Deep Down in the Sugar Swamp – Album Review

The South Mountain Rock OperaThe Dungaree Brothers with the Hupman Brothers Band

For a few glorious moments last Monday night, Paddy’s Pub in Wolfville was transformed from a small-town celtic bar into a down-home dancehall shack out on the bayou. The Dungaree Brothers, together with the Hupman Brothers Band, combined forces to present the South Mountain Swamp Rock Opera to a dance-hungry crowd that lapped up the swampy beats like hot molasses punch.

The supergroup played a set at the open mic in anticipation of their CD release concert, coming up on July 3rd in the Al Whittle Theatre. Recorded in a converted welding shed, the new album is made up of songs (all written by Scott Prudence) relating to life up on the north and south mountains. It’s ridden with references to plaid shirts, dirt roads, and clear cutting machines. The band’s sound evokes the Southern rock grooves of The Allman Brothers Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival, with lyrical stylings resembling John Prine or Bob Dylan. The tracks cover a broad palate, from the salty, sweaty blues tunes to sweeter, folky ballads, yet never stray from the mountain-made lyrics that tie them all together.

The Opera’s sundry star shines most brightly in the dark swampy blues numbers like “Blackflies or Neighbors,” “Mountain Road,” and “Overloaded.” Here the Dungarees’ and the Hupmans’ gritty, intoxicating rhythms mesh perfectly with their cracker-barrel philosophies. Scott Prudence’s vocals sound like black magic, the riffs and solos readily drip with pork fat and beans, and the beats are as big and dirty as an industrial rototiller. All these elements come together to create a primal texture you can feel ooga-chugging deep down in your gut. This CD should not be listened to quietly at home. It is meant to be played loud. In a truck. Driving real fast.

The album is great, but their live show is downright electrifying—an absolute must-see. Go to the Al Whittle Theatre on Saturday, July 3rd at 8 pm and find your inner swamp.

Tickets to the CD Release Concert are $15 and on sale at the Box of Delights Bookstore in Wolfville.

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with these guys coming up in the next issue.

~Laura MacDonald