throughout the rest of 2009, the band toured relentlessly in support of Wishing Well, on the strength of such songs as “Natural Born Fool”, “Till the Money’s Gone”, and the album’s title track. In January 2010, Wishing Well was named 2009′s “Best Blues Album” at OffBeat Magazine’s BEST OF THE BEAT Awards, where the band was also honored as “Best Emerging Artist”.

The newest offering from HISB – Good To You – was released in April 2010, and has quickly become a staple of most DJs 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. OffBeat Magazine nominated Good To You as 2010’s “Best Roots Rock Album” at this year’s BEST OF THE BEAT Awards, in addition to the band winning the prize as 2010’s “Best Roots Rock Artist”. 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.

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