Sussex Countian
  • Swamp Dog to throw Bethany Blues a bone

  • A 30-plus-year career working in information technology didn’t pump adrenaline into the body of Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark like standing on stage before a crowd of salivating blues fans does.
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  • A 30-plus-year career working in information technology didn’t pump adrenaline into the body of Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark like standing on stage before a crowd of salivating blues fans does.
    Now five years removed from retirement, the 61-year-old continues to work. But it’s no longer for the man; it’s for himself. And the customers are his concertgoers.
    Even when he was young enough to receive visits from the tooth fairy, Swamp Dog knew in his heart he was born to perform for a living. While the warm welcome he received last year at Bethany Blues in Lewes confirmed Swamp Dog is now in the right line of work, his encore this Friday will be a celebration of such.
    “Last time I played there was great,” said Swamp Dog, of Largo, Md., who not only adored the crowd, but was also impressed by the Bethany Blues sound system. “It’s going to be hittin’; lord have mercy!”
    What you’ll hear
    Nicknamed after the great bluesman Jimmy "Swamp Dogg" Reeds’ swampy style on blues harp (or harmonica), Swamp Dog, the frontman and blues harpist in his namesake band, will usher in a mix of tunes including blues standards and originals on Friday.
    Classics like Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” and “Bright Lights, Big City,” along with Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man” and the well-known “Rock Me Baby” are all fair game for Friday’s show. Though Swamp Dog says it’s hard as heck to play those songs faithfully, which he and his bandmates are more than capable of doing, he loves throwing listeners a curve by injecting a little improvisation into their covers. On “Hoochie Coochie Man,” for instance, “I might add a slide [guitar] to make it more rock-sounding,” the laidback Swamp Dog said.
    When it comes to his originals, you’ll hear numbers off his latest album, “Raw,” released in 2011, which includes “Old Man,” a narrative about a tired, old man who isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with his lady. There’s also the self-explanatory “Do Unto Others.”
    Swamp Dog says the signature sound in his original music is "blues with a funk edge."
    Origins of the ‘Swamp’
    Swamp Dog’s love for music began at the age of 5. His mom took him to a parade in his hometown of York, Pa., where his eyes and ears were introduced to the sweet sound of drums by a marching band. From that moment on, he discovered his calling in life.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Since I was 5, there was no question whatsoever. I always knew I wanted to be a musician,” Swamp Dog said.
    By the time he was around 14, his passion for the drums led him to the harp. This time he didn’t find the instrument at a parade. Though Swamp Dog’s memory on the topic is a bit fuzzy, he thinks he might’ve heard the harp during a TV commercial. Nevertheless, the thing Swamp Dog is certain of is the mighty sound from the tiny instrument “struck me,” leaving him with a smile on face as he thought: “all man, that’s pretty slick.”
    Since nobody he knew played harmonica in York, Swamp Dog taught himself with the help of an instructional harp book.
    After years of drumming in multiple bands, many of which weren’t blues groups, Swamp Dog felt the need to front his own outfit. And he did so about a year after he retired from the IT business in 2008.
    Now he and the guys average about five gigs a month, with shows mostly around Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. In time, he hopes to get out on the road even more. In the meantime, he’s just living out his destiny.
    “I play the blues,” said the easygoing Swamp Dog, matter-of-factly. It’s what he was born to do.
    WHAT Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark in concert
    WHEN 8 p.m., Friday
    WHERE Bethany Blues, 18385 Coastal Highway, Lewes
    INFO lewes.bethanyblues.com or call (302) 644-2500
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