It is only a matter of days until the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival swaggers into town and it is great to see two of its best venues popping up again in George Square Gardens.
Performing at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival for the very first time are six-piece band Swampfog. This band with university alumni members will be serving up their funky rhythms at the heart of Edinburgh's festivals in the Piccolo tent in George Square Gardens. Their show, Swampfog play The Meters will be playing tribute to the classic New Orleans group and joined by a posse of New Orleans guest musicians.
Tell us about Swampfog and where did the name come from?
Swampfog exists to play funky, danceable music with a New Orleans feel. We play music by artists such as The Meters, Dr John, Stanton Moore, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a few covers that we've given a swampy treatment to and some original tunes. We were formed last year to take over the Wednesday late night residency at the Jazz Bar, which we still play every week.
We originally had a slightly less excellent name, until one day, Jed (guitar), Chuck (trumpet) and Tom (sax) were driving through South Carolina, and past a swampy piece of land, over which was hovering a thin line of fog. "Whoah, check out that swamp fog", somebody said. And the rest as they say...
Why did you choose to pay tribute to The Meters for this gig?
The Meters are arguably the godfathers of New Orleans funk. Their choppy, rhythmic style was totally unique when they first appeared in the late 1960s, and influenced a wide range of other funk musicians and their influence is still huge today. Yet they are not as widely known as other funk acts such as James Brown etc, so we were keen to explore their back catalogue and hopefully bring their music to some new people, while giving their tunes a Swampfog treatment, with a great big horn section.
In a festival city such as Edinburgh, how does the Jazz and Blues Festival stand out?
The Jazz & Blues Festival has to be the "feel-good" festival of all of Edinburgh's festivals - a huge range of music, all played at a high quality in a great range of venues, plus some huge free outdoor events in the form of the Mardi Gras and Carnival on the first weekend. It's a great festival to try something new at, and know that you're going to get something really top notch.
You are one of the resident bands at The Jazz Bar. How important is that venue to Edinburgh and this festival?
Swampfog, and many other bands besides, would not exist if it weren't for the Jazz Bar - it nurtures a whole scene in Edinburgh, and provides a platform for so many musicians, from Edinburgh and beyond. Its ethos from its very beginning, when set up by the late Bill Kyle, was to support musicians by giving them both a place to play in the form of employment, and a place to try new things. That ethos continues to this day thanks to the team at The Jazz Bar. During the Jazz Festival, it is undoubtedly the "late night hang" - aided in no small part by its 5am license, and by hosting jam sessions on several nights of the festival.
The University’s George Square Gardens are at the heart of many of Edinburgh’s festivals. How do you feel about playing your gig in the Piccolo tent this year?
A Spiegeltent gig is always a special experience for both band and audience - inside the tent, you can create a great atmosphere, leave your worries out on the outside, and forget where you are...
What’s next for Swampfog?
Swampfog will be back in the studio soon to record a follow up to the double A side we recorded/released earlier this year (Frankenstein/Sho Much Shtamina, available on Bandcamp!) while playing every week at The Jazz Bar, and getting further afield.
Swampfog Plays The Meters will take place at 20.30 on Tuesday 18th July in the Piccolo Tent, George Square Gardens
Photo Credit: Carles Bixquert