In these times of uncertainty it's important t experience moments of joy...and what can be more joyful than jug band music?
If you were a folkie in the Boston area during the mid-Sixties, the place to be was Cambridge's Club 47. (Yes, Boston also had the Unicorn coffeehouse but Club 47 was really the place.) One of the popular acts to appear there was Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band.
First, there was Jim Kweskin (guitar, vocals, comb). who for the five years the band was in existence, put a modern, blues-tinged edge to pre-WWII music with his semi-gravelled voice and his astonishing guitar stylings. Fritz Richmond (jug, washtub bass) was the best washtub bassist in the country and a master of the jug. Richmond was known to be able to play the bass on anything, including (while in the service) a quonset hut. Geoff Muldaur (guitar, vocals, mandolin, washboard, kazoo) was a blues vocalist, musician, and songwriter who later worked with Paul Butterfield and others. Maria D'Amato (vocals, percussion, fiddle) came to the group from The Even Dozen Jug Band; she married Geoff Muldaur and has since performed under that name even though the marriage ended in 1972. She has performed with Jerry Garcia, Paul Butterfield, and Linda Rondstadt, among others, and has continued to have a solid career in Christian, secular, children's, jazz, and popular music. Bill Keith (banjo, pedal steel guitar), a former member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, developed a banjo style that permanently altered banjo playing. He also designed a banjo tuning peg that remains state of the art to this day. Richard Greene (fiddle) was recognized as one of the most innovative and influential fiddle players of all time. While playing with Monroe's The Blue Grass boys, he introduced the 'chop chord" to fiddle playing. The charismatic Mel Lyman (harmonica, banjo) was called the "Grand Old Man of the 'blues' harmonica in his mid-twenties." In 1966 Lyman founded the Lyman Family, a semi-hippie commune that slowly devolved to a cult status as Lyman's mental condition deteriorated. Lyman supposedly died in 1978, although his "Family" could provide no body or death certificate; strangely, there was no investigation. (Another source has Lyman dying of a drug overdose in Los Angeles that same year.) Original members included Bruno Wolfe (vocals) and Bob Siggins (vocals and banjo).
With a slightly changing line-up over the years, Kweskin's Jug Band provided a welcome twist on old-time rural music with a dose of ragtime, blues, jazz, bluegrass, and country. They helped make the mid-Sixties -- an era of protest, awareness, and rebellion -- a little more palatable. And they helped make Club 47 a great place to be.
"Papa's on the Housetop"
"Somebody Stole My Gal"
"When I Was a Cowboy"
"Jug Band Music"
"That's When I'll Come Back To You"
"If You're a Viper"
"Never Swat a Fly"
"I Ain't Gonna Marry"
"Guabi Guabi" [also the name of our Siamese cat way back then]
"The Circus Song" [with greatest giraffe sounds ever!]
Great music. Great memories.