Fiddlers Crossing is starting the new year with some old-style American music on Friday, January 12th with the jug band icon Jim Kweskin concert. Kweskin is best known as a singer and leader of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. The band was active in the Boston area in the 1960s, modernizing the sounds of pre-World War II rural music and adding the element of “fun” at a time when the coffee houses were filled with murder ballads and protest songs.
Jug band music is an all-American mix of traditional folk and blues, with some jazz thrown in. It was originally played on handmade instruments and whatever else was at hand; washtub bass, spoons, washboard and of course, jugs you blew into. The list of musicians and groups with roots in jug band music is long. Some of the most notable are: David Grisman, Stefan Grossman, John Sebastian, Geoff and Maria Muldaur, Jesse Colin Young, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and even the Grateful Dead. But when you Google “Jug Band Music,” Jim Kweskin’s name comes up first.
Born in Stamford, CT, Kweskin arrived in Massachusetts in 1959 to attend Boston University. His interest in folk music, however, soon led him to travel throughout the United States collecting songs. Kweskin developed ideas for a jug band while passing through California, St. Louis, and Denver in 1961-1962. He put together the first incarnation of his new group when he returned to Boston in 1963. Joined by guitarist Geoff Muldaur, banjoist Bob Siggins, harmonica player Bruno Wolf, and jug player Fritz Richmond, the new band debuted in Cambridge coffee houses.
Kweskin is also known for his engaging guitar style adapted from the ragtime-blues fingerpicking guitar styles of artists such as Blind Boy Fuller, Mississippi John Hurt and others who were gaining fame during the folk revival of the 1960s. He made it his own by using the more complex chords of pop and jazz.
Since his jug band days, Kweskin has continued to explore traditional folk and blues, as a solo artist. He sometimes plays as a duo with Geoff Muldaur. He will be performing solo at Fiddlers Crossing, mixing some of his jug band tunes with ragtime versions of standards. But as always with Jim Kweskin, front and center, his performance will be fun!
Fiddlers Crossing is located at 206 East F St. at Robinson St. in Downtown Tehachapi.
Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, Lucky’s Barbershop, online at Fiddlerscrossing.com or with a credit card by calling 823-9994. Tickets to the concert are $25, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.