|Music in a Jugular Vein
Jug band music is one of the most original and distinctive of American musical genres. In the short period of its popularity (late 1920s to early 1930s), it bridged the gap between the traditional blues of the Mississippi delta and the early jazz and blues bands found in Chicago and St. Louis.
In many aspects, the music reflects the social conditions of its time. It is most often identified with poor musicians who found their expressive outlets on homemade, makeshift instruments such as washboards, washtubs, and, of course, jugs. In hard times jug bands were frequent fixtures at "house rent" parties, ad-hoc fundraisers held at the beginning of the month.
Jug band music was "re-discovered" during the folk music revival period of the 1960s. Young musicians with guitars, banjos, and fiddles organized jug and "skiffle" bands in attempts to capture the infectious, good-time qualities of the music. As with the blues, many elements of the music found its way into rock and the repertoires of many well-known bands.
Through photographs, recordings, and video, this course will provide an introduction to jug band music, its influences, and its true role as unique Americana.
Bebo White has been playing in jug bands and collecting jug band recordings and materials since the mid-1960s. His collection will ultimately be housed in The Southern Folklife Collection at The University of North Carolina. He was one of the founding members of The California Jug Band Association that has organized jug band music festivals in San Francisco and other locations in Northern California.