The Swamp Band
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The Swamp Band

Band Country Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"The Swamp Band: Five guys who love what they're doing"

It's Saturday night. The Hotel bar is shrouded in a semi-darkness which doesn't conceal the long rows of
tables crowded with people. The tables are lined with pitchers and bottles of beer; a pall of smoke
hangs in the air. Those who are not sitting and drinking are massed on the dance floor moving to the sound of the music and the spirit of revelry which has gripped the entire room. It is the music which dominates. It penetrates everywhere, a clear and powerful wall of harmony which reaches out, pulling everyone within hearing distance into its throbbing upbeat spell.
Crowed into the small stage at the end of the room are five musicians, the souce of the music and the
inspiration behind the evening's high wired intensity. This is The Swamp Band, a group of local
musicians who have attained the status of local celebrities. The scene of this particular evening's
entertainment is the Havelock Hotel, but it could be any one of the numerous bars, halls or outside
events in the area where the band performs regularly.
When The Swamp Band plays, people show up, packing rooms to hear a mixture of music which somehow manages to sarisfy the tastes of a broad spectrum of listeners. There is no age limits to a typical Swamp Band audience, no generation gaps are apparent. The band plays it all - country, rock-a-billy, folk, blues, an astounding variety of songs which bring everyone to life.
There is a uniqueness to The Swamp Band, readily apparent in the figure of the lead singer, standing a little to the front of the stage strumming an autoharp. This is Charlie Ireland, who writes many of the songs the band performs.
The Swamp Band's sound has certainly made the band popular in Havelock, Norwood, Marmora and Hastings. In fact the group has attained quite a local following. " We have a great following. A lot of people have followed the band around for years. We affectionatly call them Swamp Flowers" Charlie says smilingly.
The band's popularity is a good indication of the quality of their music. And the misic they perform is
mostly original. "Our music covers a wide range and three quarters of the tunes we perform are our own
compositions. We fill the rest with other old favorites" Charlie explains.
So why does a band with a quality sound and a good reputation confine itself to playing a relatively
small area? Actually, as Charlie points out, the band has had chances to go away on the road. In fact they did play all over southern Ontario for a bit, but as further explains, "when you are not a big name act and have to pay the expenses yourself, there is really no money in extensive touring".

At the moment The Swamp Band is having fun and the band members are indeed playing on terms that they can live with. Concentrating their act within a defined area has it's own compensation, including a fame which, although localized, is nevertheless real and satisfying, as Charlie is quick to point out: "We
have a ball playing around here. In fact, staying has meant we have built up a reputation. Sure we would love to do bigger things, but if it doesn't happen, I won't worry about it. In our own little area, we
have all the fame we could want.

Above all else, the primary satisfaction comes from the sheer joy of performing and providing pleasure for other people, as Charlie readily admits: "The reward is when you have a very good show, you look around and the people are flipping out. You just look at each other, you nod and go....yup"

If you love good country and blues music and you haven't seen The Swamp Band, then come out and catch their act sometime. Then you would have to agree with Charlie, becouse there is no doubt about it - The Swamp Band and their audience do have a great time.
- by Mark Hoult - The Community Press

"Outlaw poets like these rhyme until they die"

Havelock-Belmont-Methuen - In the title song of The Swamp Band’s new CD, Outlaw Poets, songwriter Charles Ireland sings, “It’s as plain to see as the sun in the sky/Outlaw poets rhyme until they die.” It took some old band members, among them his brother Ray, to remind Charles of the truth of this lyric. And perhaps five years of “retirement” was enough for this founding member of what was originally called The Cedar Swamp Band. “We still love music, and we said, ‘let’s get Charlie out here,’ because he writes great songs, he’s a writer,” says Ray Ireland, also a founding member of the original 1970s band out of Cordova Mines that was rounded out by Dan Ireland, Phil Madsgaard and John Gibson.

The Swamp Band has gone through a number of incarnations over the past 30 years. But now, many of its longest serving members have returned, and the band known for playing “music from
the fringe” is back in the recording studio and back on the stage. “You’ve got to keep on writing and keep on playing and keep on telling the stories,” says Ray, who does backing vocals and
plays acoustic/electric guitars and mandolin. Charles, the chief lyricist and lead singer, also plays the autoharp. Jimmy Rodgers plays drums and does backing vocals. Phil Madsgaard, the band’s lead guitarist, sings lead and backing vocals. b.b. Virgoe plays bass guitar, and Terry Davis is the band’s indispensable sound man. Together they will take the stage at the Havelock Country Jamboree on Sunday, August 20. And when they do, country music fans at the 17th annual outdoor music festival will be treated to an energetic performance by one of the bands who was in the Havelock lineup at the very beginning. “We were one of the founding bands, ”Ray observes.

Since 1990 The Swamp Band has made numerous appearances at the jamboree. But this year they return after a long absence, ready to play a venue that now features some of the leading names in country music. “We feel privileged to share the stage with the incredible
talent they’ve had their over the years,” Rays says. “We’re a representation of local music out of Havelock, where this incredible jamboree has been founded.” “And we’re proud of what the band has contributed to the jamboree,” says Charles. “We’re proud of Jack and Ed and Paula and Cathy and everything that they’ve done there; we’ve supported it from the very beginning and we still do.”
The Swamp Band is also returning to the jamboree stage with exciting material from a new CD. Outlaw Poets was recorded this year by Andy Thompson at Northumberland Studio 29. The album’s 14 tracks open with the driving beat of “Eye of the Storm,” written by Charles about the thrill of running naked through a thunder storm. The mood changes in the second song, “Outlaw Poets,” written by Charles about his life moving from one gig to the next. The “Longest Road” has a contemplative tone appropriate to its subject matter: the circle of life, death and rebirth. Charles says he had reincarnation in mind when he wrote the song. Although he doesn’t
commit to belief in reincarnation, he doesn’t entirely dismiss the idea. “It’s a possibility I’ve pondered,” he says. “Dangerous World” was written “for all the good people in the world,” Charles says. “Faces and Places” is about all of the different people and places encountered during a life of playing and singing. Red-Neck Protest, driven by its “funky bass line,” reflects the band’s concerns about the destruction of what was once a pristine natural environment. “It’s an
environmental protest song,” says Charles, whose family has lived in rural Ontario for five generations.
“Cold Memories” is about “the bad part of playing bars,” sleepless nights and haunting memories. “Nap Time,” written by Phil Madsgaard “about some of the things that bug me,” is a fast-moving song with a serious underlying message about the loss of freedoms. “Boot Life” is about a pair of cowboy boots, and “Slow Down Road” is about drinking and driving. “Bohemian Cowboy” is “a song about myself, and how hard it is to be a little different and think a little differently,” says Charles. “Stand and Deliver” is The Swamp Band’s ode to patriotism. “We’re 100 per cent Canadian, and we stand behind Canada, and you’ll hear that in our songs,” says drummer Jimmy Rodgers.
“Is This Real?” has a number of thematic strands, but wraps up with the message: “Love mother nature and one another.” “Stetson Proof” is a country-blues song written by Charles and Jimmy. It is largely inspired by the trademark black cowboy hat Charles always wears on stage.

Although there is a strong undercurrent of country sound on Outlaw Poets, the album reflects a wide range of musical influences. Ray says one definition of the band’s music is “energetic country from the fringe.” But the band members agree their music doesn’t submit to labels. Instead it covers the spectrum of genres, from old country and rockabilly to rock, blues and jazz.
“We don’t write to sound - Osprey Publications-July 28/2006


Outlaw Poets-2006 , all original
Talk About Your God Times, Hmmm?- rr/2006 -Phil Madsgaard originals.
Retrospect-2004- all original
E.P. The House- 1992-all original
Honky Tonks and Bars-1990,- all original
The Swamp Band- 1988- all original


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Swamp Band has gone through a number of incarnations over the past 30 years. But now, many of its longest serving members have returned, and the band known for playing “music from the fringe” is back in the recording studio and back on the stage.
It all re-materialized after an impromptu jam session early in 2005. It was like we had never stopped playing together. Everyone is excited about getting back at it and heading into the studio.

Even more exciting was to showcase the music from our newest c.d. to 80,000 plus fans at the Havelock Jamboree.
We are pleased to announce that The Swamp Band is back, like never before!