For the guys of Honey Island Swamp Band (HISB), Katrina was almost as much of a blessing as a curse. Stranded in San Francisco with just their gig playing with Eric Lindell, Aaron Wilkinson and Chris Mule knew they needed to find more places to play to get by.
In a chance meeting that could only be the work of the muses, they ran into Garland Paul and Sam Price at the Boom Boom Room, and in an attempt to keep busy and make some extra cash, HISB was born.
“We were just thinking, it would be great if there were a couple other New Orleans guys that we could team up with while we have our nights off from playing our regular gig,” Mule says. “Everybody needed something to do.”
The Boom Boom Room let them start a weekly gig on Sunday nights. “That became our rehearsal time,” Wilkinson adds.
Now, almost five years later, HISB has a second album, Good to You, two Best of the Beat trophies, and a gig on the Fais Do-Do Stage.
“The Fais Do-Do has a lot of Americana, which is really the best way to describe what we do,” Wilkinson says.
“That’s to me what New Orleans music is about,” Mule says. “It’s not just about jazz, blues, funk; it’s about everything.” With that in mind, the band augmented its lineup for Good to You.
“We brought in the pedal steel on a few things; we brought in the same horn section. It’s a mixed bag,” Wilkinson says.
The band’s success means no more scrounging for extra gigs.
“We’re happy that we have enough work that we don’t have to do that, we get the opportunity to focus on one thing,” Wilkinson says. “Everybody played in a lot of different bands before this, but now we are all coming together for this thing. We see it working.”