All you need to know about the Konza Swamp Band you can learn from the liner notes of their new album, which gives thanks to The Good Lord, Miller Lite, Woody Guthrie, Jerry Douglas, Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, the Walnut Valley Association, farmers, truck drivers and blue-collars. But if'n you feel like learnin' more about this fast-pickin' bluegrass collective, our podcast with guitarist/vocalist Garrett White and upright bassist Chris DeVictor tackles selections from the new album and pertinent topics like groundhog chasin'. The seven-piece group toasts "Groundhog" with an early patio show July 15 at the Replay Lounge with support from Kasey Rausch and Friends.

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Swamp Thang: The Konza Swamp Band eats, sings "Groundhog"

All you need to know about the Konza Swamp Band you can learn from the liner notes of their new album, which gives thanks to The Good Lord, Miller Lite, Woody Guthrie, Jerry Douglas, Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, the Walnut Valley Association, farmers, truck drivers and blue-collars. But if'n you ...

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lawrence.com: Why'd you pick the title "Groundhog"?

White: There are a lot of reasons, I guess-the biggest one being the picture on the back cover with the groundhog getting stuck underneath Caleb's hood when we came home from a gig one time.

So tell us the story.

White: We noticed something scattering across the road and it went underneath Caleb's car. They go inside and grab some rakes and try to shoo it out, and it runs up under the hood. So they open the hood and start poking at it, and it runs back underneath. This probably went on for at least an hour. Finally, they got it on the ground and Caleb jumped in and started his car. He took off and it was there, totally by itself, no cover anymore. It freaked out and ran into the woods.

How'd you get into bluegrass?

Album Mp3s

Album cover art
Groundhog

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White: It started back when I was in college at K-State in Manhattan : I went down to Winfield (for the Walnut Valley Festival) and I was pretty much hooked.

Tell us a bit about the Walnut Valley Festival and why people should go.

White: Wow-it just inspires you to play music. There are 15,000 people down there, and the majority of them are playing some sort of instrument. You're surrounded by music the whole time, so you just absorb a lot. It blew me away. I was like, 'Alright, this is what I want to do with my time.'

Are there originals in your repertoire?

DeVictor: Yeah, Beth Watts wrote two that are on this album. There's some old-time tunes, some traditional numbers and a couple of blues tunes ... We like mixing it up.

Past Event

The Konza Swamp Band (early patio show)

  • Sunday, July 15, 2007, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Replay Lounge, 946 Mass., Lawrence
  • All ages / $2 - $3

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What are your favorite places to play around here?

White: There's that barn out near Lake Perry, the old Apple Valley Farm.

DeVictor: I think they call it the Bluegrass Barn and Theater these days.

That's a fun little off-the-beaten-path spot if you put a bit of research into finding it.

DeVictor: Yeah, they've got a lot of big shows coming up. I know the Prairie Acre is playing-of course the Faris Family plays. It's a good venue. We had a ton of fun.

So the Konza Swamp is near Manhattan : Wait, is it a swamp?

White: There's a Konza Prairie, and when it rains it gets wet and swampy. Our banjo player (Nick Gardner) moved to Louisiana, so we kind of migrate back and forth from Manhattan to Baldwin, LA.

So it's the fusion of the two styles.

White: Exactly.

So this album was tracked at Mike West's Ninth Ward Pickin' Parlor, and though it was at one point in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, it is now in Lawrence at Mike's house.

DeVictor: We here in the Midwest are very lucky that he chose this area to move once they got flooded out down in New Orleans. The experience being in his studio was really amazing. We've recorded in different settings with different people-we actually have a previous album that's kind of pieced together-but Mike is absolutely an expert on acoustic music and the right microphones and the right preamps. We've had a lot of positive feedback that this album sounds the way acoustic music is supposed to be recorded: you can hear all of the harmonies and featured instruments.

Mike and his band Truckstop Honeymoon are of course regulars down at Stage 5 at Winfield. Have you played Stage Five or Stage 7 (in the campgrounds)?

White: Stage 7 is actually the Manhattan crew. The first year I went down there is when we kind of started that, and it's grown into a real cool deal.

DeVictor: Find Stage 7 at Winfield-that's us.

Where do you get your songs from?

DeVictor: There's sometimes as many as seven people involved, and everybody has different flavors and backgrounds. Our banjo player Nick Gardner plays a lot of clawhammer and is deep into old-time music.

What's the best part of learning tunes that the rest of the bluegrass world knows?

White: That's definitely part of it, when you can play a song and somebody can walk up and pick it up and everybody can jam. It's also good to do original things and experiment-you don't want to get too tired playing "Salt Creek" all day long.

Have you eaten groundhog?

White: Yeah, it's not that bad.

DeVictor: Do you have to have a license for that?

White: I'm not sure.

Where do you get your groundhog?

White: Louisiana.

Imported from online?

White: No, you just drive down there and pick it up.

Comments

ozgood 14 years, 10 months ago

although it sounds inhumane to eat groundhog, it actually is eco-friendly. wish i was coming to stage 7 this year. turnitout!

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