By incorporating all manner of homemade instruments, jug bands were hugely popular in America during the 1920s and early 1930s. With an unparalleled vibrancy this ‘do it yourself’ and often overlooked approach to music was highly influential in the history of the blues.
The original jug bands had their origins in the 1890s amongst African-Americans, and were then known as ‘spasm bands’. This ‘do it yourself’ approach to their instrument-making gained immense popularity in America during the 1920s and early 1930s, and became closely linked to the development of the blues. The jug could be earthenware or glass and was played by buzzing one’s lips into its mouth from about an inch away, thus creating a sound somewhere between that of a tuba or trombone. The swoop sounds that could be made gave the impression of sliding notes and a good player could get two octaves out of a good-sized jug. Incorporating all manner of homemade instruments, early jug bands were typically made up of African-American vaudeville and medicine show musicians and played a mixture of blues, ragtime and jazz music with a strong backbeat.
Not only was Memphis a centre for Delta blues during the late 1920s but it was also the home of many of the great jug bands including Will Shade’s Memphis Jug Band and Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers. These bands developed out of the country blues and songster traditions and created an upbeat and comic sound perfectly suited to entertaining crowds, and far removed from the raw sound of the Delta blues. This allowed them to play all manner of places from street corners to vaudeville stages and saloons. The Memphis Jug Band recorded under several different names for various labels including the Picaninny Jug Band, the Carolina Peanut Boys and the Memphis Sheiks and produced more sides than any other pre-war jug band including the featured classic ‘Stealin’....... więcej