Monday, June 19, 2006

Memphis Jug Band

When I was in my 20s I remember I had a Joker LP from the Memphis Jug Bands. The primitive sounds of these long forgotten bands gave me a feeling that jazz music founds its origin in this primitive music.

At a record fair I found a Memphis Jug Band CD ( label: Wolf WBCD-004 ) with recordings from Memphis groups from the late 1920s. This kind of hodge podge collection of associates and alternate takes contains recordings of Will Weldon, Vol Stevens, Will Shade, Minie Wallace, Hattie Hart, Kaiser Clifton and Jenny Pope - all forgotten blues men that lived in or around Memphis. The other tracks are alternative takes from the Memphis Jug Bands.

Memphis was in the 1920s an important city of commercial importance along the Mississippi. All great highways and railroads met in the city. The music was influenced by the ragtime from St. Louis in the north, the jazz from New Orleans and Chicago along the river and the blues from the Delta triangle. The music developed to the typically jug bands, poor blacks who expressed their feelings using the instruments they had at hand. The music they made was very related to the blues.

To be honest, it's not the music I love to hear when I awake. It remembers me to the time my brother and I were playing three-chord blues themes at the kazoo, piano and guitar.

These primitive recorded sounds,transferred from rare recordings, have some interest from a historical point of view. The transfers are poor, the quality of the records used are less then moderate. If I compare this music with, let's say the Les Loups recordings of the same period, it's easy to make a choice.Les Loups would win !!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Hans, for this contribution to a neglected corner of the music we devote our interest and passion. A similar tradition as the various jug bands is the one to be connected with other hokum groups of the Prohibition area, notably The Hokum Boys with Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy. The same goes regarding some of the small-band recordings by the ragtime guitar-ace, Blind Blake. He actually also knew how to knock a jug, I believe.


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