Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, new and old; plus 1920s Louisville Jug Bands
Written by Randy Black on January 11, 2017
Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur
Jim Kweskin Jug Band
Viking Twang Show 114, January 11, 2017
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 114. My name’s Randy Black; nice to have you all here on this snowy day.
Here at the Twang, we’re big fans of the original ‘60s pre-hippie folk group, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Kweskin and bandmate Geoff Muldaur have just released a new album called Penny’s Farm. It’s their reworking of a bunch of traditional grass roots American songs, reimagined simply but beautifully.
We’re going to play some of those songs in the second set, with an assortment of original 1920s jug band music from Louisville, all featuring Clifford Hayes, in the third. But first, here’s the original Jim Kweskin Jug Band: Jim and Geoff on vocals and guitar, Mel Lyman on banjo and harmonica, and Maria D’Amato Muldaur on vocals, kazoo, and fiddle; starting in 1964 Bill Keith was on banjo, and future Portland legend Fritz Richmond played bass and jug.
1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – Never Swat A Fly; Jim Kweskin Jug Band. From 1965’s See Reverse Side for Title; a song first recorded by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers in 1930.
3 – Beedle Um Bum; This is from 1963’s Unblushing Brassiness; originally from 1929 from the Hokum Boys, who were Tampa Red and Georgia Tom.
4 – Richland Woman; That’s a 1963 song by Mississippi John Hurt; Maria sang it for See Reverse Side for Title.
5 – Downtown Blues; Geoff’s featured on this one; Frank Stokes and Dan Sane of the Beale Street Sheiks originally laid that down in 1928.
6 – Ukelele Lady; This is from 1965’s Jug Band Music; Vaughn DeLeath first recorded this in 1925.
Jim and Geoff have been working as a duo for a few years now; I’ve seen them play at the Alberta Rose a couple of times and they’re always great. Their new album is called Penny’s Farm. It’s a collection of old tunes they’ve recorded either just together, or with fiddler Suzy Thompson and dobro player Cindy Cashdollar.
7 – Diamond Joe. This song was originally recorded by the Georgia Crackers, Paul and Leon Cofer, in 1927. It may have been written about a 19th Century riverboat operator, Joseph Reynolds.
8 – The Boll Weevil. The history of this song goes back to the 1800s. It was Gid Tanner’s first recording, in 1924, and Alan Lomax recorded Leadbelly version of it in 1934.
9 – Down on Penny’s Farm. Alan’s father, John Lomax, recorded this song by North Carolina’s Bently Boys in 1929, apparently their only recording. It inspired Bob Dylan’s “Hard Times in New York Town” and, later, “Maggie’s Farm.”
10 – Sweet To Mama. Geoff takes the lead on this one. Frank Stokes wrote it in 1928.
11 – The Cuckoo. This song dates back at least to England in 1790; Clarence Ashley famously recorded it in 1929.
We’re going to wrap this up with some authentic jug band music from Louisville, Kentucky, recorded for a number of bands led by Clifford Hayes in the early 1920s.
12 – Louisville Bluezees; Clifford Hayes and the Louisville Jug Band. From May 1925, with Cora Gray on vocals.
13 – Boodle-Am-Shake; Dixieland Jug Blowers. This is again Clifford Hayes, with a new band called the Dixieland Jug Blowers, in December, 1926.
14 – Blues, Just Blues, That’s All; Old Southern Jug Band. This was an alias for the Jug Blowers when they recorded for a different label in November, 1924.
15 – I’m Gonna Be A Lovin’ Old Soul; Sara Martin’s Jug Band. Back in 1924, Sara recorded the first blues vocal record backed by a guitar, along with an early version of the Guitar Blues. This is from her band in 1924.
16 – Jerry O’Mine; Whistler’s Jug Band. This band was led by guitarist and whistler Buford Threlkeld in Louisville, starting in 1915. They went into the studio for the first time to record this in 1924.
17 – Daybreak in Vegas; the Countrypolitans.
18 – Memphis Shakedown; Memphis Jug Band. From 1934.