New Orleans Swamp Donkeys
Possibly one of the most relevant and genuine New Orleans bands today, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys specialize in "Traditional Jass," also known as Hot Jazz and Early Jazz. The band's focus on early greats like Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael has created a raving, global following, but it was their unique Jass-adaptation of the theme song from Game of Thrones that resulted in a viral video. Truly, this band spans more than a century, and while they are very often called upon for their utterly authentic approach to the traditional, they're called upon equally as often for their brass band and progressive adaptations. Together with bandleader James Williams, the band has performed multiple times at New Orleans Jazz Fest, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, and many other great festivals. They've also opened for Sting, Simple Minds, Johnny Hallyday, Joe Louis Walker, Rebirth Brass Band, and many others.
Bandleader James Williams is a multi-talented artist that sounds like Louis Armstrong on the trumpet and vocals, but as the BBC's Stephen Duffy put it, "he is resolutely his own man." Mr. Williams is a virtuoso on the trumpet and tuba, and plays a pretty mean trombone as well. His talents have earned him standing ovations from huge crowds all over the world, from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem to big stadiums in Africa, Australia, and Asia; as well as some of the world's most prestigious jazz clubs, including The Blue Note, Ronnie Scott's, and Duc des Lombards. He usually plays in his primary band, The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, and he also performs in a newer formation, "James Williams," that spans traditional jazz, modern jazz, soul, R&B, and hip hop, and includes piano, upright bass, and a classier atmosphere than the insanely fun and quite wild New Orleans Swamp Donkeys. Mr Williams debuted "James Williams" at French Quarter Festival in New Orleans this year to an understandably adoring audience (that couldn't stop dancing!)
Now in 2018, the ascent of the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys (and star James Williams) continue to accelerate. Over the past year, Mr Williams was the Featured Summer Artist at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, leading a special July 4 performance of his band on Louis Armstrong's birthday in Queens. NOSD also performed to adoring audiences at the Blue Note NYC that night, before flying to Switzerland to perform at the Independence Day Party at the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, as well as at the Palais des Nations (General Assembly Hall) at the United Nations itself. The band sold out shows at Duc Des Lombards in Paris, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, The Sugar Club in Dublin, and more. Mr Williams even led a brand new band, the New Orleans Classic Big Band, which includes all of the members of the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, in a centennial celebration and overview of Jazz at the historic Festival Theatre in Scotland. Mr Williams even took his work to mainstream festivals, including the London Bridge City, Secret Garden Party, and Kendal Calling, all in the United Kingdom.