Review: The Jake Leg Jug Band – Cotton Mouth

Posted on: Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013


The Jake Leg Jug Band – Cotton Mouth

(Oprah Sounds: OS 001-02)

Duncan Wilcox who takes lead vocals and plays; double bass and kazoo, decided to form The Jake Leg Jug Band in February two thousand and twelve, approximately a year after his previous band ‘The Queensbury Rules’ who, after nine years of playing together mutually decided to disband and go their separate ways.

The members of the JLJB include: Purcy Harmonica; vocals, harmonica, washboard and ukulele, Neil Hulse; vocals, guitar, From The Slippery Hill Boys Andy Anderson adds vocals and banjo, Esther Brennan who is a member of The Boat Band, also supplies vocals and washboard, the added depth and texture comes from James Berriman and Pete Shirley on guitars with Robbie Sherratt on fiddle, the Clarinets, saxophone and trombone are played by Matt Palmer and Pete Brown.

All twelve numbers are from the 20s and 30s and pay homage to that period; the band presents the numbers in a combination of enticingly warm, comforting and indeed highly foot-tapping styles which include country blues, vaudeville, ragtime, gospel and jug music.

There is a bright and jaunty start to the proceedings with Gus Cannon’s “Bring it With You When You Come,” a nice loping feel is created by the interspersing of guitar and banjo while a lovely stroking washboard gives added texture and above it all gentle vocals steadily urge the number along. Big Bill Broonzy’s “Keep Your Mind On It,” possesses a lilting, swinging feel that is delivered by a gentle sweet guitar and Esther’s equally sweet vocals floats above it all. The mixture of easy-going banjo and caressing harmonica are key features throughout and this is evident on Burl C. ‘Jaybird’ Coleman’s gospel fuelled “I’m Gonna Cross The River Jordan,” a highlight of which here is the mournful fiddle that is so captivating.

One of the livelier foot-tappers is Charlie Patton’s “Shake It, Break It,” its joyous fiddle and seriously strumming banjo will certainly have you jigging across the carpet. Whereas Henry Thomas’s “Fishin’ Blues,” has been reworked to the speed of a gentle meandering stream with Esther providing the equally sparklingly gentle vocals. The sweetly swinging fiddle on the Mississippi Sheiks “Jake Leg Blues,” beautifully showcases the timeless quality of such sometimes forgotten gems. Other goodies here to hear are; Blind Blake’s “Diddie Wah Diddie,” along with Frank Stokes’ “I Got Mine,” Leroy Carr’s “Boxcar Blues,” and ‘Washboard Sam’ Brown’s “Easy Riding Mama.”

Although the versions here do not perhaps, contain the immediacy or urgency that the originals may or may not have possessed in depicting the less than wonderful conditions of that time, of which, no doubt a few of the authors of these numbers experienced themselves but, at the very least the JLJB bring these artists and their music lovingly to life, through these very fine recordings.



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