Bath Blues & Jazz fest kicks off Friday

Hot Springs, Va. – The Virginia Blues and Jazz Festival is this weekend at Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs. The Honey Island Swamp Band is part of Saturday’s lineup. The group is from New Orleans, and its sound has been described as bayou Americana, boogie roots rock and swamp funk. Chris Mule’ plays electric guitar and is the lead vocalist for the group.

“Most of our songs that we do come from something real, that more or less really happened or something we’ve experienced or lived through,” says Mule’. “Hopefully people will kind of realize that and take home a couple of stories with them to remember. Of course, you know, hopefully the songs are catchy enough that they’ll remember the melodies and bring home a catchy tune with them.”

The band came together as a result of being displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mule’ and friend Aaron Wilkinson were both playing in Eric Lindell’s band and happened to be performing in San Francisco when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. They were stranded and then met up with two other New Orleans musician friends, Sam Price and Garland Paul. The four put together a New Orleans band on the west coast and started getting regular gigs. It would be a year before Mule’ moved back to New Orleans and then they all decided to keep the band together.

Music break: “Chocolate Cake” Honey Island Swamp Band

“We’re a dedicated band of having a real band, which means you’re going to see the same five or even six or seven guys every time you come see us,” says Mule’. “It’s not going to be Hey, who’s that in the band today?’ After Hurricane Katrina and all the craziness, it made me feel good to have something consistent that I could count on all the time and see the same guys having a good time, and know that we started this as friends and not just as a means of income or anything. We all knew each other, we knew how each other played music, we enjoyed playing music together.”

The Virginia Blues and Jazz Festival kicks off Friday night June 15 with swinging jazz by Catherine Russell. Saturday June 16 is music outside from 12:30 to 6:30 with The Bert Carlson Quartet, Group Fantasma, The Honey Island Swamp Band and headliner The Robert Cray Band. And the festival wraps up on Sunday June 17 with a New Orleans brunch featuring more music by the Honey Island Swamp Band. For ticket information contact Garth Newel Music Center at 877-558-1689 or on the web visit

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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