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Here we are going to explain some of the origins of the material that GJB have in their repertoire. We are not Musical Historians.. so if you find any errors or can help us please let us know. There are many really good web-sites out there dedicated to the history of Blues and Jug Band Music. You will find links to some of them on our links page.

Jug Bands..
The "Jug Band" style and sound lends itself to the mixture of instruments which are unique in their own special way. 

The line-up of instruments could be split into two groups.. group one could be referred to as "commercially manufactured" instruments. These would be instruments like Banjos, Guitars, Mandolins,  Whistles, Harmonicas, and possibly Kazoos, etc. Group two would contain every thing else i.e. "Improvised" instruments. It is the "Improvised" instruments such as the Jug, Washboard, Lumpit and the Spasmophone that give Jug Bands their unique sound. Early Blues bands often would use improvised or hand built instruments. Often for many guitarists of the 20s the only guitar they ever played was one that was made from a cigar box. But it is the hand built and improvised instruments like, wash tub bass, washboards, jugs, etc that turn a string blues band into a Jug band.

GJB are no strangers to improvised instruments.   This is the description of Mark Abrahams' Spasmophone...."The Spasmophone is a cobbled-together musical invention, with a tuba mouthpiece connected by apparently random plumbing to a giant antique gramophone horn." Apparently he used to wear this device. Another "device" was Pete Baston's "Lumpit".. ..."and Pete jammed a trumpet mouthpiece into an ancient wooden vehicle-inspection lamp handle, thus inventing a sort of wobbly cornet that the band called a "Lumpit.".."

Other instruments in the band tend to be more conventional... Banjos, Guitars, Mandolins, Kazoos etc. Well, maybe not all Banjos. Geoff Beaumont's banjo is a bit unusual. It has seven strings and no frets. Geoff plays it with a bottle neck... and to confuse anybody watching him he plays left-handed... but the banjo is strung conventionally for a right handed player, so he plays it upside down!

GJB are shown here brandishing some of those weird instruments.. Geoff Beaumont (far left) is holding some thing(?) and Steve Horne is wearing the horn..... yet another daft publicity shot.

The Ginger Jug Band Material and Sound.... musical sources.
The Jug Band sound  became a craze in Memphis during the late 1920s. The "sound" remained popular in Memphis, Louisville, and other cities of the mid-South until the mid 1930s. Exponents of the sound at that time were Gus Cannon and the Jug Stompers, Will "Son" Shade's Memphis Jug Band, and Noah Lewis' Jug Band to name but a few. Noah Lewis a harmonica player also worked with Gus Cannon. Much of the material that the GJB have in their repertoire came from these sources.

Here is a list that gives the origins of the songs/tracks on the GJB CD. The list is not completely accurate and we would appreciate any help in identifying the original sources of the songs. Rather than go into great detail on the songs here, please refer to the many expert sites on the net on the history of blues, check our links page for more information.

 

Stealing

Gus Cannon, or maybe the Memphis Jug Band? Does anybody have any more information?

Mule

Gus Cannon, full title "Mule Get Up In the Alley"

Diamond Ring

Memphis Sheiks? Does anybody have any more information?

38 Plug

Memphis Jug Band

Going back to Memphis

Memphis Jug Band

Borneo

Written by Walter Donaldson probably in the twenties. Sourced from a recording by the Kweskin Jug Band, a revivalist Jug Band circa 1960 .... does anybody have any more information? 

Sadie Green

Written by New Orleans trumpet player (1897-1937) Gilbert
Wells?  Does anybody have any more information? Wallis/Dunn?

Germany

Written by Noah Lewis

San

Written by Lindsay McPhail & Walter Michels. Does anybody have any more information?

Precious Lord

Claimed by Clarence Fountain of the 'Blind Boys of Alabama. Elvis recorded this song.. Does anybody have more information?

Smokey Joe Words: Jenny Baston Music: Geoff Beaumont.. an original

Viola Lee

Two versions of this song are known to exist.. Noah Lewis.. Recorded by Gus Cannons Jug Stompers

Round & Round

Memphis Jug Band

Coney Island Washboard

Written by Hampton Durand, Jerry Adams, Ned Nester, and Claude Shugart. Does anybody have any more information?

Boodle Am Sham Written by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams. Does anybody have more information?
Canned Heat Originally by Tommy Johnson..1896-1956. Recorded by Canned Heat with Bob Hite on vocals circa 1969. 
Chauffeur Memphis Minnie
Empty Pocket Blues Clive Palmer.. 1960s UK Jug Band
France Blues Also known as "Mobile Line" origin thought to be Bob Hall of Rocket 88. Does anybody have any more information?
Lard Clifford Hayes' Dixieland Jug Band
My Gal I'm satisfied with My Gal.  Written by J.Trent & P De Rose. Does anybody have any more information?
Overseas Stomp Memphis Jug Band
Jail House Now Memphis Sheikhs? Does anybody have any more information?
Lindy Bird Hop Memphis Jug Band - after Lindbergh's solo Atlantis flight 
Brown Stompin' Boots Geoff Beaumont.. an original
Ginger Roll Geoff Beaumont.. an original
Pinch of Salt Blues Geoff Beaumont.. an original
Jean Harlow Hudie Leadbetter - Leadbelly
Weeping Willow Blues Written by Paul Carter, recorded by Bessie Smith
Sleepy Time Blues Ralph McTell

This list will get longer as more GJB material comes to light. 



2000 Osiris-AG & GJB