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FAME Review: Devine's Jug Band - Terrible Operation Blues
Devine's Jug Band - Terrible Operation Blues

Terrible Operation Blues

Devine's Jug Band

Porto Franco Records - PFR002

Available from Porto Franco Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Yee-haw! While I'm impatiently waiting for the Escape the Floodwater Jug Band's next disc (and, dammit, they should be putting one a month out!), I now have a great alternative in this down home, around the corner, just past the tannery threesome -- plus assorted pickers from down in the holler—plunking out jug music that even R. Crumb and Mal Sharpe have lauded. As all of us grunt out the New Republican Depression, we sure as hell need some kick-up, dancey, likker-drinkin', wail it out brothers and sisters music! Here it is.

The Devine Jug Band has a more megaphonic Mama Cass by way of Ma Rainey tone in singer Meredith Axelrod, who has cultivated a genuinely classic sense completely in accord with the mode's high period. More than once, I expected to hear Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride in the background, though the group's take on Dorsey's title song is just a bit chilling in its grim humor, hilarious in an Appalachian AMA fashion but definitely not what one would've encountered in those great old Ma & Pa Kettle flicks. Pete Devine indeed plays a jug (not to mention washboard and cheek-o-phone) while Mayumi Urgino rasps away on her high country fiddle and Meredith blazes on gee-tar. The guests toss in banjo, mando, and more jug. On instrumentals like The Donald Rag, everyone starts cutting up like an old Our Gang soundtrack, clattery and jumpin'.

There are several old-timey bands who take pains to preserve the bygone airs faithfully, and the Devine Jug Band is one of them, while not missing modernisms here and there as slyly needed. Tons of great playing, tongue in cheek humor, reverence for trad, and an exceptionally sharp pick-up on nuances most miss. Pete Devine rendered an interesting comment in regard of that: he got more from listening to ancient recordings than from practicing, noting that this is a missing aspect even jazz guys can learn from. Very perceptive indeed. How better to analyze the unique properties by the very people who brought the musics to us and then riff on 'em? Thus, be forewarned that this stuff is addictive for that very reason.

Track List:

  • Fourth Street Mess Around (Will Shade)
  • The Dallas Rag (Dallas String Band)
  • Hop Scop Blues (George W. Thomas)
  • Terribel Operation Blues (Thomas A. Dorsey)
  • Ted's Stomp (Bogan / Armstrong)
  • Spiser's Nest Blues (Shade / Clayton)
  • The Donald Rag (Martin's Melody Makers)
  • Too Long (Charlie McCoy)
  • Sadie Green (Wells / Shugart)
  • Beaver Slide Rag (Howell / Anthony)
  • Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown (Tilzer / Sterling)
  • Jackson Stomp (Cow Cow Blues) (Cow Cow Davenport)
  • Low Down Blues (Blake / Sissle)
  • El Remolino (traditional)
  • The Lindberg Hop (Shade / Jones)
  • What Makes my Baby Cry (Hibbeler / Sosnick / Squires)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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