The Even Dozen Jug Band

The Even Dozen Jug Band

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The Even Dozen Jug Band Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

There's something incredibly catchy and off-the-cuff about songs like "Take Your Fingers Off It" or "Come on In." In fact, these tunes sound exactly like what one might expect from a large group of musicians who decided to play together just for the fun of it. Mandolins, banjoes, pianos, guitars, fiddles, kazoos, and trombones vie with one another, creating a raucous free-for-all. The vocals on pieces like "Overseas Stomp" and "Evolution Mama" have a loose, just-for-the-heck-of-it feel that keeps the material lively and irreverent. A number of the Even Dozen Jug Band's performers went on to bigger and better things, including John Sebastian, David Grisman, Maria Muldaur, and Stefan Grossman, but they seldom made music this enjoyable. "I Don't Love Nobody" kicks off with bit of wild kazoo and trumpet, while a bluesy harmonica sets off a superb version of "On the Road Again." The multiple combinations of instruments and voices, along with an exuberant approach, guarantee no boredom on this lovely disc. Even instrumentals like "Mandolin King Rag," "Rag Mama," and "Original Colossal Drag Rag" sparkle. Certainly no stickler for strict traditionalism, the band shows how blues, ragtime, and jazz can be used to freshen up worn-out material. While the Even Dozen Jug Band avoided the sophomore slump by making only one album, a reissue by Collector's Choice in 2002 makes it easily available. The reissue also includes Richie Unterberger's helpful liner notes, providing a historical backdrop to this exciting, though short-lived, band.

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