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Jug band

The meaning of «jug band»

A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of conventional and homemade instruments. These homemade instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, bones, stovepipe, jew's harp, and comb and tissue paper. The term jug band is loosely used in referring to ensembles that also incorporate homemade instruments but that are more accurately called skiffle bands, spasm bands, or juke (or jook) bands (see juke joint) because they do not include a jug player.[citation needed]

Early jug bands were typically made up of African-American vaudeville and medicine show musicians. Beginning in the urban South (namely, Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, Tennessee), they played a mixture of blues, ragtime, and jazz. The history of jug bands is related to the development of the blues. The informal and energetic music of the jug bands also contributed to the development of rock and roll.

The jug sound is made by taking a jug (usually made of glass or stoneware) and buzzing the lips into its mouth from about an inch away. As with brass instruments, changes in pitch are controlled by altering lip tension, and an accomplished jug player could have a two-octave range. The stovepipe (usually a section of tin pipe, three of four inches in diameter) is played in much the same manner, with the pipe rather than the jug serving as the resonating chamber. There is some similarity to the didgeridoo, but there is no contact between the stovepipe and the player's lips. Some jug and stovepipe players utilize throat vocalization along with lip buzzing, as with the didgeridoo.

The swooping sounds of the jug fill a musical role halfway between the trombone and sousaphone or tuba in Dixieland bands, playing mid- and lower-range harmonies in rhythm.

In the early days of jug band music, homemade guitars and mandolins were sometimes made from the necks of discarded manufactured guitars fastened to large gourds that were flattened on one side, with a sound-hole cut into the flat side, before drying. Banjos were sometimes made from a discarded guitar neck and a metal pie plate.

Jug bands from Louisville, Kentucky, were the first to record. The violinist Clifford Hayes's Old Southern Jug Band recorded as early as 1923.[1] Whistler & His Jug Band, often making use of a nose whistle, first recorded in September 1924 for Gennett Records.[2] Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band and Dixieland Jug Blowers were also among the first to record. The vaudeville-blues singer Sara Martin and "The Blue Yodeler", Jimmie Rodgers, both employed these bands for their recordings. Louisville bands often used whiskey jugs and were more jazz-oriented, a melding of string band and ragtime influences. Jug bands made street performances, played at parties, and began entertaining on riverboats on the Ohio River around 1900 and first appeared at the Kentucky Derby in 1903.

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