Walter Parks, longtime guitarist sideman to Woodstock legend Richie Havens joins accordionist extraordinaire Rob Curto in presenting their self-described “Swampalachian” acoustic and roots style – a blend of reels, hollers, spirituals, and blues. Their project reimagines the historic soundtrack to the building of America reminding us all regardless of political and cultural diversity, that whereas an often painful history may bond us, we are nonetheless moved and united in the present day by the love of great music.
“The southern swamps mix with the Brazilian accordion when Walter and Rob meet,” says Keith Marks, Executive Director of Next Stage Arts. “Walter is a presence on stage, showcasing his talents as a guitarist, songwriter, and scholar. He spent time studying swamp hollers in the Okefenokee Swamp. When Walter performs, it causes you to take note. We’re thrilled to present this unique experience at Next Stage.”
In 2020 The American Folklife Collection of The Library of Congress featured and archived Parks’ research work on the music of Southeast Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp. For this new project with Curto, Parks has modernized the hollers, shaped-note hymns, and banjo porch songs performed by the swamp homesteaders. Parks was a founding member of the popular cello/guitar folk duo called The Nudes.
Since relocating to Philadelphia from New York, Curto has been passionately pursuing the Irish button box which has become a defining aspect of Parks and Curto’s swampalachian sound. Curto was a founding member of the “Brazilian Bluegrass” band Matuto, which gained a following across the US, Canada, and Europe and more recently he led the accordion-centric American roots band Fish Harmonics. Curto also currently studies under the tutelage of Irish button accordionist Billy McComiskey.
In their live show Parks and Curto frequently use back-stories to preface songs – be they historic or original compositions or the occasional tributes to Richie Havens.
Opener Jason Scaggs’s music began in the heart of Appalachia, his home state of Virginia, and that mountain sensibility shines through his music to this day. The twang of his guitar, much more assertive in his Jatoba days, has since been tempered with the addition of effects, looping, an indie flavor if you will. The pleasing result is a modern, full sound that belies it coming from one person.
About Next Stage
Next Stage Arts serves southeastern Vermont as a regional cultural hub, arts producer, and instigator of meaningful cultural experiences. Founded in 2010 as a nonprofit organization, Next Stage Arts is a transformative, community-centered project dedicated to revitalizing Putney’s cultural and economic village center through excellence in arts programming valuing diversity as a springboard for nurturing community.