LIVE: The Jim Kweskin Jug Band Reunion @ The Egg, 7/22/15
Review by Bokonon
Two years ago, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band hit The Egg as part of its very brief 50th Anniversary Tour. The sheer novelty of the occurrence struck awe in the hearts of jug fans throughout the Northeast, and the hellacious combination of four original members plus John Sebastian and the BBQ Orchestra was quite simply dazzling.
Last week, Kweskin and company returned to The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, but the novelty was gone. None of the key players have been hard to find locally of late, even if in different combinations. Thankfully, in novelty’s place was an even better backing crew, a crushing set list and, well, more of that jug band music that seems to make you feel just fine.
Banjo man Bill Keith (recently honored at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival for his incredible contributions to the instrument) unfortunately stayed at home due to health issues, but he sent his son Martin Keith along to play the bass. Bowing the big box, Martin often sounded like a jug. Alongside him in the back row were violinist Jason Anick and five-stringer Bennett Sullivan.
Damn if that trio wasn’t just fine. Fiddler Anick is wonderfully talented and handled much of the soloing load throughout the night, each time inventing something new. And Sullivan strummed plectrum style just as Keith did on early Kweskin albums, switching easily to three-finger for spanking skinhead leads.
As before, Sebastian came along for the ride, but this time stayed onstage for virtually the entire show.
Jim Kweskin himself is a marvel. Smooth, dapper and a helluva picker, he still boasts one of the most distinctive voices in pop music. Tunes like “Rag Mama,” “Sheik of Araby” and the infectious “Guabi, Guabi” rolled out of him with greasy ease.
Geoff Muldaur’s, um, picant humor provided the perfect foil, and it’s been scientifically proven that one can never hear him sing enough, and not just when he sucks on helium for the silliness of “Sweet Sue.” “Sweet to Mama” and “Minglewood Blues” were, yes, sweet reminders of just what a joy the Jug Band was in its day.
Muldaur’s former sidekick, and, indeed, former wife, Maria Muldaur, bluesed it up on tunes that felt almost too familiar, perhaps because she’s kept many in her repertoire.
Sebastian (Maria’s comrade in the Even Dozen Jug band) was evidently happy as support for the evening, smiling off to stage right and thumping baritone guitar, knocking the six-string banjo or blowing signature harp licks.
The goal of jug band music has always been simple. It’s about loose, funky, fun.
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
UPCOMING: Maria Muldaur will be returning to Nippertown this fall with “Way Past Midnight,” a multi-media career retrospective celebrating the 40th anniversary of her smash hit, “Midnight at the Oasis.” The concert is slated for Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock at 8pm on Friday, October 9. Tickets are $45 & $65.
LIVE: Jim Kweskin & Happy Traum @ Caffe Lena, 11/13/14
LIVE: Geoff Muldaur @ Caffe Lena, 4/27/14
LIVE: Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band @ The Egg, 8/28/13
Jugs & Kisses: The 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band @ The Egg, 8/28/13
LIVE: Maria Muldaur & the Campbell Brothers @ the Music Haven, 7/28/13
Geoff Muldaur, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?
LIVE: John Sebastian @ Universal Preservation Hall, 7/29/11
LIVE: Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur & John Sebastian @ The Egg, 11/11/10
Jim Kweskin, What Was the First Record You Ever Bought?
LIVE: Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur @ Caffe Lena, 5/21/10
THE JIM KWESKIN JUG BAND REUNION SET LIST
Boodle Am Shake
Jug Band Music
I’m a Woman
The Sheik of Araby
Garden of Joy
Sweet to Mama
Would You Like to Play the Guitar?
I Ain’t Gonna Marry
Richland Woman Blues
He Calls That Religion
The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me