Various Artists (from the album Swampland Jewels available on Yep Roc Records)
An audio makeover presents Swampland Jewels as a new listen for 2017. Yep Roc Records offers the compilation as the first full-length of their partnership with the Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Southern Folklife Collection, with the re-issue produced by Steven Weiss, curator at the Southern Folklife Collection. The recording represents music from East Texas and Louisiana, taken primarily from studio work of the 1950’s and 1960’s, with some material recorded in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The collection features twelve cuts from the original 1991 release as well as seven newly discovered tracks with updated liner notes on Goldband Records label, who originally put out Swampland Jewels and label founder Eddie Shuler. Marquee names such as Boozoo Chavis, Sidney Brown, and Jo-El Sonnier appear alongside regional superstars mixing Zydeco, Cajun, Rock’n’Roll and Rhythm & Blues into the music.
Eddie Shuler built the studio that housed the hits next to his radio shop in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the music recorded in a space that measured eight feet wide but eighteen feet long and twelve feet high. In that room, he put to tape the soaring vocals of Leroy Broussard on “La Valse de Bo Sparkle”, the Cajun accordion of Jo-El Sonnier alongside Sidney Brown on “Fee Fee Poncho”, mixed Cajun with Delta in “Good Morning Blues” from Cleveland Crochet and Jay Stutes, covered a Louisiana anthem with “Bon Ton Roulet” by Herman Goulee, and let traditional fiddles and accordion vie with rock’n’roll guitar licks in Joe Bonsall’s “Creole Song”. History is showcased on Swampland Jewels in both the songs and studio environment, producer Steve Weiss filling in each portion, stating that ‘I researched the Goldband collection to find the original single or session masters for all the songs. It was a thrill hearing the raw recordings with studio talk, count-ins, and unissued takes that captured the way Eddie worked and the immediacy of studio recordings in the 1950s and ‘60s. The original tapes also captured a strong sense of place’. Boozoo Chavis opens Swampland Jewels with his tune “Paper in My Shoe” as Jo-El Sonnier puts a little Country into his reading of “My Blue Letter” and Latin rhythms dance with an Acadian twist for Joe Bonsall’s take on “La Cucaracha” with his version, “La Cuca Rochman”.