It is not long after “Raw” starts, that the waves of Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark’s Harmonica playing gentle sweep through the speakers, giving us all a sneak preview of the great Harpfest to follow.
Originally hailing out of York, Pennsylvania, Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark now resides in Washington D.C. area where he is regarded as one of the best Harmonica players around. Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark has thrilled audiences up and down the East Coast, for years, with not only his masterful harmonica playing, but also for his amazingly talented showmanship. 2010 further brought Anthony to the spotlight with him winning the Washington D.C. Blues Battle, as well as, making it to the semifinals of this years 2011 International Blues Challenge, in Memphis. In addition to also being a staple at many Blues Festivals, Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark is also highly sought after as a player.
Joining Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark on “Raw”, is his amazing band, which he refers to as, The Blues Allstars and include Charles “Reds” Adkins (Bass), Ken Sparks (Guitar), Glenn Alexander (Guitar), and Andy Hamberger (Drums). “Raw” was produced by Anthony Clark with Andy Hamberger getting credit as Associate Producer. Special Guest appearances on “Raw”, included Nadine Rae and Linwood Taylor, both massive talents in their own rights, which they had no problem showing us with Nadine’s heavenly vocals on “Do Unto Others” and Linwood’s searing Guitar work on two instrumental Tracks “Jump” and “Moanin”.
“Raw” consists of 7 straight ahead no nonsense blues of which 5 Tracks are originals by Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark. For the covers on “Raw”, Anthony chose a couple of great songs, with the first being James Cotton’s “One More Mile To Go”. I found a few versions of “One More Mile To Go” in which one where James Cotton plays it real slow and the other is done at a fairly fast tempo. Anthony chose to play this one at pretty close to Cotton’s faster tempo version and after listening to the both of them, I must say that Anthony did a really good job and certainly justice to that fine song.
The second cover on “Raw” was “Hoochie Coochie Man”, which is “sometimes referred to as (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man“, and which is of course the “blues standard written by Willie Dixon and first performed by Muddy Waters in 1954“. WikiPedia has a list of over 30 Artists that have covered “Hoochie Coochie Man”, which included well known Blues artists, such as, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Etta James, and surprisingly enough a few artists for which when you think of the Blues, their names don’t come to mind, such as Supertramp, Motorhead, Steppenwolf, and the New York Dolls. Muddy Waters original version, which I found on YouTube clocked in at 2:53, and is perhaps one of the shortest versions of that song. Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark’s version clocks in at an epic 8:35, and for it’s shear rawness and intensity, courtesy Anthony’s great Vocals and Harmonica, as well as the rest of the bands great playing, this version of “Hoochie Coochie Man”, will certainly be considered an enormous tribute to Willie Dixon.
Beyond Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark’s amazing talent as an Harmonica player, he is also a very talented singer and songwriter, of which you become aware of his singing talent right off the bat, with the opening Track “One More Mile To Go” and his songwriting and arranging talent with the next 5 Tracks on “Raw”, of which 3 are wonderful instrumentals which show off, not only his skills with Harmonica, but also the wonderful talent of all the other artists involved with this production.
Picking a couple of favorites off an exceptionally good album, such as “Raw” is never easy, so I decided to pick my favorite regular song and my favorite instrumental, with the regular song being, the amazingly done cover “Hoochie Coochie Man” and the equally amazing instrumental, “Jump”.
“Raw” marked my first introduction to Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark, an introduction which thoroughly impressed me. I am very grateful for Anthony reaching out to me and acquainting me with his music, for which I hope he continues to put out on a fairly regular basis. “Raw” is an album I have no problem Highly Recommending, especially for those of you whom are fans of superb blues harmonica playing, for which Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark’s is one of the best out there today.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
With so many harp players like Charlie Musselwhite, Risk Estrin, Kim Wilson and James Cotton playing all over the circuit, other talented harp players stand a chance of being pushed into the background.
Such is the case with Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark. It’s a name that won’t ring a bell with too many blues fans all over the country. Only a good press agent and a heavy touring schedule can get any blues musician established. And if you’re not on a major record label, you’ll independently release it yourself.
The CD offers only seven tracks clocking in over thirty-five minutes. No writer credits indicate who wrote the tracks.
Altogether it’s a nice little package. Leading track “One More Mile To Go” with its rocking groove gets things off to the right start with Clark’s nicotine-inflected vocals and leading harp lines.
Shuffles are the carte blanche of the blues and here Anthony makes use of that in the dancer “Do Unto Others.” Clark doesn’t over-play. He can solo on the instrument but makes a point of keeping any hot-dog tendencies in check. It seems Anthony’s philosophy of playing the blues is always to approach it with a team attitude. Special guest Nadine Rae adds vocals to “Do Unto Others.”
With bassist Charles Adkins, drummer Andy Hamberger, and guitar players Ken Sparks and Glenn Alexander, Clark has truly assembled a tight outfit of musicians. Which truly helps if you’re going to get down to business of playing slow blues. This happens nicely in the basement dirty tune “Jump.” The band outright cooks as Clark’s levitating harp lines soar above the ensemble.
The energy picks up a few notches as the band shifts into a fast shuffle of the boogie blaster “Moanin.” Although it ends too quickly, the good time atmosphere continues in “Old Man” which in a live setting would go down like gangbusters for anybody wanting to let loose. Again Anthony’s harp playing is refrained and never going over-the-top into wild histrionics.
Clark loves them shuffles. So the “Swamp Dog Shuffle” is appropriately titled with the guitar players displaying hot chops with attitude. It could be the ultimate barn-burner on this cd as the whole band turns up the heat.
Final track “Hoochie Coochie Man” is a fitting finale. Ending a cd on a Muddy Waters number can be a positive thing and Clark does it proudly.
Taking on the role of a producer was a good move for Anthony. Rather than let these tunes be marred by over-production and unnecessary bells and whistle effects, he was able to create a live atmosphere as if this band was playing a blues jam on a Wednesday night. Raw truly sticks to a blueprint of authentic blues and certainly serves the purpose of making you catch boogie fever.
In an age where posers and wannabes want to clout you over the head with below par quality and brashness, Clark marches to his own drummer and is smart enough to realize that traditional blues can go a long way and still maintain a strong cult following for those who want to go to the clubs and have a good time.
With the right press juggernaut rolling behind him, Clark deserves a chance like anybody else to get booked into blues clubs across the states. No doubt a Friday or Saturday night audience would love this style of blues. Unless the man only does this as a part-time thing and has a steady day job. Maybe going on the road isn’t what he wants.
This journalist has never seen his name advertised. The greatest compliment that can be paid is remembering this name and catching this musician live at the nearest venue.
Seven tracks on the disc and it clocks in at just over thirty-five minutes. “One More Mile to Go” sets the tone, with a weathered voice, and a damn fine great rocking groove. The jazzy approach to “Do Unto Others” is a danceable song with excellent vocal support from guest Nadine Rae. Kenny Sparks plays quiet bluesy guitar lines with excellent driving bass from Charles Adkins. The harmonica solo that Anthony plays makes you snap your fingers.
“Swamp Dog Shuffle” could not have a better name. The band pushes themselves to exceptional musical heights. “Hoochie Coochie Man” closes the album and was a fitting tribute to Muddy Waters. So an excellent album, no bells or whistles, in an atmosphere like you would want to experience it live. Authentic, and rich. Anthony “Swamp Dog” and “Blues Allstars” definitely deserve your attention!
Review by Freddy Celis www.Rootstime.be
Over the past several months Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark has won the Washington, DC battle of the bands IBC competition, made it to the semi-finals at the actual IBC event in Memphis, TN, and released his debut CD, “Raw”. I call that being on a roll. Here’s to hoping the momentum continues and I hope what I have to say will help.
The disc contains seven straight up, no holds barred, “Raw” blues tracks, of which five are the Swamp Dog’s creations. Musically, Anthony – on vocals and harmonica – is joined by Charles “Reds” Adkins on bass, Ken Sparks and Glenn Alexander on guitar, and Andy Hamberger on drums. Collectively, along with special guest Nadine Rae on vocals and Linwood Taylor on guitar, they make up the Blues Allstars.
“Do Unto Others” is a body bobbing, toe tappin’ shuffle with enthusiastic rhythm, striking guitar leads, and brilliant harp playing. However, on a disc with about fifty percent instrumentals it’s the duet between the “Swamp Dog” and Nadine that highlight this one. I’m placing an early request for more of this on the follow up release.
Don’t let the title of this one fool you. “Jump” is not something the swing dancers will take to the floor on. As a matter of fact, Anthony could have easily called this one “Scorched”. This tracks all about the heat…the heat coming from scorching guitar and harmonica leads. The first five minutes of this seven minute instrumental are owned by Linwood. Dazzling would be a weak word to use as a description of this extraordinary guitarist’s performance. Throw in a few minutes of the “Swamp Dog” bringing the track to a wailing end and the excellent rhythm led by Charles – at disc’s best on the bass – and this one is the one to beat.
Now on the other hand, “Moanin” is right up the fast dancer’s alley. It’s got Anthony and Linwood heating it up, just as above, but with much added speed. This time it’s Andy at disc’s best, as he leads the way on rhythm with an unrelenting attack on the drums.
As the title might indicate, “Swamp Dog Shuffle” pretty much focuses on the “Swamp Dog”. Oh yeah, there’s a hot little guitar lead in there somewhere and the rhythm’s tightly in place, but on this instrumental it’s the band leaders time in the spotlight. Rising to the occasion, Anthony puts on as ferocious of an attack on a harmonica equal to any put on by the instruments legends. With the track having ended, a voice is heard saying “I liked that one, for damn sure”. So did I, Anthony.
Although it’s been covered by virtually every blues band with a harmonicist, and many without as well, this eight and a half minute version of “Hoochie Coochie Man” is certainly worthy of merit. As you’d expect from the song that’s been performed by legends of the instruments, the harp and guitar work are amazing. As a matter of fact, three and a half minutes into the track the vocals end and the next five minutes are filled with scorching back and forth harp and guitar leads. Very impressive.
Other tracks on “Raw” include” a cover of James Cotton’s “One More Mile To Go” and another original called “Old Man”.
You can check out Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark and the Blues Allstars by going to www.anthonyswampdogclark.com
. There, in addition to learning a lot more about the band, you’ll be able to tell him what the Blewzzman told you… “Senators & Congressmen and women aren’t the only people dishing out the blues in DC.”
Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark, blues entertainer, took the roof off the Chef Mac Restaurant last week on Harford Road with the “Down Home Blues. ”The music, man-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n! The music was out-of-sight. One of my favorite blues artist, Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark, performed with his band. He carried a black case full of harmonicas of all shapes, sizes and sounds and he was qualified to play them all. His backup musicians were very gifted and talented in their own right. My favorite tunes they played were “Down Home Blues” and “Black Drawers.”
Rosa Pryor Baltimore Afro-American News
Clark has formed a blues band that is taking the Washington, DC Blues scene by storm, and forging his way to international recognition with his blues/funk blend. In a little over a year. Clark and The Blues Allstars have made a name as one of the tightest blues bands in the region.
Michael Yoder Fly Magazine “- Michael Yoder, Fly Magazine (Mar 01, 2011)
” On My visit to Chef Mac’s, “Swamp Dog” was taking it to the rooftops. And his audience was not sitting down, even those who could not stand up, found ways of doing the lap dance, without a lap dancer.
Baltimore budget events | Examiner.com ” – Oswald Copeland, Examiner (Mar 05, 2011)
“Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark and The Blues Allstars (DC Blues Society) advanced to the semi-finals at the IBC, testimony to the quality of musicianship which exists in this region. Lucky we are to have such talent throughout the club scene in this area. ”
Diamond State Blues Society
“I’m from Louisiana and I never thought I’d hear real blues–good blues–in DC. Y’all are all amazing musicians; I’ll definitely be coming out to hear you again…”
– Sarah Kimmit, Fan (Apr 11, 2010)
“If you have not seen Swampdog and his band, you need to. They are a bad-ass funky blues band!!!”
– JP Reali, Fan