This album was initially released in 1983. It was originally inspired by my Wisconsin environmental educator buddies who were beginning to promote the wisdom of protecting wetlands for wildlife, water quality and flood control. In 1983, living in Maryland at that time, I scrapped together the money needed for a very-limited- budget recording of the songs. The primary musicians, Paul and John Seydewitz and myself, spent a couple of weeks rehearsing and arranging the songs. We then, to the best of our ability, recorded 3 or 4 takes of each song. Alan Tower, primarily, but also David Kenny and Chris Patton, then added musical talents and production ideas. All of which was overseen by the studio owner/head engineer ( and sax and clarinet player ) Tom Scott. We did our best but to say there were a few mistakes would be generous.
A couple of years ago, while walking through a nature center, I heard one of the songs from “Romp in the Swamp” playing on a sound system. I heard two mistakes in about 15 seconds. I realized there was a chance, in the small circles of environmental education, that this recording would still be played when my body was going through the inevitable decomposition. Thus, this new and “improved” “Romp in the Swamp” is being released.
There is much from the original recording. And there is a significant amount of “new” material; new vocals, new lyrics, complete new versions or parts of songs, modified arrangements.
The original recording, recorded on an eight channel, 1/2 inch reel to reel tape, Tascam machine, was literally baked ( in a food dehydrator – 110 degrees, turn over once every half hour … really ) to re-adhere the metal particles to the tape. Then, using the same type of Tascam machine ( not easy to find ) we were able to make two passes with the tape and transfer the 8 channels into the digital world ( thanks to Steve Murphy and John Penovich ) . And then, with the digital cut and paste ability, we were able to delete mistakes, add new recordings of both instruments and vocals and in general, clean things up.
All this because I believe there is material here worth cleaning up. Thousands of audiences of the live “Romp in the Swamp” performances have convinced me this is true. And that, either way, this material will be heard, in specific situations, for some time. So, why not make the best of it ? And that’s what this release is, the best of it.
It is available on line now and the actual cd’s should be available by June 1, 2012. You can hear significant clips of the new material and see the occasional lyric change/addition on this site at http://billybproductions.com/cd-romp-in-the-swamp/
I would like to thank all the afore mentioned original participants and Steve Murphy for helping me “clean up”, remix to bring out the brightness, and, where needed, re-record, add and edit.
Billy B Brennan
Teresa Southerland, of New Castle Indiana, has taken the hodgepodge of teachers guides, given them a uniform design and a professional overhaul. The new look is easy to read and, for the ever busy teacher, easy to scan to get to the desired information. Teresa has worked in the environmental field for 14 years and now is a free lance writer. Thank you Teresa for giving the “guides” a more cohesive structure and attractive design.
In 2003, Billy and his wife, Thya Merz moved from Silver Spring, Maryland to Brooklyn, New York. Billy lived with his family in Maryland, near Washington DC, for 21 years. Thya is now the Head of School for Corlears School in Manhattan. Billy is now a full time Brooklynite ( although he still performs in the DC area about 8 weeks a year ) . Will Cosby, a long time business associate and friend, has been helping promote Billy in the New York Area.