Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Meet the Artist: Swampcandy

Feb 29, 2012 05:58PM ● By Anonymous
After performing with several music groups in which he’d had roles from front man to side guy, he started a new solo act: Swampcandy.

A few years later, Joey Mitchell found himself in the audience of one of Dobbs’ shows with Jen Van Meter. An upright bassist, Mitchell had recently started incorporating a lot of percussion into his own performances with the band Mixed Business. After bringing a kick drum out on stage, Mitchell would smack the neck of his bass to fill out where he thought the snare would be. And, after noting that Dobbs’ style would mesh well with his, he talked to him about getting together. In 2009, he joined the act, and Swampcandy became a duo.

“As we gigged more and more and started touring, our playing developed to incorporate more and more of what the songs needed,” Mitchell says. “We really gelled on our U.K. tour. We played 11 consecutive dates and really started reading each other.”

Now, says Dobbs, “I hate to play gigs without him.” Swampcandy specializes in old-school stomp and boogie. Their sound harkens back to the old blues of the Delta, which Dobbs describes as a style of Mississippi blues from the early 1900s through the 1940s. According to both Dobbs and Mitchell, we can thank the genre for most of rock ‘n’ roll.

“Hendrix, The Stones, The Grateful Dead—all roads lead back to 1930s Mississippi,” says Dobbs, to which Mitchell adds, “Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones wouldn’t have been what they were without delta blues.”

“Usually the songs were performed by only one or two people,” says Dobbs, “It’s a very lonely form.” But now, that’s what makes Swampcandy unique.

“Our duo set-up and the amount of sound we get from it set us apart,” says Mitchell. “I’ve always been a fan of small bands that have a sound bigger than they are.”

In their original music, Dobbs is the brains behind the writing. “Reuben brings a song or an idea to the table, and we’ll flesh it out together,” says Mitchell. “We’re not afraid to try things midperformance, which can sometimes lead to us falling flat on our faces. But it can also lead to a song really finding itself.”

If you’re interested in seeing Swampcandy live (and you really should be), you can find them at Rams Head Tavern every Tuesday evening or the first Thursday of every month at Level Small Plates Lounge, both in Annapolis.

Afterwards the guys will be finishing their next L.P., Midnight Creep, to be released on vinyl and digital formats in April. And, they’re working on a 60-minute movie detailing its making.

“I won’t say much,” says Dobbs of the picture, “But I will say that we did light [Annapolis artist] Walker Babington on fire during the filming.”

To find out more about Swampcandy, go to, and to stay up to date be sure to join their mailing list.

Swampcandy would like to acknowledge Sugar Farm Productions, a new collaboration between Alison Harbaugh (, Rebecca Saunders, and Joseph Karr (


A selection of notable artists playing area venues.

3/1 Lucy Woodward Trio at Avalon Theatre, Easton
Incredibly talented songstress performs a variety of genres

3/2 Maggie Sansone and Friends at Avalon Theatre, Easton
Elegant hammered dulcimer backed by lively Celtic band

3/4 Doc Hochman’s Mardi Gras Dixieband at Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis
Jazz and blues piano boogie

3/7 David Burgess at Maryland Hall, Annapolis.
Classically-trained guitarist

3/8 Jon Anderson of Yes at Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore.
Lead man of the progressive rock group performs an intimate show

3/8 The Black Lillies at Night Cat, Easton
True-grit country

3/10 Call Me Mercy at Night Cat, Easton.
Alt-rock band and 2012 What’s Up? Eastern Shore “People to Watch” finalist

3/10 Guy Davis at Stoltz Listening Room (Avalon Theatre), Easton
Acoustic blues guitarist

3/10-11 Terri Clark at Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis.
Top 10 country artist performs her unplugged show

3/16 Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra at Avalon Theatre, Easton
12-piece funk, gospel, soul, and jam party band

3/17 Taylor Hicks at Avalon Theatre, Easton
Blues rock is the calling card of this past American Idol winner

3/19 The Psychedelic Furs at Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis.
Influential post-punk band charted several hits in the ’80s

3/23 New Riders of the Purple Sage at Rams Head Live, Baltimore.
Country-roots-rock with jam swagger led by David Nelson

3/23-24 Annapolis Symphony Orchestra at Maryland Hall, Annapolis.
Performing Dymiotis, Martin, and Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 3, Scottish”

3/23 Naked Blue at Night Cat, Easton
Local favorites, pop-rock-folk duo

3/24 Eddie From Ohio at Avalon Theatre, Easton
Popular folk-rock outfit

3/25 Buckethead at Rams Head Live, Baltimore.
Frenetic guitarist, one of the best at his craft

3/28 Van Halen at Verizon Center, D.C.
Chart-topping arena rockers back on the road

3/30 Willy Porter at Avalon Theatre, Easton
Energetic acoustic fretwork and polished vocals

3/30 The Real Geniuses at The Whiskey, Annapolis.
’80s tribute band performs many hits from this synth-heavy decade

3/31 The Joe Krown Trio at Night Cat, Easton
Hammond B-3-driven funk featuring some of New Orleans most prominent musicians