For the uninitiated, “swamp pop” is a distinctive style of music that began in the 1950’s when Louisiana teenagers first heard new rock-n-roll idols like Guitar Slim, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino on the radio. Inspired by the fun, gutsy sound and wishing to emulate their idols, they traded in their fiddles and accordions for electric guitars and saxophones, blending the new radio sound with the Cajun music they heard growing up. The result was Cajun music with a more “rocking” flair…dubbed swamp pop.
Its most popular period was between 1958 to 1964, when nearly two dozen swamp pop recordings reached the national charts. Songs like “Walkin’ to New Orleans,” “Running Bear,” “Sea of Love,” “Mathilda,” “I’m Leaving It Up to You,” “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” and “Stop and Think It Over” were huge hits that reached the Billboard charts and are still enjoyed throughout south Louisiana today.
Swamp pop can be considered a mix of Cajun, creole, rhythm and blues, rockabilly, hillbilly, and rock-and-roll styles. It is its own unique form of Louisiana music alongside jazz, blues, and zydeco, but unlike those styles it is undeservedly not well known outside Louisiana. We hope that the increasing popularity of the Swamp Pop Music Festival we will change that!
For more information, see:
Twisting at the Fais Do Do: Swamp Pop in South Louisiana