Swamp pop gets its due at FAeC this weekend

by Todd Mouton

Legendary vocalists G.G. Shinn and Tommy McLain will be featured with The Creole String Beans from 4-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 at Festivals Acadiens et Creoles.

Creole String Beans

Celebrate the swaying and sultry sounds of swamp pop with a very special south Louisiana soul summit from 4-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 at the 42nd annual Festivals Acadiens et Créoles. That’s when New Orleans’ Creole String Beans will showcase their repertoire of new and vintage Fats-Domino-meets-fais-do-do sounds in the company of two of the band’s heroes, legendary vocalists G.G. Shinn and Tommy McLain.

The Creole String Beans’ magnetic horn-section-and-piano-laced arrangements have been filling south Louisiana dance floors since 2003. For their closing set in the venerable festival’s popular Salle de Danse (dancehall tent), the ensemble Chef John Besh calls “the best tasting band in New Orleans” will up the ante by featuring the talents of the two first-generation swamp-poppers.

“G.G. Shinn is true swamp pop royalty,” explains Creole String Beans guitarist and vocalist Rick Olivier, a White Castle, La. native who’s also a well-known photographer. “G.G.’s ‘64 to ‘66 stint with The Boogie Kings was the essence of a rough-yet-sophisticated sound that still stands as a benchmark of the swamp pop genre. His raw vocal ability is found only in the top ranks of soul vocalists, and our band’s reverence and respect for singers of this caliber is matched only by our excitement and honor of being able to share the stage with them.”

McLain, left, and Shinn

“1966 was a huge year for south Louisiana music,” Olivier adds, looking back to half a century ago. “That’s when Tommy McLain cracked the national market with his sublime version of ‘Sweet Dreams,’ showcasing a level of buttery vocal power that shot it to #15 on the Billboard charts. And McLain’s influence is still worldwide – he’s on Brit-star Lily Allen’s ‘eight favorite songs’ list, and hearing him backed by The Creole String Beans’ horn section will be a special thrill.”

Olivier’s bandmates also have long south Louisiana music résumés. Bassist and vocalist Rob Savoy is an alum of The Bluerunners and Cowboy Mouth (and if you’re really old-school Lafayette, The Rockin’ Shapes). Saxophonist Derek Huston is also a member of Roddie Romero & The Hub City All-Stars. Drummer Mike Sipos has been a longtime collaborator with recently departed songwriter David Egan, and keyboard player Brian Rini and saxophonist Travis Blotsky complete the band’s wall of swamp pop sound.

The Creole String Beans have played a long list of major South Louisiana festivals and concert series, welcoming musical guests including Warren Storm, T.K. Hulin and Jimmy Buffett to the stage for guest appearances. The group’s records have received widespread critical praise, and their third and latest release, Golden Crown, will be available at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles and can also be purchased via the Louisiana Music Factory.