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Author Topic: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT  (Read 18636 times)

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Offline waxwing

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Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« on: April 12, 2008, 01:12:06 PM »
Was talking with Andrew a while back, and John M. more recently, about the idea of creating a list of jug band tunes for folks to bone up on before coming to camp. John M is thinking of leading some artist specific jams in 204 in the evenings, and mentioned jug bands would be one evening's focus, and Andrew and I (and others) have often lamented that so many of the jams at PT end up being one 12 bar Chicago shuffle after another (at a country blues camp?)

Another thing that John M said to me was that, you can't really jam on a song well until you know it. Which I guess is why those straight 12 bar, go to the IV here and the V here songs are popular. How many times have you sat there, strumming away, just trying to figure out the next chord in a song that you didn't really know? Anyway, we decided it would be a good idea to start this thread, to give folks a chance to post their favorite jug band, or maybe even jug band suggestive, songs.

What I was hoping was that we could post lyrics, chords, and an mp3 for each song. That way folks could first just listen to the character of each piece and get into the feel of each song. I guess a lot of folks feel that jug band music is all totally improvised (and I don't want to get into a philosophical argument here), but if you listen to a lot of the jug bands from the '20s, Cannon's Jug Stompers, The Memphis Jug Band and others, you'll here that a lot of the instruments, especially the harps, fiddles, kazoos and jugs, as well as mandos and guitars, are often playing a set side on almost every verse, with maybe a take-off now and then. Some of my favorite parts are when there is an obviously set duet or trio, like the jug, harp, kazoo lead in to the MJB's Cocaine Habit Blues, with Hattie Hart. Just beautiful.

So I'm hoping that some of the more proficient players will actually learn some of the set parts on these tunes before they take off on an improvisation. To me it would be great to start off simply, sounding somewhat like the originals (just as something for some of us to shoot for over the course of the week, maybe?), and then see where the players take things. I hope that's not too disagreeable to all? And I hope these postings give those of us who are shyer about soloing in a jam a chance to get a leg up on being able to step up with a little confidence (like, know the melody?). And I count myself among this last crew. (and that's no smilie)

I'll get the ball rolling with one of my favorite Jug Stomper's tunes, one by Noah Lewis, who does a great harp part on this one (hint, hint). Viola Lee, in the key of G, has a very twisted rhythmic sense that is really fun to play. The progression is 4 bars (16 beats) in G, 1 1/2 bars (6 beats) in C, 1 1/2 bars (6 beats) in G, 2 1/2 bars (10 beats) in D and 2 bars (8 beats) in G. But Gus (especially his jug) and Elijah Avery give such a strong duple feel (and never a 7th chord) that I find it easier to count in duples, 8 in G, 3 in C, 3 in G, 5 in D and 4 in G. The hard part for me is starting the last vocal line at the right point to make the 5 duples in D work out.-G-. (And BTW, it would be great if some of our vocalists would learn to sing these so we could swap verses and such.) And then, as a kicker, when Noah goes into his harp solos, he sometimes comes in a full bar early and everyone else just catches his momentum.

Here are the lyrics. Not meant to be a transcription and we could take that to a separate thread if we want to discuss. And, because I can't remember how to space the text correctly, I'll put the chords in parens before the word that they fall in, altho' the word is often syncopated before the beat. Like I said, it would be fun if some just learned to sing the songs.

Viola Lee - Noah Lewis
Key of G

The judge he (G)pleaded, clerk he wrote it, clerk he wrote it down, indeedy
The judge he (C)pleaded, clerk he wrote it (G)down
If you (D)miss jail sentence, you must be Nashville (G)bound

Some got (G)six months some got one solid, some got one solid year, indeed, Lord
Some got (C)six months some got one solid (G)year
But (D)me and my buddy, both got life time here

Fix my (G)supper mama, let me go to, let me go to bed, indeed. Lord
Fix my (C)supper mama, let me go to (G)bed
I been (D)drinkin' white lightnin', it's gone to my (G)head

And one other verse taken from Noah's New Minglewood Blues, I think, often sung here:

I wrote a (G)letter, I mailed it in the, I mailed it in the air, indeed, Lord
I wrote a (C)letter, I mailed it in the (G)air
You may (D)know by that I got a friend (G)somewhere

Hmm? Minglewood Blues. That'd be another good one. Anyone...? And I hope folks can put up some of the real standards, like Stealin' and On the Road and many others.

Check the mp3 below.

All for now.
John C.




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« Last Edit: April 12, 2008, 01:17:38 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Stuart

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2008, 04:41:37 PM »
I would add that it will be helpful to listen to how others have worked with the material, just to get some musical ideas re: how they handle the  material and what can be done with it. For example, The J Band does a commendable job with Viola Lee--not a carbon copy of the original by any means. They also do Minglewood and Stealin'. In addition, there's Kweskin, the Even Dozen, etc. to listen to. However, you're the expert in this area, John. I have merely thrown in my 2 cents into the mix.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2008, 07:36:54 AM »
As Wax mentioned we discussed this awhile back and I thought it was a great idea. The trick however will be to get some people who are playing melodic/lead instruments like harmonica, kazoo, mandolin, fiddle or what have you. The Memphis Jug Band, as Wax notes, tended towards pretty set arrangements with set melodies on harp, kazoo, mandolin during instrumental verses. Cannon's Jug Stompers seem to me to be similar in that respect, though a bit looser. So at least one person is going to have to be able to churn out a melody on one instrument or another. That will be key, IMO.

I haven't really picked any songs myself though will certainly be going through my jugband collection to see if something grabs me and sounds suitable. One song that comes to mind that isn't quite jugband but can easily work that way is the tune we recently saw Frankie, Kim and Sam do, Sleepy John Estes' Ain't Gonna Worry No More. An easy one to learn quickly I think (unless your playing a hard instrument like fiddle), compared to what I would consider more "advanced" material like the Memphis Jug Band. Just tossing it out there as a possibility. Buzz, learn the kazoo part!  :D Will post lyrics and mp3 later.

And may I humbly suggest not including Stealin' in a jug band focused jam? Not that I don't love the song (really), but I think the entire camp knows it, plays it, and will have ample opportunity to join in on a performance of it at any given time...  :P It's become almost the camp theme song. Or we can use it as a warm-up to get people playing...

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2008, 07:52:15 AM »
I realized Weeniepedia has the lyrics for I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More, saving me some work.  :P Thanks to the original transcriber. I've also attached an mp3. Chords will come later.

I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More - Sleepy John Estes
Self-accompanied, with Hammie Nixon, harmonica and Lee Brown, kazoo

REFRAIN: Come on down, I ain't gonna be worried no more (2)
You know I worried last night and all night before
You know by that I won't be worried no more
REFRAIN

REFRAIN: (2)
I was worried for you, I was worried for me
You know by that I'm gon' let it be
REFRAIN

REFRAIN: (2)
Now look here, baby, see what you done done
____ me love you now your man done come
REFRAIN

REFRAIN: (2)
Now my baby's doin' something that I never could stand
I b'lieve she's runnin' with a coon can game
REFRAIN

REFRAIN: (2)
Now I bought some slippers and I bought some socks
Come home last night and had the back door locked
REFRAIN

REFRAIN: (2)
Look here, baby, see what you done done
___ me love you now your man done come
REFRAIN

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2008, 10:49:15 AM »
I'd love to do Last Go Round, Stokes & Sane with someone... we don't have all the lyrics nailed, and the changes are all over the map, including a key change. 'Shambolic' is what it is. Not really a jug band but would work with added jug, washboard, violin/mando etc.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2008, 10:51:05 AM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2008, 11:34:28 AM »
Hey Stuart, not sure I would call myself an expert at anything that gets discussed around here, but I do know that The Grateful Dead also covered Viola Lee, as well as New Minglewood, Stealin' (How many times have you been told you're singing the lyrics wrong?) and others, but I am sincerely hoping someone doesn't show up with a Les Paul and a Marshall stack wanting to join a jugband  jam 'cause they got Jerry's noodle down.-G-

I didn't mean for this thread to be a statement of how John M will run his evening focused jams, or mean to say that what we are doing is an example of how all jams at PT should be run. Andrew and I had a discussion about how much fun it would be for us and perhaps a few others (KC and Em? Miller? Ghosty?) who enjoy playing closer to the originals, to post a list of songs that we could work on before camp so we could get closer to the original sound. As Andrew pointed out, having a bunch of guitarists that know the chords to a jug band tune doesn't really get you there, so we are dependent on players of other instruments to also want to get on board. This could be a tall order, because it does seem that many players of single note lead instruments are into a more free improvisation within the chord structure, not encumbered by melody or tradition, or at least, the jug band tradition. But, hopefully, among the few folks who frequent this board and go to PT and play these instruments, we might find a few. Hence, I posted the thread here on the Port Townsend board and not on the Main forum. But there will still be plenty of jams at PT in the Chicago shuffle tradition, as well as those with a rock feel, much jazz, cajun and, if Slack gets it together -G-, western swing (Ah-haaahhh).

But personally (which is the only thing I'm an expert on) I'm more interested in keeping a pre-war sensibility than in mining the '60s sensibilities you mentioned. But all are welcome!

Yeah, Riv, working up guitar duet numbers could be the basis for a jug band number. Post up what you got (mp3, changes, lyrics) In fact I was going to mention the family of songs by Jack Kelly/Will Batts (Cold Iron Bed, Highway 61, Country Woman) that we discussed in the Quotes thread. And I think Dan Sane plays one of the two guitars on some of those sides, which are full on JB tunes.

Also want to bring up a couple Patton tunes that he played with Son Sims, Elder Greene and Move to Alabama, which are fun guitar parts and the fiddle could easily be covered by a harp player, too. (Or, vice versa, fiddles could cover harp parts on jug band tunes.) I think these tunes suggest full on JB treatment. I'll post them when I get a chance.

Brosna, do you have "Tappin' That Thing" (Hammie Nixon?) in hand, or were you hopin' to learn it at camp? If you post an mp3 (and lyrics?) here, maybe we could work it out and be  practiced up a bit before we get there.

Andrew, yeah, I love the 3,3,4,3 bar structure of I Ain't Gonna Be Worried. Keeps you on your toes. So it seems like the 4 bar part would be C, C7, F, Ab, (Sleepy John seems tuned down a half step) but Frank seems to be substituting something way more rasty for the C7 (Frank?)

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 12:33:19 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Stuart

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2008, 12:18:37 PM »
John:

I agree--I was just suggesting listening to the instrumentation for a few ideas--no need to follow them. As you imply, that jug band sound with only guitars is well, you know... Pre-war is the vibe you want.

BTW, when I went through my LPs for a recent discussion at the PWBG, I ran across Historical HLP-36--"The Great Jug Bands," RF 6--"The Jug Bands," Blues Classics 2--"The Jug, Jook and Washboard Bands," and OJL-19--"More of That Jug Band Sound." Brought back fond memories. I almost got the feeling that I was being lured into the world of a madman--until I realized that I was the madman!!

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2008, 07:49:45 AM »
Hey Wax,
Just sorta blurted that out about "Tappin that Thing".  Been wanting to learn it for a long time now based on my enjoyment of Mark Lemhouse's and Steve and Del's versions.  Knew I had an old jug band version of it somewhere...

The Picaninny Jug Band do it on Volume 2 of the JSP collection "Memphis Shakedown-More Jug Band Classics".  1932.  Very poor quality.  I can barely hear Charlie Burse's guitar.  Haven't heard Hammie Nixon's version.

I'm not attached to this one at all.  I'm just so psyched to hear that there'll be some jams going on that don't allow "Sweet Home Chicago"!! (I just recently went to my first "acoustic" blues jams.  Not my thing.)

Cheers,
Mike

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Offline waxwing

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2008, 11:08:41 AM »
Hey Mike,

Right, Picaninny Jug Band. I googled and got pages of links to Hammie Nixon's 1983 CD by that name. But I knew I had heard a different version.

Well, if we're gonna look at the Picaninny JB, which I think is a great idea, I really like Got Good 'Taters. I think the lyrics are hilarious, and I also know Buzz has them on his computer 'cause he and I have worked on 'Taters a bit. But I do like that nose flute on Tappin' That Thing. Anyone play the nose flute?-G- I actually saw a guy play one at the last SF Jug Fest, but I didn't get to see what it looked like. (I'll google it). Anyway, I'll post the mp3 for Got Good 'Taters and maybe Miller will post the lyrics. The chords on both of these are pretty staright forward, I think, Tapin' sounding in E and Tater's in C. I think these songs call for two washboards, too.

All for now.
John C.

[attachment deleted by admin]
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Reso1

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2008, 01:50:27 PM »
John:

If I show up this year, I'll bring my 6 string banjo! Good for jug band tunes... works well on almost all these tunes too. Maybe some slide banjo too.

And... hey, what's wrong with "Sweet Home Chicago?" Or are we becoming "too purists?" If Robert Johnson isn't country blues, what is? He's certainly not responsible for what has happened to his tunes once he left this world. Why not a jug band version of "Sweet Home Chicago?" I just draw the line at "Smoke on the Water" Or maybe not........  if we only had amplifiers...... (8^)


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Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 03:50:25 PM »
Sorry to pick on a classic.  I can listen to RJ's "Sweet Home..." all day long.  And I'd love to hear a jug band version!  Heck, let's do a jug band "Freebird"! (Kidding.  Sorta...  Could be fun for a minute if I'm drunk enough.)

I guess I'm just kinda tired of shuffles in general and certain Chicago standards in particular.  Just my personal bias.  No offense intended.  To each their own.  I'm sure some folks are tired of MJH tunes. 

I guess I'm just bitter about some things:
-The acoustic blues jams I went to recently were all about Chicago tunes.
-Last week I tried to explain country blues to my manager.  She loves Chicago stuff.  I could've explained it better, but she had no clue what I was talking about. 
-Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival lasted for five days last year.  Seems like four and a half of those were electric.  I couldn't listen to a shuffle for weeks after that.
 
What can I say...  I'm a curmudgeon.

My bias is not fair.  Not logical.  And probably not very healthy.  But I is what I am...

"Sweet Home Chicago" on a guit-jo with washboard, kazoo and jug?  Now that's somethin' I would pay to hear (and see) over and over again.   :D

Mike

Offline Johnm

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 04:04:49 PM »
Hi all,
I thought I should speak to my concern regarding excessive preparation for the focused jams at Port Townsend this summer.  What I hope to see is a wide degree of participation both as learners and as song teachers.  My concern centers around the fact that not everyone attending Port Townsend comes to the Weenie site, so many people will be hearing about these jams for the first time the first night of camp, a long ways from their CD/record collections.  I'm worried that if, as a result of Weenie members having early access to the information about the focused jams, we wind up with several dazzling worked-out-in-advance recreations of historic jug band performances, attendees who didn't have time to prepare anything so high tech will be intimidated, and unlikely to offer up a simple solo guitar version  
of a song.  
To that end, and to create the opportunity for maximum participation, let's say that the initial persentations of songs will all be solo presentations.  In subsequent run-throughs, the various accompanying instruments on the original recording can be added, where people have worked out the parts.  Let's say, in addition, that every presenter is limited to two songs.  If, after everyone who has indicated a desire to present a song has done so, people who have already presented their two songs can trot out other songs they had on ice.  Does this sound fair?
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2008, 08:11:29 PM »
Hi John - I understand your hesitation about locked in performances of tunes and agree with your points above in general. The point that Wax and I talked about in our phone conversation was that, with regards to jug band tunes specifically (not, say Frank Stokes tunes or whatever artist a focused jam focuses on), any attempt to play jug band music is more dependent on a harmonica player or mandolin player or kazoo artist ( :P) taking the lead, knowing the melody, and being able to carry the supporting instruments along, like guitars. Wax and I discussed how, in our experience, there are relatively few harp players at PT, for instance, who play Will Shade or Noah Lewis harp parts - mainly set melodic parts - but many who can blow more "modern" sophisticated improvisations.

These somewhat set melodies seem more important than any accurate reproduction of the backup guitar parts or rhythm section to me. I'm thinking for example of Miller (aka Buzz, for those who haven't had the pleasure), who leads any number of performances of Stealin', by knowing and improvising around the kazoo part and carrying the song. Each performance of that song at camp has been different, from 3-person to 20-person jams, but it hangs together because there's someone who can play at any given point the melody that really makes the song, beyond the vocal part. Picking out the chords for such songs on the spot seems relatively easy. I don't know how easy it is for melodic instruments, not being a real player of those (I know that while I could figure out harp or mandolin parts for some of these tunes, it would take me days/weeks, not minutes/hours, but I'm a rank beginner on those instruments).

I'm also wondering if there is some confusion between this topic started by Wax and the Focused Jam thread. It's not clear to me that Wax was speaking specifically about a single focused jam evening (though I was, in my confusion, and I know you'd asked him to think about it) or making more of a general request for people to learn a bunch of jug band tunes for PT. He can clarify.  :D
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 08:13:15 PM by andrew »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2008, 10:25:30 PM »
Hi Andrew,
You make a good point about the instrumental countermelodies being just as essential to getting the feel of many jug band songs as are the sung melodies.  To that end, a full force rendition of a song in the first place might give people unfamiliar with the song a better idea of what they're trying to shoot for, and might also allow for participants to try and pick up different parts of the band accompaniment in accordance with their skills and interests.  I think the way to handle the non-intimidation issue is just to have a couple of people teach/lead songs from solo versions early on so that people see that it's okay to do that.
All best,
Johnm

Offline waxwing

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Re: Jug Band Tunes to Prep for PT
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2008, 12:00:45 AM »
Hey Johnm,

I'm sorry I mentioned your focused jam idea prematurely. Doing so has really led to a lot of confusion. The original idea that I think Andrew and I actually started discussing last year at PT was inspired somewhat by he and Em working out a fiddle and guitar duet, and all the JB stuff Miller and I were doing. We talked about creating a list of songs that we could work towards playing together at camp, and that later grew into soliciting players of other JB instruments, etc. It was really meant for those of us who play together only once a year to work on material we could do together.

I guess I wasn't very clear when I mentioned it to you, but I got the impression in our PM discussion that it would dovetail with your focused jam idea, which is why I mentioned it. I guess now maybe it still will? I did think of at least one song I could demo/teach for the jug band focused jam that has a pretty nice standalone guitar part (which I can add jug to) so I've still got you covered that way.-G-

But, as I said, this thread was really started to get together a small list, maybe 10-12 songs, so that anyone who wants to can get together and play them, whenever. Maybe it'll just be Riv and Ghosty playing a Stokes/Sane duet some lazy afternoon at the Weenie House or maybe two guys I never met grab me between classes and I grab Andrew and, maybe Lee walks by (I sure hope you make it this year, man) and we all start playing Got Good 'Taters in the Kitchen at 204 (guess I better carry my jug and washboard at all times). If others join in, that's fine.

I guess the idea was to plant some seeds early on, more from the jug band and string band mold, and see if it grows into anything during camp. So far I seem to keep trampling on the seedlings.

So, from here on out, this thread is a discussion to create a list of songs for casual playing at camp, whenever, wherever, whoever. And we'll try to keep all discussion of your focused jams on the thread you started for that purpose.

I hope this works.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

 


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