By James Reed (www.bostonglobe.com):
For a group as colorful and influential as it was, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band had a rather dubious start.
Maynard Solomon, cofounder of Vanguard Records, had seen Kweskin perform at Club 47 in Cambridge with a ragtag group of musicians. Afterward Solomon asked Kweskin if he’d like to make a record with that band, to which Kweskin replied, “Well, that’s not a band, but I’d love to make a record.”
That was in 1963, at the height of the folk revival that found its mecca in Harvard Square’s Club 47, now known as Club Passim. Kweskin was one of the scene’s kingpins, helping to making jug band music, a hybrid of old-time jazz, blues, and folk, hip again. He, and later his bandmates, perfectly epitomized the genre’s blend of zany humor and serious musical chops. With their odd array of instruments and free-spirited appearance, they cut a kooky presence before disbanding in 1968.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kweskin has reunited the Jug Band’s surviving members — which also include Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur, and Bill Keith — for a short run of tour dates, including two nights at Club Passim on Aug. 29-30. Perhaps no one is more surprised about the gigs than the man whose band bears his name.
“I was asked to reunite the Jug Band maybe 15 years ago, and I wasn’t into it at all. I don’t know what came over me. . . . I felt like the Jug Band was my past, and I didn’t want to go back to my past,” Kweskin says from his home in Los Angeles. “But then I thought, Fritz [Richmond] is gone, Mel [Lyman] is gone. There’s only a few of us left, and it’s very unlikely we’ll do this again.” (more…)