The Duke and The Swamp Donkeys


Last weekend was truly eventful! I was down in deepest East Kent covering the Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Jazz Festival but a good jazz friend had tipped me off that The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys were starring at The Duke Of Cumberland in Whitstable on Sunday afternoon during their UK “Brexit Hot Jazz Tour”.

So having contacted the Duke and The Swamp Donkeys I headed for Whitstable with my pal Peter Clifford to film them. My YouTubes tell it as it was – brilliant jazz, brilliant entertainment – and The Duke was packed with fans young and older.

I had packed the lens away to head back for Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle when The Swamp Donkeys launched into this version of “St James Infirmary”. Sensing it was going to be something special, I re-geared as quickly as possible! It’s “St James Infirmary” Swamp Donkey Style!


“A Swamp Donkey is a member of a New Orleans based traditional jazz band that plays old style jass from the 1900s – 1930s.”

“The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys are an extremely versatile group of young musicians who play traditional jass, blues, vaudeville, original music, modern jazz adaptations, and many other jazz and New Orleans-derived styles. They started in the authentic, New Orleans, grassroots music scene, playing local festivals and second lines, and transitioned into world-class music programs, festivals, and events, playing in concerts all over the globe. Their sound is enormously accessible with their frontman, the Louis Armstrong-sounding, soulful and sweet James Williams.”

Be sure to view their own movies on:

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

(YouTubes © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

An Afterthought:

Back at Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Pete Lay mentioned to me his Editorial in this July’s Issue of Jazz&Jazz. It’s very pertinent:

Where are the younger bands and where is the younger audience?

“Bringing in younger bands to jazz clubs and festivals doesn’t guarantee that young audiences will follow. And, not only that, it doesn’t guarantee that the regular club/festival goers are willing to push out their comfort zone to try something new.

“In today’s world, young people have a plethora of entertainment options at the tap of a screen, a veritable ‘supermarket’ of choice. And they employ ‘smart’ m marketing techniques through social media to reach a vast audience. They don’t seem to embrace the monthly or bi-monthly jazz club and festival circuit as we know it.

“How do we encourage the younger bands to come to clubs or festivals if he regular attendees are reticent to spend on something they think they might not like? Do we take a gamble? Do we come up with brilliant marketing schemes as well?

“Or do we continue on with the status quo, bemoaning the fact that audiences are dwindling and clubs are folding? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, So perhaps it’s time to gamble, to push out of the comfort zone and try something new to achieve a new result.

“Anybody game? You tell me”

Pete Lay
Editor, Just Jazz

Pete, I wonder if our clubs and ageing fans would react as positively to The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys and other younger bands I have featured on Jazz&Jazz as did The Duke of Cumberland fans to The Swamp Donkeys. On a positive note, fans reacted very, very favourably when Hippocampus Jass Gang featured at The Bay Jazz Club, Enfield.

Cheers, Peter

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  1. Adrian Watkins says:

    In answer to the question on “where are the younger bands and where is the younger audience?” We need our very own version of Joan Chamorro. Failing that, how do we get him and “The kids” over here to show the way?

  2. Peter Butler says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve featured Joan and St Andreu quite a bit on Jazz&Jazz and will be seeing them again at Fest Jazz in a couple of weeks time, Here is just one of my posts – Andrea Motis at Pizza Express Jazz Club:

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