The Swamp Ward Orchestra is a Canadian band formed in 2004 by Jan Le Clair, Alison Gowan, and Laura Murray. Their repertoire consists of both instrumental pieces and songs sung in English or French. Their music combines various European sounds from medieval to musette, and circus to café. The band adopted its name from a downtown neighborhood of Kingston, Ontario.[1]

Jan Le Clair plays the accordion. Alison Gowan interchanges the hurdy gurdy and bass. Laura Murray covers the cello and banjo. All three contibute their voices to singing. The band also enlists the talents of percussionists Mike Essoudry and Christos Smirnios as needed.

The Swamp Ward Orchestra tours throughout Canada and the United States. Festival gigs have included the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Calgary Folk Festival, Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Mill Race Festival of Traditional Music in Cambridge, Ontario, Skeleton Park Music Festival in Kingston, Chants de Vielles near Montreal, and Toronto's Winterfolk.

Hurdy Gurdy UsageEdit

Alison Gowan owns two hurdy gurdies which she keeps tuned to play in different keys. Her "Bluebell", one of Helmut Gotschy's Phoenix models, is hard to miss due to its eye-catching, royal blue color. Her other instrument is a more traditional lute-back style built by Chris Eaton (and hand-painted by his wife Rosemary), featuring a double keyboard.

Swamp Ward Orchestra Winnipeg Folk Festival 2012 interview

Swamp Ward Orchestra Winnipeg Folk Festival 2012 interview

External linksEdit

Official website


  1. Swamp Ward Orchestra, Band Biography. Retrieved 4 February 2014.