Record label: MVD Entertainment Group
Musical Artist: Memphis Jug Band
Software Format: CD
Memphis' Beale Street was tolerant after a fashion. Music helped and most popular were the jug bands. The most famous was Will Shade's Memphis Jug Band. Shade was a native Memphian, born in 1894. He was taught basic music by his mother and guitar by a man named Hucklebones. Will came across an old man who blew across the neck of a bottle. He was playin' an ole whiskey bottle you pick up anywhere, he said, So we said, 'Let's get a gallon jug.' So after we got a gallon jug we commenced to play it and . . . I played harmonica, guitar and also a can. Some people call it a garbage can but I calls it streamline bass. Around 1925, the Memphis Jug Band was formed. Two years later, Victor's Ralph Peer arrived on a recording trip. On February 24,1927, the MJB was in front of the mic. The four titles recorded, Sun Brimmer's Blues, Stingy Woman Blues, Memphis Jug Blues and Newport News Blues revelled in their exuberance. Vocals were shared evenly between Weldon and Shade and both were lifted by the vivacity of Shade's harmonica. All the while, Ben Ramey's kazoo must have had early listeners rolling up newspapers. The Victor engineers' rudimentary portable equipment barely caught Charlie Polk's jug. Shade's vocals introduced further elements in the band's synthesis. Memphis Jug is notable for its crooner-like ensemble singing, while Newport News hints at the guitar rhythms of northern Mississippi. So successful was the band's first release that Peer called the MJB to Chicago for a second session. Polk's jug posed no problem for the engineers this time; his rich emissions dominate all four tracks. Also featured here are Cannon's Jug Stompers - a band nearly as exuberant as the MJB. When Cannon died at 96 it had been a long haul. From his homemade first banjo, through medicine shows, a short recording career and a movie appearance up to his third marriage at the age of 75, and his involvement in the folk boom of the 1960s he seemed to get the most out of life.