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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: arlotone on February 26, 2019, 11:19:51 AM

Title: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: arlotone on February 26, 2019, 11:19:51 AM
I've been wondering about the origin of the Jug Band Waltz by the Memphis Jug Band, recorded in 1928. The Kentucky Waltz recorded by Bill Monroe in 1946 is pretty similar. It's hard to imagine Monroe based his song on that, but I guess it's possible. I imagine it's more likely there was a common melody or chord progression they were both based on. Does anyone know?

Then consider Winterlude recorded by Bob Dylan in 1970. He was probably familiar with both songs; was he copying one or the other, or both, or a common ancestor?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SSc5Kk60E4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAnOnmUbvyc

No Dylan on YouTube, but here's a sample clip:
https://www.amazon.com/Winterlude/dp/B008EDFBHW
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: tmylet on February 26, 2019, 01:04:47 PM
I have no idea about Monroe being influenced by the Memphis Jug Band but he certainly had a big hit with Sitting On Top of the World which originated with the Mississippi Sheiks.
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: TenBrook on February 27, 2019, 07:47:29 AM
arlotone,
I may be totally off here but listening to it I thought it reminded me of something I'd heard before. It took me all day to realize I was thinking of a version of 'Sweet Bunch of Daisies' by McMichen's Melody Men. Looking it up it looks like it's an old standard from pre 1900 that was first recorded by an old time band in 1925 (Homer Davenport & The Young Brothers Band).

Here's a not very great sounding version of the McMichen's Melody Men version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzsOqMFLMHg

Again, I may be totally off but thought I'd share.


Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: Stuart on February 27, 2019, 01:01:55 PM
I imagine it's more likely there was a common melody or chord progression they were both based on. Does anyone know?

I don't know about any specific or generic version that can be definitively said to be the basis, but since waltzes had been around for decades, if not longer, in the U.S. by the 1920s, I agree with you in that there were probably many waltzes, both recorded and played live for dances, that the MJB was familiar with before they composed and recorded the "Jug Band Waltz." Obviously it has the defining features of a waltz, but I'd have to do a lot of listening before either tracing it to or ruling out any extant recorded waltzes that preceded it.

BTW, Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz" is said to have been the inspiration for "The Tennessee Waltz."
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: arlotone on February 27, 2019, 04:07:30 PM
I may be totally off here but listening to it I thought it reminded me of something I'd heard before. It took me all day to realize I was thinking of a version of 'Sweet Bunch of Daisies' by McMichen's Melody Men.

That's cool! I had a similar experience with Winterlude: after listening to the Jug Band Waltz and Kentucky Waltz, I had this tickle in my brain and kept hearing echoes of another song, but it took a while to remember what it was.

I think the melody of this one is similar, but the chord progression isn't as close a match to the other three songs. I'm not sure where to draw the line on which melodies are related. Maybe someone well-versed in waltzes would say that so many waltzes share a similar melody that, relatively speaking, none of these are anything alike.

In any case, this at least helps put the jug band version into the context of what they'd have been familiar with.

Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: Rivers on February 27, 2019, 04:25:09 PM
You might find this thread interesting that Pan started a while back, it's devoted to waltz time in country blues and covers a lot of ground - https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=3475.msg26393#msg26393

I've added the "waltzes" tag to this thread also.
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: arlotone on February 28, 2019, 08:42:57 PM
You might find this thread interesting that Pan started a while back, it's devoted to waltz time in country blues and covers a lot of ground

Ah, great. I'll be curious to listen to the examples in that thread and see how different or similar they are to the set I'm looking at here.
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: arlotone on November 28, 2019, 05:20:26 PM
I finally sat down and listened to all the waltzes included in this YouTube playlist (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNEJV1lNKyyU2DjdjwKfNNDXiwVhbwWBQ&feature=mh_lolz), provided in the Waltzes played by CB artists (https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=3475.0) thread. As I expected, there are some common chord progressions. The most common is some variation of this:

I I IV I
I I II V
I I IV I
IV I II-V I

For example: Wednesday Waltz, Sunset Waltz, Sweet Bunch of Daisies

A less common progression goes from I to V to I in the first two lines, like this:

I I I V
V V V I
I I I IV
IV I V I

For example: Nile of Genago, Guian Valley Waltz

The variation used by the Jug Band Waltz adds a VI chord in the turnaround, which was pretty rare in this playlist:

I I I V
V V V I
I I I IV
IV-V I-VI II-V I

Only the Guian Valley Waltz uses exactly this progression. The Sunset Waltz uses a VI, but is more like the first progression.

Looking at the dates of the songs with this type of progression is interesting:

1926 - Nile of Genago (Lonnie Johnson)
1928 - Jug Band Waltz (Memphis Jug Band)
1929 - Guian Valley Waltz (Jarvis & Justice)

Listening again to the Kentucky Waltz, it still sounds more similar to the Jug Band Waltz than most of these examples -- same progression, similar melody, similar overall feel. But it's also pretty similar to the Guian Valley Waltz. Was Guian Valley influenced by Jug Band Waltz, or were they both influenced by the earlier Nile of Genago? In an interview in 1960, Will Shade rated Lonnie Johnson as the best guitarist he'd ever heard, so it's possible. Shade also said that he got the idea to start a jug band listening to Dixieland Jug Blowers records from 1926, so perhaps he absorbed this Lonnie Johnson record as an influence that same year.

On a side note, the Crazy Waltz by Jesse Fuller stood out to me as having a similar melody -- mainly in the turnaround -- and overall feel. I guess it helps that he had the same harmonica and kazoo instrumentation as the MJB.
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: Suzy T on November 29, 2019, 11:11:40 AM
Just listened to Nile of Genago (what do you suppose that name refers to??) and I definitely can hear some relationship to Jug Band Waltz. Thanks for mentioning Nile of Genago, I had never known about it.  Beautiful waltz, beautiful playing. It's good to remember that the blues and jazz players were dance musicians.
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: Stuart on November 29, 2019, 03:39:57 PM
...Just listened to Nile of Genago (what do you suppose that name refers to??)

https://tinyurl.com/s6b48ys

Well Suzy, like Diddie Wa Diddie, I guess it's a great big mystery (--Even for the experts).
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: arlotone on December 05, 2019, 09:53:54 AM
Thanks for the Lonnie Johnson link -- funny stuff there about his kazoo playing.  :D

I just listened to this again with a fresh ear and had these thoughts:

- The Jug Band Waltz melody seems to be Will Shade's; it's not very similar to the Nile of Genago melody and doesn't appear in any of the earlier examples I heard.

- The Jug Band Waltz chord progression seems to come from the Nile of Genago, with the addition of the VI chord.

- The Guian Valley Waltz chords and melody are both only slightly different from the Jug Band Waltz chords and melody. (The chords don't include the VI and the melody dips down in the 3rd bar.) But I don't know if they were taken directly from the Jug Band Waltz. I know Will Shade was listening to Lonnie Johnson, but I don't know if Justice and Jarvis were listening to Will Shade -- but I found a few links indicating that it's possible (http://www.herbmuseum.ca/content/dick-justice-cocaine-1928).

- The Kentucky Waltz melody is most similar to the Guian Valley Waltz melody (with the dip down), while its chords are most similar to the Jug Band Waltz chords (with the VI). So it seems those are both likely sources, but I don't know if Bill Monroe would have heard those records directly, or just heard those elements carried forward from other musicians. (For Monroe to hear the Jug Band Waltz when it came out in 1928, he would have had to have been a 16 year old listening to blues records -- not out of the question since he was already performing with his brother's band at that time. For him to hear it around the time of recording the Kentucky Waltz in 1946, he would have had to have found an 18 year old blues record.)

In summary, it seems to me that the Nile of Genago influenced the Jug Band Waltz directly, and then the Jug Band Waltz influenced the Kentucky Waltz, but I don't know if that was directly, or indirectly through the Guian Valley Waltz or other intermediaries.
Title: Re: Jug Band Waltz source
Post by: catyron on December 07, 2019, 11:50:42 PM
This was fascinating. I had never heard Lonnie Johnson's Nile of Genago -- but having heard it, i too think it is the direct inspiration for the MJB's Jug Band Waltz.

Jesse Fuller's Crazy Waltz was mentionid above, but it is not in this family. It is Jesse's riff on The Umbrella Man by Flanagan and Allen --

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcHxS7cLEjc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUiZjWjUFO0&t=28s
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