A 2019 Parents’ Choice Silver Award and a 2019 National Parenting Product Award (NAPPA) winner! A Louisiana dance party for children filled with songs that evoke a joie de vivre, a zest for life, this recording offers a mélange of many of the Louisiana roots music styles we love, from the Cajun, zydeco, and swamp pop of South Louisiana; to the rhythm & blues, gospel, jazz, brass band, and street music of New Orleans; to the rock’n’roll of North Louisiana; along with a small side trip to Mississippi. We asked our musician friends who represent the best in each genre to record with us. The result, we hope, is a record that will be enjoyed equally by children, parents, and educators, and maybe even music fans who simply enjoy a good Louisiana tune. From our food to our music to our diverse cultural heritage, we open our hearts, homes, and tables to friends, family, and visitors. So come on in and join the fun. Allons danser! Bailemos! Let’s dance!
“Johnette and Scott pull out all the stops with this homage to Louisiana roots music, with a different musical style for most of the 15 songs and 1 adapted traditional song. These musical styles include swamp pop, Dixieland jazz, zydeco, mambo, doo-wop, fife and drum band, jazz with bamboula beat, Caribbean folk, R&B, ragtime, a cappella with hand clapping and foot stomping, rock and roll a la Jerry Lee Lewis, Latin, and gospel. These songs are accompanied by exceptional vocals and instrumental stylings on guitar, bass, ukulele, fiddle, timple (a traditional instrument of Tenerife), piano, organ, clarinet, cane fife, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, sousaphone, harmonica, accordion, washboard, drums and percussion. An enthusiastic children’s chorus joins in on three songs. “Swamp Romp” is an animal party in the Black Lagoon. “Who Got the Baby in the King Cake” will have to host the next party. Listeners are invited to a line dance in the “Mudbug Boogie.” In “It Wasn’t Me (The Possum Song),” the family blames all the mess son the possum. The young girl who worries about everything is called “Poor Worry Anna.” The bilingual traditional “J’ai Vu Le Loup, Le Renard et le Belette (I saw the wolf, the fox and the weasel) encourages listeners to move to the music. Learn how to spell the state name “Mississippi.” One can hear the “Bamboula Rhythm” all over New Orleans, but especially in Congo Square. “Gather Something Sweet” includes gathering bananas, strawberries, and watermelons. Wear “Your Best Pair of Shoes” when you dress up to go out. “How to Dress a Po’ Boy” celebrates that sandwich and how it is put together. “Crawfish Etouffee” is a celebration of another famous Louisiana culinary treat. “Get Ready, Get Set, Let’s Groove” and dance the “Twist,” the “Pony,” the “Swim,” and the “Sprinkler.” When the farmers take their produce to market, they ride in “Our Oxcarts,” a song in Spanish and English. The energetic “Stand Up, Jump Up” will have listeners hopping all over the room. The album closes with the gentle “Star in My Sky.” This outstanding album is a great introduction to youngsters of the sounds and rhythms of Louisiana.” —Bookworm Bev, Music album reviewer for School Library Journal and Judge for Fids and Kamily Awards, January 2019
“Its grooves and struts sound classically New Orleans ... a bunch of fun."
“Inspired by the music of New Orleans, Swamp Romp is a jubilant, original children's album, created to encapsulate the spirit of a Louisiana dance party. New Orleans native and award- winning musician Johnette Downing has combined her talent with veteran producer Scott Billington to craft a celebration that kids and adults will both enjoy! Highly recommended.” — Children's Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review, Volume 29, Number 1, January 2019
“This collection of Cajun, Dixieland jazz, New Orleans R&B and more will have you throwing a Louisiana dance party in your living room. This album is upbeat and fun and will definitely get your little ones moving and grooving.” — 2019 Easter Basket Gift Guide for Kids, Chasing Super Mom
"Swamp Romp is full of talent and intent. There are so many thoughtful details in the production and such a high level of musical ability, with so many great players. Every track has something special, with deep musicality throughout.” —John Snyder, Chair, Film and Music Industry Studies, Loyola University, and Grammy-winning producer
"(Johnette Downing) has made tremendous contributions to books and music that celebrate New Orleans and Louisiana." ~ NOLA Family magazine
"If you’re going down the bayou, you might as well bring along a bunch of top-notch supporting players."
“Swamp Romp,” is the brand new Louisiana dance party album from Johnette and Scott. Johnette is a well-known musician and children’s book author, and Scott is a 3-time GRAMMY winning producer and A&R director at Rounder Records.” It’s a tasty gumbo of awesome music that your family will love. Johnette and Scott have created “a tasty mélange of musical styles which is reflected in these 15 child-friendly songs (mostly original; one was adapted traditional Cajun tune).” Be sure to listen to the song ‘Bamboula Rhythm’ and learn about what the Bamboula Rhythm is from the brand new album ‘Swamp Romp”. This episode is a blast of Mardi Gras joy!” - Michael Mason, Good Stuff Kids
“Johnette Downing’s Swamp Romp is a year- round Louisiana dance party packed with Mardi Gras spirit. Downing and Scott Billington have captured the danceable delight of Louisiana roots music in a well-produced collection of (mostly) original songs. “Poor Worry Anna” is a smooth retro homage to the worrywart in our lives. “Bamboula Rhythm” features an outstanding horn section. The traditional accordion, fiddle and rhythms are here, along with some lovely flute work on the delightful “Mississippi River.” Downing’s throaty vocals lend intimacy to the whole shebang. It’s a wonderful introduction to this Pied Piper of Louisiana music traditions and her collection of music and books.” – Kathy O’Connell, MetroKids
"Created by Heather Stanley, the whimsy and joy of the cover art perfectly captures the Louisiana roots music featured on the album."
~ Kids Rhythm and Rock
NAPPA Awards Winner 2019
Get ready for a Louisiana dance party with Swamp Romp. This wonderful collection is created by multi-award winning children’s musician and author Johnette Downing and her three-time Grammy Award winning husband Scott Billington. With Cajun, Dixieland jazz, New Orleans R&B, brass band and Isleño original tunes performed by an all-star cast of musicians, this recording is a tour of Louisiana roots music styles for the entire family. So move the furniture and roll up the rug, it’s time to Swamp Romp!
From our music judge:
“Swamp Rock succeeds on first listen as Downing and Billington serve up a feast of fun tunes, like “It Wasn’t Me (The Possum Song),” “Mudbug Boogie,” and the title track, for little ones to enjoy. What makes this CD something special is how it delivers a wonderful gumbo of the sounds of New Orleans. Downing and Billington have done a terrific job of involving many of the city’s talented musicians (including the legendary soul singer Irma Thomas) to make this album sound magnificent. Songs touch upon pretty familiar styles, such as Cajun, gospel, and early rock ‘n’ roll ala Fats Domino, but the CD also introduces listeners to lesser-known ones, like the bamboula rhythm and North Mississippi Fife and Drum music. Parents and kids will both want to read the CD’s excellent booklet that explains the songs’ backstories and the various musical styles, as well as telling the origin story of the Po’ Boy sandwich.”
2019 Parents’ Choice Silver Award
New Orleans-based, award-winning musician, singer and author, Johnette Downing presents the music and history of her Louisiana roots Swamp Romp, her tenth recording for children. Downing’s strong, expressive alto is supported by a fine group of players including ace harmonica player and producer Scott Billington. Contained within is a generous gumbo of fifteen original compositions, and a stellar bilingual arrangement of the traditional “J’Ai Vu Loup, Le Renard Et La Belette” (“I Saw the Wolf, the Fox and the Weasel”) sung as a duet with fiddler Joel Savoy and famed accordionist Roddle Romero. Both Cajun and Zydeco styles are explored on such fun songs as “Mudbug Boogie,” the Mambo-infused “It Wasn’t Me (the Possum Song)” and a beautiful duet with the legendary Irma Thomas on the 50s-style doowop of “Poor Worry Anna.” Rivers and wetlands are celebrated in the rocking title track and the tongue twisting spelling song “Mississippi River.” The New Orleans mixing of cross-cultural musical styles is aptly demonstrated in “Bamboula Rhythm,” powered by Kirk Joseph’s percussive sousaphone (tuba) playing. “Gathering Something Sweet” takes a short and delicious detour to the Caribbean, while “Your Best Pair of Shoes” is a classic Fats Domino/Allen Toussaint-style rhythm aided by members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. N’Orleans dietary delicacies as Po’Boy (on “How to Dress a Po’Boy”) and the acapella “Crawfish Etoufée” are given tasty arrangements. The rich cultural contributions of Spanish Canary Islanders (Isleños) to New Orleans communities is celebrated in “Our Oxcarts,” while “Stand Up, Jump” is a great movement song backed by The McCray Sisters and a kid chorus. The album closes with the beautiful, lilting “Star in My Sky.” Eco-friendly packaging holds a beautifully illustrated booklet of lyrics and song annotations, making this a must have for teaching children about the marvelous melting pot of cultures that makes up New Orleans.
Lahri Bond ©2019 Parents’ Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.