Swamperella Press Kit

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Swamperella is not only Canada’s own Cajun/Zydeco band w 25 years under their shiny belts - Swamperella is an experience!

What puts the swamp into Swamperella?

Driving accordions -Gutsy fiddling- Sultry vocals and a Killer rhythm section that pumps out a ’cant sit still ’ authentic Cajun / Zydeco groove.

Whether acoustically, at back porch b b q s, street parties or in barns, or plugged in for large festival stages and massive corporate events, Swamperella will captivate audiences with infectious rhythms and impassioned melodies. Since 1997 Swamperella is known for spreading the Cajun/ Zydeco Gospel, both traditional and homegrown, all over Canada. The band has shared performances with notable trad. greats such as Tracy Scwartz and Louisiana’s own Mamou Playboys as well having been accompanied by The Niagara Symphony Orchestra!

With authentic pride in the Cajun and Zydeco tradition, Swamperella’s heart felt vibe and magnetic dance grooves, deliver unforgettable performances.

The hallmark of a Swamperella event is Fun! Fun! Fun!...and of course those enthusiastic crowds, big or small, that can’t help but bust out their dance moves!

Now, if you are wondering how you spell Swamperella? Try this.....P A R T Y ! Laisser faire’ is not part of the Swamperella vocabulary.

’Laisser les bons temps rouler!’- now that’s more like it!

Who is Swamperella?

Soozi Schlanger - fiddles, vocals and washboard
Peter Jellard - accordion, fiddles and vocals
Conny Nowe - rhythm guitar
Rachel Melas - acoustic and electric bass
Dave MacDougall - drums and percussion


Contact Information

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Reviews:  What the critics say about Swamperella

LARSON'S GALLERY, Saturday's Big Party, July 7th, 2013, Larson Heinonen

. . . I came back to hear Swamperella play on the Main Stage. Their interpretations of old Cajun and Creole Ballads had the audience dancing and singing along. Those whose appreciation was less active (like myself), were clapping, moving in their seats to the beat or tapping their feet. I do not often see this kind of audience participation and appreciation in public venues but Swamperella is just that good. Swamperella promised us a good time and they delivered. I can not find adjectives to properly praise them. Today, when I go back to NLFB, I will buy one of their Cds. That's the best I can do. I want more Swamperella. They were far better than any big name at the Festival I have seen so far.

PENGUIN EGGS, Summer 2013, Issue No. 57, Doug Swanson

Who says you have to be born in the bayou to play authentic, inspired and zesty Cajun music? This Toronto-based zydeco unit consists of Soozi Schlanger (vocals, fiddle, washboard), Peter Jellard (vocals, accordion, fiddle), Conny Nowé (guitar) and Rachel Melas (bass).

This is an infectious, rollicking disc that justifies the exhortations on the album jacket to dance, dance, dance. There are a few originals, including the title track, a smattering of traditionals and a handful of covers - a classic gumbo. With only nine tracks, do you call it a long EP or a short album?

This is a terrific Cajun-themed release, the fourth in the band's history, a vibrant effort that deserves a listen from zydeco fans regardless of where they hail from.

LE CRI DU COYOUTE, Noix de Cajun, Juin-Juillet, 2013, No. 134, Bernard Boyat

". . . de la part d'un groupe non québecois, Swamperella (nom qui fait penser à Cinderella, ça sonnerait bien les Cendrillons des Bayous) . . . un quatrième album dans la vraie tradition cadienne. Pas d'interférences musicales incongrues ici, les six reprises sont bien dans l'esprit. Ils y ajoutent trois compos, qui semblent bien refléter les antécédents ou les goûts musicaux de leurs compositeurs : Leopard skin coat (Soozi) est un superbe rock'n'roll cadien, Le vieux vigneron (Peter), est un instrumental entraînant, un peu celtique, et Gander (Soozi) est plus zydéco. Voilà qui donne vraiment envie de connaître leurs parutions antérieures ... top notch "

NOW Toronto, New Releases, February 14-20, 2013, Issue 1621 Vol. 32 No. 24, Sarah Greene

Cajun/zydeco group Swamperella have an antidote to the winter blues: dancing. The band's fourth album is the perfect sound track for ice skating (something I personally tested out) or any activity involving movement.

Though they're from Toronto, the five piece display an exuberance and enthusiasm for Cajun music that's as infectious as it is DIY and punk rock - they aren't purists, and let bits of rock'n roll silliness slip in throughout the album's traditional Cajun tunes and originals sung in English and French.

The warm, live-sounding production makes Leopard Skin Coat sound like it could've been released at any point in the past 20 years, though some of the cover songs are much older than that. And it's not all a party. They end with a wailing, mournful rendition of the Balfa Brothers' Valse De Balfa.

Top track: Marid Gras Jig / Zydeco Est Pas Salé, Rating: NNNN (out of 5)

GOLDMINE, New Releases, September 30, 2005, Vol 31, No 20, issue 657, Hank Davis

Swamperella, the Toronto Cajun band, have just produced their second CD, Black Cat Boogie, and I'm falling in love with their music all over again ...The 17 tracks on Black Cat provide plenty of opportunity to dance, but they also remind you that Cajun music is often melodic and beautiful.... The disc kicks off with the joyous and infectious "La Crep A Nazare," which positively sizzles.   Fiddle player Soozi Schlanger, who pours her Cajun soul into the vocals, offers a wonderful reading on "Braille Pas, Jolis Petits Yeux Bleux," a song as bluesy as it is beautiful...Special notice goes to the CD's closer, the amazing "Les Barres De La Prison."  Ad some surface noise and it would be right at home on an anthology of Cajun music from 1932.

THE LIVE MUSIC REPORT, Review of Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, July 2005, Joyce Corbett

"A crowd pleaser? Oh yeah. This band had more people up dancing on the burning concrete of Nathan Phillips square than any group I’ve seen at the festival... they show themselves to be darned good musicians.  Peter Jellard is a creative artist on button accordions ... Full review

PENGUIN EGGS, , Recordings, Spring 2005, Paul-Émile Comeau

"... This group paddles through the swampy terrain with a keen sense of direction. .... Soozi Schlanger's .... fiddle playing is gritty enough to sound authentic.  Even if Swamperella wasn't close to being the only Cajun Band in Canada it would probably still be the best in the land"

NIAGARA HOT SPOTS.CA, WASHBOARDS AND WALTZES, Swamperella Wins Over Brock Crowd, Friday, March 18, 2005

"... Highlights of the evening included the sombre Braille Pas, Jolis Petits Yeux Bleus recalling the heartbreak of a young couple forced to separate by the girl’s parents, the self-described “corny” number and CD title track, Black Cat Boogie (“You know things are bad when you’re writing love songs to your pets,” quipped Schlanger) and the rollicking tribute to the Swamperella’s main haunt in Toronto, The Hotel Gladstone Two Step....  the band displayed a subtle versatility illustrating that they have an authentic understanding of Cajun music."

EXTRA, Indie Beat - review of Black Cat Boogie, December, 2004  

"The band plays with high-spirited proficiency - its rather infectious. ... The sombre yet cozy instrumental Waltz of Too Many  Goodbyes has an authentic feel and sound.  The band softly caresses Schlanger's words on the splendid Waltz for One.  Other killer tracks: Je t'Aime Encore and Hotel Gladstone Two Step."

JAMES WEGG REVIEW.COM, Niagara Symphony Orchestra Concert Review: Cajun Crew Warms the Heart, 2004. James Wegg

"Hmm, hmm, good!  Chef Daniel Swift oversaw a delectable banquet of savoury sounds and musical fun as he steered the good ship NSO “Down the Mississippi into the Bayou” Saturday night.  On board for the fast-paced excursion was the Cajun quintet “Swamperella,” whose down-home no nonsense stylings ....sizzled and swayed throughout Sean O’Sullivan Theatre. ... ... As lead fiddle, vocalist and artist in her other life, Soozi Schlanger oozes buckets of enthusiasm, zest and an infectious smile that makes it a pleasure to be in the same room.  From the opening bars of “Bosco Stomp” it was clear that her vision and passion was equally shared by the rest of the group.  Peter Jellard’s one-row button accordion, whether pumping out the tune or punching up the chords was a constant pleasure."  Full review

NOW, Music Feature. Swamperella bring the swing of the South to Toronto, February 21, 2002, Sarah Liss

"(The) band opened for Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys (Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg, 2002) 'the biggest Cajun band out of Louisiana'. One of the highlights of (the) trip was getting the thumbs-up from an authentic Louisiana Cajun band. Toronto's a far cry from the Bayou, so the Mamou Playboy's seal of approval gives Swamperella some down-home credibility."

GOLDMINE,New Releases: Björk, Passenger, Prince, Swamperella, B.B. King and more.., November 2001, Hank Davis

"This CD and the group that produced it are one of the sweetest musical surprises I've encountered in years....The last thing one expects to hear is a Cajun band playing the kind of music heard in a juke joint in Lafayette some 50 years ago. Swamperella has become a Cajun lightning rod. How good is this album? Comes very close to acoustic and follows some of the deepest Cajun traditions."

L'EXPRESS, Musique, August 12, 2001, Dominique Denis

"In this age of sampling, where sounds from around the globe have become little more than ingredients in a constantly changing gumbo, its pretty rare to find a musician who would show such concern for the integrity of her musical sources." Full article

THE TORONTO STAR, Arts & Entertainment Guide, March 22, 2001, Geoff Chapman

"The femme quotient makes for fascinating two-part harmonies on the CD -- Cajun country isn’t exactly a haven for female singers -- and the group has no problem incorporating languorous country licks, Celt-style fiddling and a touch of the blues, with most lyrics sung in Louisiana French." "This is the music of western Louisiana, authentic old style with a smattering of original material tossed into the southern stew. It’s sentimental to be sure, but pumps with life"

THE TORONTO STAR, Club Notes, February 18, 1999, Ben Rayner

" ...despite the purist aesthetic, Swamperella is hardly an exercise in dry musicology. This is, above all, a party band, and a spirit of wry fun cuts through even its most mournful material"

EYE MUSIC, August 13, 1998, Erin Hawkins

"There’s five of ‘em but singer / fiddle player Soozi Schlanger is the singular embodiment of Swamperella, a name that brings to mind a brassy dame tramping through the bayou with gators in tow, ball-gown covered in mud."

TORONTO WEST JOURNAL, February 1998, Doug Baker

"If you like to dance or enjoy country music check out the Cajun Dance nights at the Gladstone hosted by Swamperella. This is real country...."


Swamperella - Past Performance Highlights

September 2019 Franco-Fête Toronto, ON
August 2018 Union Station Toronto, ON
July 2018 Commerce Court Toronto, ON
August 2017 The Opinicon Resort Elgin, ON
August 2016 Hot and Spicy Festival, Harbourfront Toronto, ON
August 2016 Blue Skies Festival Clarendon Station, ON
June 2015 TD Toronto Jazz Festival Toronto, ON
August 2015 Cob and Cut Festival Sault Ste. Marie, ON
July 2015 Franco-Fête, Dundas Square Toronto, ON
June 2015 TD Toronto Jazz Festival Toronto, ON
June 2015 Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival Orangeville, ON
August 2014 World Pride Festival Toronto, ON
June 2014 TD Toronto Jazz Festival Toronto, ON
January 2014 Winterfolk Toronto, ON
August 2013 Harbourfront Hot and Spicy Festival Toronto, ON
August 2013 Toronto Music Garden Toronto, ON
August 2013 Oakville Jazz Festival Oakville, ON
July 2013 Northern Lights Festival Boréal Sudbury, ON
July 2013 TD Toronto Jazz Festival Toronto, ON
August 2012 Oakville Jazz Festival Oakville, ON
August 2012 Taste of the Danforth Toronto, ON
March 2012 Macdougall Concert Hall Ormstown, PQ
March 2012 Irene's Pub Ottawa, ON
February 2012 Mardi Gras at the Dakota Tavern Toronto, ON
February 2012 l'Alliance Française Toronto, ON
August 2011 Oakville Jazz Festival Oakville, ON
August 2011 Concerts in the Park Bobcaygeon, ON
August 2010 La Grande Rencontre Montreal, PQ
August 2010 Stratford Summer Music Stratford, ON
May 2010 Fort George Niagara on the Lake, ON
March 2010 Silver Dollar Room Toronto, ON
October 2009 The Ship St John's, NFLND
August 2009 Summerfolk Owen Sound, ON
August 2009 Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival Oakville, ON
August 2009 Millrace Folk Festival Cambridge, ON
July 2009 Festival du Loup Penatanguishine, ON
June 2009 Toronto City Roots Festival Toronto, ON
June 2009 Festival Franco Ontarien, Ottawa City Hall Ottawa, ON
August 2008 Elora Festival for the Performing Arts Elora, ON
August 2008 Voyageurs' Musicfest Batchawana Bay, ON
February 2008 Club Regent Casino Winnipeg, MB
August 2007
Riverfolk Music and Arts Festival Manchester, MI, USA
August 2007 Stratford Summer Music Festival Stratford, ON
First Annual Leslieville Catfish Festival and Cook-Off Toronto, ON
August 2006 Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival Oakville, ON
August 2006
Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France Quebec City, PQ
August 2006 Kelso Hall Elgin, PQ
July 2006
Home County Folk Festival London, ON
October 2005
The Lighthouse Festival Theatre
Port Dover, ON
Sept. 2005
Toronto City Roots Song Celebration Toronto, ON
August 2005
Oshawa Jazz and Blues Festival Oshawa, ON
August 2005 Hornby Island Festival Hornby Island, BC
July 2005 Filberg Festival
Comax, BC
July 2005 Islands Folk Festival
Duncan, BC
July 2005 Mission Folk Festival
Mission, BC
July 2005 Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival Toronto, ON
July 2005 Canada Day, Queen Victoria Park
Niagara Falls, ON
June 2005 National Jazz Awards, Phoenix Theatre,
Toronto, ON
June 2005 Ancaster Society of Performing Arts
Ancaster, ON
April 2005
Perth and District Collegiate Auditorium,
Perth, ON
August 2004 Canadian National Exhibition Toronto, ON
August 2004 Musiques du bout du monde Gaspé, PQ
July 2004 Millrace Festival Cambridge, ON
July 2004 Festival du Loup Lafontaine, ON
June 2004 The Lung Association's Breath of Hope Skydome, Toronto, ON
Febuary 2004 Niagara Symphony St Catharines, ON
Febuary 2004 Charles W Stockey Centre Parry Sound, ON
Febuary 2004 Heritage Theatre
Brampton, ON
Febuary 2004 Sanderson Center for the Performing Arts Brantford ,ON
Febuary 2004
Oakville Center of the Performing Arts
Oakville, ON
August 2003
New World Festival Randolph, Vermont, USA
July 2003 Stan Rogers Festival
Canso, NS
July 2003
Chester Playhouse
Chester, NS
July 2003 Folk On The Rocks
Yellowknife, NWT
May 2003
dance with Tracy Schwarz
Toronto, ON
August 2002 Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival Lunenburg, NS
July 2002 Calgary Folk Festival Calgary, AB
July 2002 South Country Fair Fort Macleod, AB
July 2002 Northern Lights Festival Boréal Sudbury, ON
July 2002 Sunfest London, ON
Febuary 2002 Festival du Voyageur Winnipeg, MB
November 2001 Coup de coeur francophone, du Maurier Dance Theatre Toronto
August 2001 Hot & Spicy Festival, Harbourfront Toronto
July 2001 Harrison Festival of the Arts Harrison Hot springs, BC
July 2001 I.C.A. Folk Fest Victoria, BC
July 2001 Islands Folk Festival Duncan BC
June 2001 Radio Canada - Northern Ontario, Open House Toronto
May 2001 Black Sheep Ottawa
March 2001 Harbourfront Toronto
May 2000 Doors Open Toronto Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
August 2000 Oakwood Festival of the Arts Toronto
March 2000 20th Anniversary Fem Cabaret Bluma Apel Theatre, Toronto
July 1999 Mémoire et Racines Joliette, Quebec
June 1999 Mariposa in the City Toronto
May 1999 Milk Festival International Harbourfront, Toronto
February 1999 Festival du Voyageur Winnipeg, Manitoba
October 1998 Ontario School Teacher's rally Queens Park, Toronto (attendance: 40,000)
July 1998 Lilith Fair Molson Place, Toronto
July 1998 Metro Hall Toronto
June 1998 Gordon Best Theatre Peterborough, Ontario
December 1997 First Night Harbourfront Toronto
December 1997 Greenbank Folk Society Greenbank, Ontario
September 1997 monthly dances start at the Gladstone Hotel Toronto
August 1997 Music of the Americas Harbourfront, Toronto
July 1997 Hillside Festival Guelph Ontario
June 1997 Ontario Science Center Toronto, Ontario

Swamperella publicity photos

click on any picture to view and download a larger jpg version in a new window.

Colour photo of Swamperella 2017

2017: Colour photo

5.7 Meg
photo by: Greg King

click for larger image - 275K Masks: B&W photo
275 KB
1583 x 1080
masks by Soozi Schlanger
photo by: Ann Levinston

If more photos or different quality media are required, please .  Thank you!

Download a Stage plot for Swamperella in pdf format.

To hear what the band sounds like please go to the CD page