text by bill, photos by Jon Waits
Walter Parks — a tremendous solo artist, frontman of Swamp Cabbage, longtime guitarist for Richie Havens — put on a sublime show a couple of nights ago at the Tybee Post Theater. Swamp by Chandelier opened with Parks’ rendition of a traditional Okefenokee Swamp holler. I had read about some of the history of hollers and of the Okefenokee in Do Savannah before the show, but the haunting sound was new to me. Here’s a taste:
Long, lanky, and limber, the 50-something Parks is a charismatic figure on stage, and the Tybee show was punctuated with stories — of life on the road, of Okefenokee history, of the meetings of cultures, of the importance of experience. (Park told an especially funny story about taking a health-conscious friend from up north to Mrs. Wilkes’ for lunch. “Please pass the kale,” the visitor said at one point.)
In addition to adaptations of hollers, Parks performed beautiful songs from his extensive catalog, including a ballad about falling in love with his wife Margo, a bluesy ode to grits with butter, and an amazing guitar version of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The excellent drummer Paul Cooper came on and off stage as needed.
The sound was awesome at the Tybee Post Theater, and the staging was wonderfully dramatic — a large painting by Jeankarlos Cruz contrasted beautifully with the symbolic moss and the very real chandeliers.
Jon Waits is of course a regular contributor here at hissing lawns, but for this shoot he was actually hired by Walter Parks. Our thanks to Margo and Walter for letting us share a few of the images here. More after the jump.