The Legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: The Swampers

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
by John Anderson

The Legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: The Swampers

Stage on Sixth Patio, Thursday, March 14

Their set list read like that of a wedding band from the Seventies. Yet these guys were the originators. The riffs they played and grooves they laid down were their own. The Swampers these days are bassist David Hood and guitarist Jimmy Johnson, but they were joined by an impressive array of Alabamans, including guitarist Will McFarlane, who's played with Bonnie Raitt and Bobby "Blue" Bland. After judiciously chosen party starters "Mustang Sally" and "When a Man Loves a Woman," they brought out Spooner Oldham, writing partner with Dan Penn and keyboard player with numerous artists, introducing him as the first sideman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Oldham sang a sultry "Sweet Inspiration" and delicate yet savory "I'm Your Puppet." Donna Jean Thatcher Godchaux, best known for her time with the Grateful Dead, joined in for a fevered version of Sam Cooke's "(Don't Fight It) Feel It." Hood led a down-home rendition of "Respect Yourself" with Godchaux and ex-Drive-by Trucker Shonna Tucker adding necessary Staples Singers gospel feel. "Jimmy engineered this," someone shouted proudly before they ended with a lusty version of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar." They sounded magnificent, the rhythms were funky, but, truthfully, the set was too brief to be satisfying.

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