Up Close & Unplugged (May 2014)

What happens when you blend folk, blues roots, hill country, funk, and a touch of grunge edge to the mix? You get a unique outfit called The Swamp Box. Maria Cassar (vocals/guitar) and Ross Gregory (slide/lead guitar/vocals) are the core duo; with add on regular swamp dogs of Matt Short (drums) and Jamie Green (bass). Having a sound like no other, their vibe, energy, and performance are definitely worth checking out.

Cassar, a trained psychologist, imbues a cathartic resonance in voice, mannerisms, and body language and radiates an enormous presence. “I allow myself to be a vessel for people’s energy and feel it through my music, it’s like a spiritual experience.” Gregory, on the other hand, originally coming from metal bands brings his nuance of metal tinged with Native American beats, quite the contrast. Says Cassar, “Rosco and myself were originally a duo playing swampy music with lots of slide blues guitar and stomp box (percussions with his boot) while inviting other talented muso’s to throw their sound into the mix.  However, our sound has and still is metamorphing and changing constantly.”

For Cassar, its about sharing and bringing in melody and sound while involving people’s actual music space into the performance. Eventually as they fine tune their sound, Swamp Box plans to write and perform their originals and incorporate all the different influences and put their individual stamp on it in the process.

Gregory plays a 1932 Stella and Cassar has a little 67 Martin guitar. Often songs seem to magically transmute through their instruments and people say  ‘where did that song come from’, to which Cassar replies “I don’t know as often the instruments dictates what sounds come through.”  Interesting enough, I’ve heard this said before by talented musos.

Between them they have a lot of life experience. Cassar at age 19 was busking in Scotland and gaining an international ambiance to her work, while Gregory did the hard yards of metal, punk, and then some.  They originally met at a music party, jammed together and clicked.  Some time later Gregory asked her to do vocals with him at a local gig and its been happening ever since.  They now have a monthly residency, which is the first Friday of every month at Sound Bar in Rosebud.

Ultimately Swamp Box dream is to play to a large audience in Mississippi. By the way they are going, it probably won’t be too far off. Check Swamp Box out on Facebook, and for inquiries call Gregory on 0439 449 434.

Until next month… live well