“COTTONDALE SWAMP” (a review)
By Robert Lloyd (Email: email@example.com)
Once in a while you run into an interesting group on the internet in the entertainment area that surprises you. This is one of those occasions. And in this case, it's the north Florida quartet “Cottondale Swamp”. They perplex me. And no, don't expect to see them in the near future at your local Holiday Inn. Let's just say they wouldn't fit in.
I've been a fan of Cottondale Swamp for a while and surprised when I heard the Americana Community Music Association (ACMA) had booked their performance here for May 26, 2018. And guess what? I am leading off the show. That could be scary!
Are you back? Take a deep breath. Ok, did you enjoy the song and performance? Great. Let me introduce you to this lineup of suspects... oops, I mean musicians. The band formed back in 2015 with some session players and maybe burned out rockers in need of a new direction. The boys are Michael Hoag (bass), Chas Winzenread (lead guitar), Ken Bailey (drums), and Kenneth Grube (acoustic guitar and vocals). I was talking to Michael on the phone the other day and just loved the story of the band.
First up, I want to talk about Kenneth Grube... and with a startling factoid of Kenneth is that he does 150 shows each years doing an Elvis tribute. That feeds his family. But then he plays in Cottondale Swamp and in a total different musical direction. But what is so cool, he gives the aura of being this bit player in a Quentin Tarrantino movie with his swagger and roughed up dress in his performances. I can't say I know of another character so out of kilter with the modern pop/country scene in today's entertainment field. You've got Justin Timberlake types, with their slick marketing side for the kids. Then you have the 'attitude junkies' of the modern pop female genre. You have the hip hop with a twang country pop stars. Then you have something totally different... Ken Grube fronting this growling swamp-rock group Cottondale Swamp. I just love it.
Michael Hoag is on bass, originally from Boston, and he played in about every band within a hundred miles of the seaboard. But Michael was most personable when I visited with him by phone one afternoon. Not an embittered hard rocking interview whatsoever, but surprisingly personable. And he is probably the central player in the songwriting part of Cottondale Swamp. They all are a part, but Michael was important to the writing of the song “Leave Me On The Swannee” (and yep, that is how they spell it in the old Florida way). On a side note, Michael's sister, Judith Hoag, is an actress in the hit show “Nashville”...
Chas Winzenread, lead guitar, and a great performer with the sounds he brings into the group's songs. I love his playing! He is a super experienced musician that knows the trade and what the business is all about. He has performed all over the world and will bring that knowledge into this concert with the band. Originally a small town boy from the mid-west, Chas cut his teeth in the Hollywood/LA rock scene and played in that strange world there for some time.
Ken Bailey, drummer and vocals, and also a member of the Drummers Collective. You'll have to look that one up! LOL. This guy has done it all and has even been a session player in New York City. He was a technical director and staff drummer of one of the large studios in the metropolis. He brings his chops to Cottondale Swamp while giving them their unique swampy sound.
Finally, (from their website) Cottondale Swamp and its members have shared the stage with, opened for, or played in the bands of many of our favorite artists, including: Dickey Betts, Bellamy Brothers, Artimus Pyle, Sammy Hagar, Southern Culture on the Skids, Dale Watson, Leon Russell, Cheap Trick, Dick Dale, Melanie, Gin Blossoms, Live, Avril Lavigne, Marilyn Manson, The Fixx, and many more.
I'm gonna love leading off for them. I hope they don't bite.