Roots - Blues - Alt-country    "For your inner hillbilly"

About Swampfish
Kim Downs
Kim Downs was born in Las Vegas in 1953. Both his parents loved music and dancing and both had learned a bit of guitar when they were young. First musical memories for Kim was his father singing along to Elvis in the car. The radio tuned to the latest pop stations was a regular feature in the Downs household.

By the early 60's Kim was living in San Diego. His first musical instrument was the trombone, which he began learning to play at the age of ten. He played consistently for the next ten years in school orchestras, brass bands, marching bands, pep bands, and various ensembles.
Kim picked up the guitar in his mid-twenties, just before moving to Australia in 1980. By 1983 he was playing as a solo guitarist/vocalist in restaurants on the Gold Coast and around Byron Bay. Over the next ten years he played in various duos including Slavo (with Peter Slavin), Mucho Loco (With Martin Taylor), and Dat Duo (with violinist Jenny Andersen).

In 1992 Kim met his future wife, Liz Hall. They began performing together soon thereafter. Kim briefly dusted off the trombone for awhile in the early 90's to play with local Ocean Shores based brass outfit Hot Air. In 1996 he and Liz received an Arts Queensland grant to produce a poetry book and tape, and tour their act, Fit of Passion, through rural Queensland.

2004 found them playing in an alternative country trio called Cathouse Creek with piano-accordonist Gary Nunn. Cathouse Creek played mainly around the Brisbane area. Swampfish was born around 2010. Liz took up the autoharp around this time and Kim bought a 4-string tenor banjo. Their first Swampfish CD, entitled Homeward Dove, was released in December 2014.

Liz Hall-Downs
Musically, Liz Hall-Downs’ family were brass players, and her first instrument was the baritone.  At school she played violin and sang in choirs.  She spent her 20s and 30s pursuing writing and publishing, both academically and in popular forums such as poetry readings and performances. 
As a performance poet and occasional singer, she worked with The Word Warriors, the Ozpoets, and the Nimbin poets, and has featured at iconic venues such as La Mama Poetica, the Dan O’Connell, Woodford Folk Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Tasmanian Poetry Festival, Brisbane Writers’ Festival, and the Austin (Texas) International Poetry Festival.  She has published six collections of poetry.  After completing a Master’s degree in creative writing at UQ, she became increasingly disillusioned with the writing scene and more enamoured with singing, especially now she had a partner in crime to sing harmony with!

In her youth Liz had sung with various largely forgettable acts across the folk, punk and spoken word genres in inner Melbourne’s underground.   She took up the autoharp mainly to accompany herself as a singer.  The autoharp is culturally tied to old time, bluegrass and gospel music, and Kim’s taking up of the tenor banjo in the mid-noughties, and their mutual love of harmony singing, cemented Swampfish’s direction into this hillbilly territory.  Liz plays her George Orthey custom autoharp upright, which is known as ‘Appalachian Style’, as pioneered by Maybelle Carter.   

'Homeward Dove' Samples

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