Cincinnati Jug Band

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The Cincinnati Jug Band was led by two brothers, Bob Coleman (1906-1966) and Walter Coleman (1908-1937) who were fixtures of the red-light district centered on George Street in Cincinnati in the 1920s…
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The Cincinnati Jug Band was led by two brothers, Bob Coleman (1906-1966) and Walter Coleman (1908-1937) who were fixtures of the red-light district centered on George Street in Cincinnati in the 1920s and 1930s. Bob Coleman was the first to make records, traveling to Chicago in May 1928 with Sam Jones (aka Stovepipe No. 1) to make four sides for Vocalion. When he returned to Chicago in order to record for Paramount Records in January 1929, Coleman brought his younger brother Walter, and possibly Jones also, to record four more sides as the Cincinnati Jug Band. These are among the purest and rarest jug band records ever made, and original copies are highly prized by collectors. Oddly, two of these sides were issued under Bob Coleman's name. Coleman would journey to Richmond, Indiana alone for one more issued side on Paramount, "Sing Song Blues" (properly "Sing Sing Blues") in June of 1929. Another session attributed to "Walter Cole" made for Gennett in September 1930 may be by variant of the Cincinnati Jug Band, but this is uncertain.

Finally both brothers journeyed to Chicago in February and June of 1936 to record seven more pieces for Decca, including "I'm Going to Cincinnati," in all practical purposes a blues anthem for the George Street scene, and bawdy, unadulterated numbers such as "Smack That Thing" ("Hey there Mama/You gotta work/you got fly specks on your underskirt"). Mere months after their second Decca session, Walter Coleman's name turned up on the obituary page of the Cincinnati newspapers. No cause of death is listed, but as his age is given as only 29; it is possible that he met with foul play somehow in the dangerous surroundings of George Street. Bob Coleman likely got out of music, and by the time he died in 1966, George Street itself was gone, mowed under a ribbon of brand new interstate.