Review by Bokonon
That’s not making too big a deal of it.
The church of the holy jug.
Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band did not invent jug band music, but during the ’60s folk revival they did take it to a different place, streamlining what was essentially African-American string band music for a new, young, hip white audience.
The audience at the The Egg for the group’s 50th Anniversary Tour appearance — one of only four on the east coast— was overwhelmingly white, but at this point no one would call them young or hip.
Jug band music has always been about joy and there was plenty of that to go around. And nostalgia, too. The latter was expected, but a little more relentless than necessary. In fact, Jim Kweskin and Maria Muldaur abused the phrase “back in the day” so much that Geoff Muldaur eventually banned its usage.
What about the music? It was so sweet, and hard to beat. It certainly was a treat for me.
The Kweskin line-up featured Jim and the Muldaurs, as well as banjo man Bill Keith, who was often a mystery in terms of the sound mix. They were abetted by Fritz Richmond’s old gang, the BBQ Orchestra. Geoff Muldaur nodded to Fritz’s absence by playing one of his washboard conflagrations, but his jug was nowhere to be seen or heard.
If the nonet wasn’t enough, Woodstock mainstay John Sebastian sat in for most of the set, adding harmonica and archtop guitar. His presence meant that it was one sixth of an Even Dozen Jug Band reunion as well, given that he played with Maria in that crew when was she still Maria D’Amato (it rhymes with tomato, although we’re not talking about pronunciation).
The sermon didn’t last long, a few hours at best. But the testifying was funky, loose and righteous, and it felt good to be in the church with the folks who built it.
JIM KWESKIN & THE JUG BAND SET LIST
Boodle am Shake
Jug Band Music (with John Sebastian)
I’m a Woman (with John Sebastian)
Blues in the Bottle
Richland Woman Blues (with John Sebastian)
My Old Man (Barbecue Orchestra only)
Eight More Miles to Louisville
The Boll Weevil
The Sheik of Araby
Garden of Joy
Sweet to Mama
Papa’s On the Rooftop (with John Sebastian)
Wild ‘Bout My Lovin’
I Ain’t Gonna Marry
If You’re a Viper
He Calls That Religion (with John Sebastian)
Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me
Stealin’ (with John Sebastian)