Whiskey for Breakfast Records - WFB 002
Available from Whiskey for Breakfast Records' web site.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Thanks to Banjo Kellie of the Escape the Floodwater Jug Band, I was forwarded this killer anthology of what is perhaps the most neglected element of Americana—jug music! There have been damn few practitioners over the last half century, most notably the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and almost no one's keeping the tradition going, but music like this is exactly the sort of material Robert Crumb finds so imperishable. I have to agree 100% with him. It's incredibly fun, stuffed with nuance and idiosyncrasy, and always attractive to the ear. In fact, most people will find, when they reflect upon it, the times they really took most to musicians like Flatts and Scruggs and Roy Clark was when those cats were engaged in flat-out boogied-up bluegrass and jug.
Jugs Across America features 20 different bands, all jumpin', jivin', pickin', grinnin', sassin', and havin' theyselves a helluva time, Jethro. Extremely compatible to swing, bluegrass, flapper, Dixie, hot jazz, and Tex-Mex, jug is the funnybone in the heart of Americana blent with a virtuosity as would make Benny Goodman himself rollick. Spike Jones practiced this kind of material, as does Dan Hicks, and wait'll you hear this hambone in Fritz Richmond's Barbecue Orchestra playing the lips in Sweet Sue. Each one of these jokers, jivers, and jig-time jack-of-all-trades is a master of his or her instrument (and voice!), tickling it until strings and reeds laugh and romp like an Olympic sprinter on nitrous oxide.
I gotta mention Escape the Floodwater's part, as it's their label this badly needed anthology appears on. They're more anarchic than most, rawer and funkier, semi-lo-fi and DIY, a country store ensemble stranded in consumerville, funny as hell and as spirited as any. Nasty, too! Many of the bands here are, as far as I can tell, contemporary, but I ain't promisin' nothin' 'cause all the songs are so drenched in authenticity that being given a blindfold test would unnerve even an ethnomusicologicist.
Do yourself a favor and latch onto this disc. It's bursting with catchy rhythms, smart-ass lyrics, innuendo, hot playin', hilarious takes both instrumental and vocal, and is more fun than any comedy film ya might otherwise spend time on. Broadminded connoissieurs of the Bonzo Dog Band, 10CC, Monty Python, Spinal Tap, and the kind of material that used to appear on The Doctor Demento Show will find a wealth of gems and probably get hooked. I don't see how ya couldn't.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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