New Orleans-based, award-winning musician, singer and author, Johnette Downing presents the music and history of her Louisiana roots Swamp Romp, her tenth recording for children. Downing’s strong, expressive alto is supported by a fine group of players including ace harmonica player and producer Scott Billington. Contained within is a generous gumbo of fifteen original compositions, and a stellar bilingual arrangement of the traditional “J’Ai Vu Loup, Le Renard Et La Belette” (“I Saw the Wolf, the Fox and the Weasel”) sung as a duet with fiddler Joel Savoy and famed accordionist Roddle Romero. Both Cajun and Zydeco styles are explored on such fun songs as “Mudbug Boogie,” the Mambo-infused “It Wasn’t Me (the Possum Song)” and a beautiful duet with the legendary Irma Thomas on the 50s-style doowop of “Poor Worry Anna.” Rivers and wetlands are celebrated in the rocking title track and the tongue twisting spelling song “Mississippi River.” The New Orleans mixing of cross-cultural musical styles is aptly demonstrated in “Bamboula Rhythm,” powered by Kirk Joseph’s percussive sousaphone (tuba) playing. “Gathering Something Sweet” takes a short and delicious detour to the Caribbean, while “Your Best Pair of Shoes” is a classic Fats Domino/Allen Toussaint-style rhythm aided by members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. N’Orleans dietary delicacies as Po’Boy (on “How to Dress a Po’Boy”) and the acapella “Crawfish Etoufée” are given tasty arrangements. The rich cultural contributions of Spanish Canary Islanders (Isleños) to New Orleans communities is celebrated in “Our Oxcarts,” while “Stand Up, Jump” is a great movement song backed by The McCray Sisters and a kid chorus. The album closes with the beautiful, lilting “Star in My Sky.” Eco-friendly packaging holds a beautifully illustrated booklet of lyrics and song annotations, making this a must have for teaching children about the marvelous melting pot of cultures that makes up New Orleans.
Lahri Bond ©2019 Parents’ Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.