View Full Version : jug band jones

Mar-01-2005, 4:23pm
I'm not too sure if this fits into this area of the cafe, but I figured I would just ask away...

As of late I have been digging on jug band tunes....Now I know a mando isn't "essential" to this style, but it does get featured quite a bit.
I don't know a great deal of the history of the music, aside from a cursory web search, and would like to know if anyone else can point me to some resources...

classic recordings
sound files

and anything else would be much appreciated!

Jim M.
Mar-01-2005, 5:01pm
We have a jug band expert here at the Cafe, Wayne (aka: wah), who actually organizes an annual jug band festival in Sutter Creek, CA. If he doesn't see this thread pretty soon, send him a PM.

Mar-01-2005, 5:31pm
not mando specific but fun stuff-http://www.jugband.org/

Mar-01-2005, 8:27pm
Thanks Jim. I don't know how much of an "expert" I am but I can probably help quite a bit. Don't downplay the role of mandolin in the history of jugbands (or maybe I should say the role of jug bands in the history of mandolinists). David Grisman's first recording was with the Even Dozen Jug Band (a must have if you're getting a jug band cd collection started. This band included John Sebastian, Maria D'Amato - later Muldaur, Stefan Grossman, Steve Katz and Joshua Rifkin). Sam Bush was part of the Nashville Jug Band (I have a cassette tape of this. Jill Klien, David Olney and Too Slim are apart of this project). Dave Von Ronk's Ragtime Jug Stompers included Artie Rose on mandolin (I recently found an old record of this). And of course Yank Rachell connects the dots all the way back to the old time jug bands. Get #a copy of Yank's Tennessee Jug Busters. He also shows up for a couple of songs with John Sebastian's J-Band (try "Chasin' Gus's Ghost"). That should satisfy mando-content

In the 1890's an itinerant Louisville banjo player named B. D. Tite heard someone playing a jug. He adopted this instrument playing with a banjo player known only as "Black Daddy." They were joined by two brothers Cy and Charley Anderson on guitar and fiddle to create the first known "jug band." They became popular in Louisville and between 1900 and '07 did a riverboat tour that introduced the music throughout the South. None of the Louisville Jug Bands that we know of appear to have had a mandolin player. In Memphis jug bands really caught on and mandolins became part of the ensemble. Get some of the albums by the Memphis Jug Band and you will hear mandolin and/or banjolin played by Charlie Burse, Charlie McCoy, Will Weldon and Vol Stevens. My favorite Memphis Jug Band cd is one with R. Crumb's drawing on the cover "The Memphis Jug Band." To get a great overview of the old jug bands find the 2 Yazoo cd's "Ruckus Juice and Chitlin's."

By all means get Rich DelGrosso's Jug Band Mandolin tape and book if you want to learn to play this stuff.

Don't forget there are many, many modern jug bands - some with mandolin players (no, the South Austin Jug Band is NOT a jug band). Find them, support them!


Mar-03-2005, 9:23am
thanks wayne. hey doesn't anyone else play jugband stuff on the board?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif chime in!

Mar-05-2005, 2:32pm

I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-release copy of a new album The Joy Buzzards. The three performers play a total of 19 instruments on the album ranging from Uke through resonator guitar, resonator mandolin through accordian, jug, aluminum string base, saw, etc, etc, etc.

The musicians are: Bill Scholler, Kieth Cary, Robert Armstrong. Kieth is the developer of the Commodium, a resonator mandolin using a bed pan as the metal body of the instrument. He plays his Commodium and lots of other instruments on this album as do all the musicians. Their influences are early jug band early blues mixed with a bunch of original tunes. I have had a lot of fun with this album though they really don't need my help. It is a little hard to pin down a description of the tunes because they vary. But it is a delightful album and I have an awful lot of fun playing along with most of the tunes. If you enjoy old time music with a modern twist this is a really fun album. When I last checked the album was not yet in distribution. but I'll check again and post the vendor in this thread. I am positive you (and lots of other people) would enjoy this album.

Mar-05-2005, 3:25pm
Ira and other Jug Band folks:
Here is a link to the Joy Buzzards. The description in the ad is pretty good. I highly recommend this album. Mando is used on this album but it is not necessarily a featured instrument. I couldn't get the samples to play on my computer... I hope you can. Because when I first played this album I couldn't help but start playing along with it... Very infectuous stuff.

Kieth Cary is a member and his commodium is seen on this site. Use the search engine and type "Commodium".


Jim M.
Mar-05-2005, 4:26pm
Keith is a good guy and a heck of a picker. I've played the Commodium and it's a very nice instrument. Keith also does a great job restoring old instruments.

Mar-05-2005, 5:17pm
Thanks for the input all--->

I'm glad I was able to elicit such an enthusiastic response, as well as stir some activity in the old time area...

I didn't know of grisman's work with the Even dozen band, I am sure to hop on that, and I HAD heard of the Memphis Jug Band, just didn't know where to start, having a cover by Crumb, that one sounds like a winner!

Commodium, great name!
Hello Bart! that is a great name too!

Mar-05-2005, 11:22pm
hey bmac, just listened to their stuff on cd baby- looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove it!!!!
i couldn't tell what was coming next. kinda reminded me of howard armstrong- a little jugblues, then some swing, then a novelty type tune, keeping you musically satisfied and on your toes. great stuff!
thanks for the tip. can't wait till i have a little disposable cash to get a cd myself.

Mar-06-2005, 7:10am
Ira, Jim and others with interesting names:

I learned of the album from Keith Cary. I am interested in buying a Commodium and have been in touch with him by email him several times. I am new to resonator mandos so I am delighed to hear Jim's endorsement of the Commodium.

Bart - Crumb did not do the album cover. Robert Armstrong... The resonator guitar player did it. However there is a close relationship between at least Crumb and Armstrong. Crumb used to play (guitar I believe) with armstrong and still does when he is in town. (I believe Crumb lives in France). There is an underground comic book called "Joy Buzzards" and I assume that Armstrong has a lot to do with it. I haven't researched it. Anyway it is an interesting group which plays very interesting music and I am delighted you guys have enjoyed hearing the samples.

Bart McNeil

Mar-06-2005, 12:54pm
Here's a link to a review of a Joy Buzzards performance which might be of interest. It kind of explains what they are about and how they got that way. A little more detail than on the record sales comments.


Mar-06-2005, 8:23pm
exellent!- the quotes from the band were exactly what i'd expect after hearing clips of their music.

Mar-07-2005, 10:28am
This relates to Wayne's comments on Jug Band stuff.

I have been trying to locate DelGrosso's Jug Band book and tape but can't find it. Does anyone know if either it is (or they are) still in print? and if available.... where?

Mar-07-2005, 3:36pm
The Joy Buzzards - yes! I live in Davis, CA, so I run into these people often. In the '70's I lived in Winters when Crumb lived just outside of town. He has a daughter that's the same age as my son so we would run into each other occasionally. Robert Armstrong has jug band roots - I saw him play with Sourdough Slim and he pulled out a jug for one song. He's a great saw player. Crumb and Armstrong go way back in their underground comics days. They play together in the Cheap Suit Serenaders. Robert keeps himself very busy as an artist and musician.

I'm still pretty sure the Memphis Jug Band cover is Crumb - that's where I've seen it attributed to. Though Robert did some covers for Yazoo as well. I bought my Pomeroy at Great Divide Music Store in Aspen, Colorado, and Bob did their logo (obligatory mandolin content).

To get Del Grasso's book I think you have to e-mail him. That's what I did.


Mar-07-2005, 4:07pm
Wayne - You said:
"I'm still pretty sure the Memphis Jug Band cover is Crumb"

When I spoke of the art work I wasn't referring to the Memphis Jug Band.... I was referring to The Joy Buzzards album art work, which is very good, by the way. It was done by Armstrong and has a similar funky quality but is decidedly different from Crumb's art work. I haven't paid attention to underground comics but it was interesting to see his work in view of his underground comic background.

Mar-07-2005, 6:20pm
Sorry, yes the Joy Buzzards cd cover is Roberts work. If you google his name you'll find some more of his work. He has done ukelele's for Gryphon and the "cowboy" Martin guitar is his work. Armstrong is not quite as "out there" as Crumb but his Mickey Rat character in the early '70's is pretty outrageous. Why he never got sued by Disney is anyones guess.


Mar-08-2005, 9:16am
I noticed that one of the records of "Roger Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders" is available. Robert Armstrong (of the Joy Buzzards) played in the group. I had heard of Crumb's group but am not familiar with any of their albums so I think I will buy it.

I also remember being taken by the saw playing in the film "One Flew Over the Cucu's Nest". Interesting to learn it was Robert Armstrong playing the saw.

Mar-08-2005, 3:18pm
If you liked the Joy Buzzards you need a Cheap Suit Serenaders cd.