Johnette and Scott
Gig Seeker Pro

Johnette and Scott

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Duo Blues Children's Music




"Swamp Romp"

Get ready for a Louisiana dance party with Swamp Romp. This wonderful collection is created by multi-award winning children’s musician and author Johnette Downing and her three-time Grammy Award winning husband Scott Billington. With Cajun, Dixieland jazz, New Orleans R&B, brass band and Isleño original tunes performed by an all-star cast of musicians, this recording is a tour of Louisiana roots music styles for the entire family. So move the furniture and roll up the rug, it’s time to Swamp Romp!

From our music judge:

“Swamp Rock succeeds on first listen as Downing and Billington serve up a feast of fun tunes, like “It Wasn’t Me (The Possum Song),” “Mudbug Boogie,” and the title track, for little ones to enjoy. What makes this CD something special is how it delivers a wonderful gumbo of the sounds of New Orleans. Downing and Billington have done a terrific job of involving many of the city’s talented musicians (including the legendary soul singer Irma Thomas) to make this album sound magnificent. Songs touch upon pretty familiar styles, such as Cajun, gospel, and early rock ‘n’ roll ala Fats Domino, but the CD also introduces listeners to lesser-known ones, like the bamboula rhythm and North Mississippi Fife and Drum music. Parents and kids will both want to read the CD’s excellent booklet that explains the songs’ backstories and the various musical styles, as well as telling the origin story of the Po’ Boy sandwich.” - National Parenting Product Awards

"Johnette Downing And Scott Billington’s Swamp Romp"

When Johnette Downing and Scott Billington married, they each gained a partner in life and music. But Downing, an award-winning children’s entertainer, still plays her kids-captivating solo shows at schools, libraries and festivals, between making duo appearances with her lanky, harmonica-playing husband, Billington (a Grammy-winning roots music producer) at performing arts centers and larger festivals.

Special guest Irma Thomas will join Downing and Billington at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 27, to perform “Poor Worry Anna,” a song from the couple’s debut duo album, Swamp Romp.

Downing and Billington began performing together shortly before they married in 2013. “When we’re onstage together,” Billington says, “sometimes I’m distracted, thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a wonderful connection Johnette is making with these kids.’ And those kids leave with an appreciation for art and movement that they might not have had before.”

Children also get a lesson in Louisiana music and culture. That’s been Downing’s mission since 1988, the year she became a children’s entertainer. After over 30 years of performing, Downing has seen many of her fans become parents, bringing their own kids to her shows.

The couple’s duo performances, as well as Downing’s solo appearances, offer abundant opportunities for child participation. “It isn’t a stage performance of the kind that has no time for interaction or improvisation,” Downing says, adding thatcomments from the kids sometimes send the shows in unexpected directions. “That’s the fun in working with children,” Downing says. “They’re so creative and honest with you. Like the tiny little girl who came up front when we played at the Jazz Museum and said, ‘I’m tired.’ I said, ‘Your parents will thank me!’”

Like many of the children she entertains, Downing is a live wire on stage. “I’m a wiggle worm,” she says. “But that’s part of our Louisiana culture. I do a lot of dance songs because that’s the way I grew up. And the movement and dancing and interaction keeps the children engaged.”

Musically knowledgeable adults in the couple’s audiences are surprised when they see Billington, the Grammy-winning producer, in the role of children’s entertainer. “Many folks in Louisiana had no idea he’s a very good harmonica player,” Downing says. An amiable onstage presence, Billington also sings and strums ukulele.

New Orleans native Downing grew up with musician parents. “When they brought my siblings and I to the French Quarter,” she remembers, “we’d stand in the doorways of jazz halls and clubs and listen to ragtime and blues and jazz. I heard swamp pop music during visits to my grandparents in St. Amant. I learned about all of these different kinds of music in Louisiana.”

Billington, originally from the Boston area, began his life in music at eleven years old, when he received a harmonica for Christmas. He later performed blues and roots music in coffeehouses and subsequently became Rounder Records’ longtime vice president of artists-and-repertoire.

Downing and Billington met fifteen years ago at the Cutting Edge Music Conference in New Orleans. Although Billington still lived in Boston then, his production work frequently brought him to Louisiana. “We immediately bonded on so many different levels,” he says of Downing. “The more we talked, the more we realized that we shared the same passion and feeling for American roots music, particularly music from Louisiana.”

“Scott and I were friends for years,” Downing added. “We jokingly said, ‘If we’re ever single at the same time, we’re getting married.’”

In February, Downing and Billington released Swamp Romp, their first album as a musical couple. It’s a Louisiana dance party for children filled with Cajun, zydeco, jazz, brass band and gospel music, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. The album’s all-star guests and session players include New Orleans’s Irma Thomas, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dukes of Dixieland, Washboard Chaz, sousaphone god Matt Perrine, and southwest Louisiana’s Roddie Romero, and Joel Savoy.

Swamp Romp continues the couple’s decades of roots-music and cultural advocacy: Downing’s eleven albums include Fins and Grins, The Second Line—Scarf Activity Songs, and Wild and Woolly Wiggle Songs. The recipient of the Louisiana Book Festival’s 2017 Louisiana Writer Award, Downing’s twenty-four books include Petit Pierre and the Floating Marsh, Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud, and Mumbo Jumbo, Stay out of the Gumbo.

The producer of more than 100 albums, Billington received Grammy Awards for Irma Thomas’s 2007 album After the Rain, Bobby Rush’s 2016 release Porcupine Meat, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s 1981 album Alright Again!

“For me,” Billington says, “having all of these different styles of Louisiana music on Swamp Romp feels like coming full circle. I’m bringing my understanding of roots music to children.” “That’s what my show has always been about, but Scott has broadened it,” Downing says. “And because so many of Scott’s friends wanted to perform on our record, they brought an authenticity that’s really important for children to hear.”

“It’s real Louisiana roots music played by some of the best musicians in their genres,” Billington says. “The lyrics are child-centered, but I think the music is on the level with anything I’ve done in the past.” - Offbeat Magazine

"Song Premiere: Johnette Downing And Scott Billington’s “Mudbug Boogie” From Upcoming Children’s Album “Swamp Romp”"

Americana Highways is pleased to bring you this song premiere by acclaimed children’s author and musician Johnette Downing, and her Grammy winning producer and musician spouse Scott Billington. “Mudbug Boogie” is from their children’s album Swamp Romp which will be released on Feb 15. The album includes Irma Thomas, Roddie Romero, Joel Savoy, James Singleton, Doug Belote, Lee Allen Zeno, Matt Perrine, Wilson Savoy, Jake Eckert, C.R. Gruver, “Washboard Chaz” Leary, members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Roger Lewis, Kevin Harris and Kirk Joseph), members of the Dukes of Dixieland (Kevin Clark, Craig Klein and Tim Laughlin), the McCrary Sisters and members of the ReBirth Brass Band (Keith Frazier and Derrick Tabb).

The album is a 2019 National Parenting Product Award (NAPPA) winner!

Anyone with children in their lives knows that good kids’ music is rare, and is welcomed with open arms whenever it appears. Kids love music, but it’s all too often mind-numbingly oversimplified and repetitive. That’s what makes this album so appealing to folks of all ages, from the tall to the very small. It covers the range of Louisiana music styles from zydeco, to blues, cajun and gospel, jazz, and brass band; all with the catchiest of grooves. Finally, here’s listenable children’s music with a depth of quality that’s infectious enough to have your kids smiling and dancing in a flash, and you along with them.

A “Mudbug,” for those who are not “in the know,” is a crawfish. This song will have you up on your feet like you’re doing a line dance in a Louisiana dance hall just like a silly crawfish might. Bassist Lee Allen Zeno (Buckwheat Zydeco) and drummer Doug Belote lay down a groove that will have everyone dancing, while Joel Savoy on fiddle and Roddie Romero on accordion sprinkle it with Southern Louisiana flavor.
The style of the song could be described as a “zydeco line dance.” This dance song was inspired by the movements of the beloved Louisiana crawfish, also known as a mudbug. Just don’t call it a crayfish!

Whoooooweeeeee cher, dats just wrong. Mudbugs back up and lift up their claws when approached. The lyrics describe the movements for the dancers to follow, not unlike a square dance caller. For instance, the lyrics say, “Back it up crawfish. To the front crawfish. Back it up crawfish, snap, snap. Put your claws up high, put your claws down low. Put your claws up high, snap, snap.” Nearly every zydeco concert set list includes a line dance, and this one celebrates a little crusty fellow who likes to shake his crawfish tail at the fais do do (dance). Come on decapods! Let’s boogie! - Americana Highways

"Top 10 Music | 2019"

Swamp Romp. Performed by Johnette Downing with Scott Billington. Wiggle Worm Records.

PreS-Gr 3–Downing’s latest outing is an exuberant dance party from beginning to end. This Cajun celebration features 15 songs that joyfully embrace Louisiana roots music. - School Library Journal


Swamp Romp (Wiggle Worm Records 011)

in addition, Johnette Downing has ten albums as a solo artist



Musician and author Johnette Downing and three-time Grammy® winner Scott Billington are the foremost children’s music performers from New Orleans. Their Swamp Romp program is a Louisiana dance party that brings the sounds of Cajun music, zydeco, traditional jazz, Isleño culture, swamp pop and New Orleans rhythm and blues to life for kids and their adults. It is a toe-tapping, interactive, and authentic roots music experience that both children and parents will enjoy and long remember. Johnette’s gift for communicating with children is matched with smart musicianship and songs that make this tour of Louisiana’s rich cultural landscape fun for all in attendance. 

Swamp Romp album has won Parent's Choice Silver, NAPPA, and Fids and Kamily awards, and was selected by School Library Journal as one of the top ten albums of 2019. The album features an all-star cast of Louisiana roots musicians, including Irma Thomas, Joel Savoy, members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Roddie Romero, and members of the Dukes of Dixieland.

Their past performances include the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Segerstom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa, CA), The Acadiana Center for the Arts (Lafayette, LA) , The Firehouse Performing Arts Center (Newburyport, MA) and McCabe's Guitar Shop (Santa Monica, CA).

Band Members