Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band: Personal Stories

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Aug 3, 2011

By cosmic coincidence, Maria Muldaur and I share the same birthday as Gus Cannon, September 12.


Jul 21, 2010

In late 1963, this group of artists introduced me to jug band music. There used to be sit-ins at the old Club 47 in Cambridge, MA and I had some fun over the two month period I was at Boston University "sitting in" next to the little stage there. Most especially, I learned with keen interest from Fritz how to play jug including some of the special nuances that only Fritz could convey. Watching Jim and Geoff also improved my guitar finger styling immensely and led to my life long love of ragtime, blues and jug music. At that time, Bob Siggins was playing banjo with the Charles Valley Boys and that was my second interest in instruments and music forms. I had played around some of the folk clubs in New York and New England during late 1962 and early 1963 and had run into Banjo wizard Bill Keith several times at the clubs along with his long time partner Jim Rooney so I was really surprised in 1965 to learn that Keith had joined the band the year before! I caught the Kweskin group a number of times in New York as well as the Even Dozen Jug Band with Maria D'Amato, John Sebastian, David Grisman, Steve Katz and Stefen Grossman. It was a life defining experience to be able to jam with a lot of these people.


Apr 24, 2010

After I discovered the classic jug band music of the 1920's and 30's, I offered to teach a class on jug band music at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. I was chatting about the idea with Ed Holstein, a veteran from the 1960's folk scene, and he said, "You've got to check out Jim Kweskin!" Ed had hosted Jim during his tour stops in Chicago and was still full of excitement about both the man and his music.

I picked up the Greatest Hits CD and sure enough, it was a delight. This music formed a large portion of my class's repertoire when they performed outside the school as the Hump Night Thumpers. In my opinion, the fun of the pre-war jug bands comes not from jokes or gimmicks but from the careless ease with which they handled their material, and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band was the best of the post-war bands at matching that style.