21 February 2016


One of the best bands I heard at The French Quarter Festival in New Orleans during April 2016 was The Palmetto Bug Stompers. I caught their performance on the French Market Stage on April 10th.
I had never seen the band in person before, even though I was aware that they had been in existence for at least fifteen years and that there are many good videos of them on YouTube.

Why did I think they were so good? Well, it begins with their rhythm section, which pulsates and drives in the best New Orleans tradition, without ever being too loud. They do not use a drum kit: instead, a washboard, guitar and bass work together as one man. And there is equally good taste in the 'front line' where the musicians listen well to each other, and interweave their patterns with beauty and subtlety. The tone is set by Will Smith on trumpet, who is not one of those exhibitionist trumpet-players who scream around the high notes just for the sake of it. Instead, he shows respect for the melodies and the soul of the music. So the band plays with good taste, and yet builds up excitement in a controlled way.

Where I stood, at the side of the band and in the middle of a large, noisy, jostling crowd, it was very difficult to take a video. I tried; and the result may be seen if you CLICK HERE. (One of the problems with the crowded Festival events is that it is sometimes more difficult to enjoy the bands than when they are playing in smaller, more intimate venues, where audience comfort and acoustics are better.)

May I recommend this band to you? Watch some more of their YouTube videos. And, if you ever get the chance, aim to see them.