Category Archives: Ponderosa Stomp On The Road

The Genius of Swamp Dogg – Sam Stone and God Bless America For What

Possessed of a voice that writer Robert Christgau likened to “An Afro-American air raid siren,” Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams is as underappreciated and misunderstood as he is irreverent and irrepressible. Having hovered in and around the margins of America’s musical underground for his entire career, the Dogg’s lamentable tendency for “Buzzard Luck,” as his song so memorably once put it, also happens to be his greatest strength: he refuses to be pigeonholed, is virtually impossible to dilute, and simply cannot be taken sitting down. He is the type of artist who causes commercially-minded A&R men to throw their arms up in sheer frustration and despair. This bristling musical activist didn’t start out this way; he recorded prolifically during the sixties as Little Jerry Williams, helped organize the famed Muscle Shoals horn section and wrote songs and produced records for Irma Thomas, Z.Z. Hill and Doris Duke, to name just a few.

But some time around the apex of the Vietnam War something within him cracked. By 1970 this self-proclaimed “Ph.D. in Niggerism” was mad as hell, and he wasn’t going to take it any more. That year he released Total Destruction of Your Mind under his newly adopted canine moniker and the next two years brought Rat On and Cuffed, Collared and Tagged. The Dogg had arrived and America’s musical landscape would never be the same. Here was a soul philosopher who not only rhapsodized about the mysteries of love and the temptations of cheating, but had a bullshit detector built into his brain — set to red alert at all times — that drove him to confront hypocrisies head-on. The rare artist who can bring his audience from laughter to tears and back again in a single sitting, Swamp Dogg’s one-of-a-kind brand of socially-conscious country soul practically defies description. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover even took note, tapping his phone line and adding him to his secret list of citizens involved in “Un-American” activities.

Here then, are two of his most cripplingly beautiful performances, two critiques of our country that sadly ring as timelessly true today as they did when he first recorded them forty years ago. “Sam Stone,” the brutal tale of the tragic life and death of a returning war veteran, is one of those songs that appear to have been lost in the wilderness shortly after its creation, just waiting for the artist it was destined for to come along and discover it. Written and originally recorded by John Prine, for “Sam Stone” Swamp Dogg was just that artist. Prine’s lyrics are disturbingly, ingeniously graphic – in fact, it’s safe to say that it would be impossible to write a song on this subject as darkly effective as this one – and their brilliance is only matched by the Dogg’s heart-breaking delivery, giving it the voice and gravitas it longed for.

Swamp Dogg” Sam Stone

Torn from the same page of frank and unnerving truth-telling comes “God Bless America For What?,” this time from Swamp Dogg’s own pen. Although recorded before “Sam Stone,” it seems almost descended from it, making its point from a sweeping historical perspective rather than a personal one. With “God Bless America (For What)?,” he tackles the conditions that led to the unraveling and eventual demise of Sam Stone and countless others like him, entreating his audience to unite across color and religious divides to help reconcile the country’s glaring inequities with its founding promises of individual freedoms and justice for all.

Swamp Dogg: God Bless America For What

Now, without further ado, let the Dogg bring you what he promised from the very beginning: Total Destruction of Your Mind.

The Ponderosa Stomp is proud to present Swamp Dogg performing in New York at Lincoln Center on August 12th, 2012 at 6pm.

Swamp Dogg- The World Beyond – Song of the Day

Perhaps the only post-apocalyptic deep soul song ever- brilliantly re-interpreted by Swamp Dogg. “The soul genius that time forgot” will be performing October 4th, 2013 at the Ponderosa Stomp. Swamp Dogg – The World Beyond

Song of the Day: “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore, a featured chanteuse at this Saturday’s “She’s Got the Power!” showcase It’s a party this Saturday, thrown by the Ponderosa Stomp in partnership with Lincoln Center Out of Doors: “She’s Got the Power!”, a girl-group extravaganza featuring Ronnie Spector, LaLa Brooks, and – yes – Lesley Gore of “It’s My Party” fame, not too mention numerous other chanteuses from the Swinging Sixties: Arlene Smith (former … Continue reading Song of the Day: “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore, a featured chanteuse at this Saturday’s “She’s Got the Power!” showcase

Song of the Day: “Tell Him” by the Exciters, appearing at “She’s Got the Power!” on July 30 in New York

Beverly Warren, Brenda Reid, and Lillian Walker of the Exciters will be among the girl-group legends appearing this Saturday, July 30, as part of “She’s Got the Power!,” a joint presentation by the Ponderosa Stomp and Lincoln Center Out of Doors. The concert in New York runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and is … Continue reading Song of the Day: “Tell Him” by the Exciters, appearing at “She’s Got the Power!” on July 30 in New York

Spyder Turner – Stand By Me – Song of the Day

Jaded ears may be crying over hearing this warhorse again. This horse can still kick however in the hands of a master. Case in point – Detroit vocalist Spyder Turner’s version. This novelty take of “Stand By Me” includes impersonations of Jackie Wilson, David Ruffin, Billy Stewart, Chuck Jackson and Smokey Robinson and comes from … Continue reading Spyder Turner – Stand By Me – Song of the Day