Saturday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. — PUTNEY — Walter Parks and Rob Curto present “Swampalachian Trail” at Next Stage Arts.
Walter Parks, longtime guitarist sideman to Woodstock legend Richie Havens, joins accordionist Rob Curto to present “Swampalachian Trail.” The show is the “soundtrack” to the building of America encompassing historic songs of European and African origin with hollers, reels, spirituals, work songs and hymns, all manifested in a contemporary way.
With music and actual stories, “Swampalachian Trail” is a tribute to the many unsung folks who did the heavy lifting to create the infrastructure for the country as we know it today. In this non-religious, non-political, but historical show, we present slave spirituals, work songs and the blues and jazz to which both gave birth, alongside hymns and the Appalachian reels and hollers that poor European-American homesteaders contributed. We tie all these forms together with contemporary music inspired by the aforementioned. Parks also includes some originals and a few Richie Havens classics to mark his 10 years with the Woodstock legend.
In 2020 the American Folklife Collection Center at the Library of Congress featured and archived Parks’ research work on the music of southeast Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp. For this new project with Curto, Parks has modernized the hollers, shaped-note hymns and banjo porch songs performed by the swamp homesteaders. Parks was a founding member of the popular cello/guitar folk duo called The Nudes.
Since relocating to Philadelphia from New York, Curto has been passionately pursuing the Irish “button box,” which has become a defining aspect of Parks and Curto’s swampalachian sound. Curto was a founding member of the Brazilian bluegrass band Matuto, which gained a following across the U.S., Canada and Europe, and more recently he led the accordion-centric American Roots band, Fish Harmonics. Curto also currently studies under the tutelage of Irish button accordionist Billy McComiskey.
In their live show Parks and Curto frequently use back-stories to preface songs, be they historic or original compositions or the occasional tributes to Richie Havens.