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Birmingham Jug Band

The eight sides recorded by the Birmingham Jug Band in December of 1930 represent the entire recorded output by one of the era's earthiest, most raucous -- and most obscure -- jug bands. The membership of the group has never been verified, though many blues scholars place the semi-legendary harmonica player Jaybird Coleman at the helm alongside Ben Curry, a medicine-show entertainer also known as "Bogus Blind" Ben Covington ("bogus" because he wasn't really blind). Big Joe Williams claimed to have played with the group and identified the following lineup: Coleman, Covington, "One-Armed Dave" (Dave Miles), "Dr. Scott," a jug blower named "Honeycup," and a washboard player called "New Orleans Slide." The group likely performed in medicine shows across the Deep South, and their recorded repertoire provides some insight into the musical styles featured in such shows.

Of all the jug bands of the '20s and '30s, the Birmingham band had one of the most distinctive sounds on record, though their repertoire was significantly less diverse than that of groups like the Memphis Jug Band or Cannon's Jug Stompers. Probably the only full jug band from south of Memphis to record, the group had a more rural sound than its contemporaries, reflecting the aesthetics of the country string band as much as the popular jug band. The group's eight recordings are characterized by a prominent lead mandolin and equally prominent harmonica; gruff, heavy vocals; and a throbbing rhythm enforced largely by the insistently pounding jug. Also recording in the same Atlanta studio that day was King David's Jug Band, another little-documented group; together, these two outfits produced some of the liveliest and most intriguing records from the height of the jug band era. ~ Burgin Mathews
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: People Take Warning 3: Man Vs. Man

Disc 1

2. Wreck Of The Old 97

3. Bill Wilson

4. The Crash Of The Akron

5. The Fate Of Talmadge Osborne

8. Fate Of Will Rogers & Wiley Post

9. Down With The Old Canoe

10. Wreck Of Number 52

11. Kassie Jones Part 1

12. Kassie Jones Part 2

13. The Brave Engineer

14. The Sinking Of The Titanic

15. Fate Of Chris Lively And Wife

16. Wreck On The Mountain Road

17. The Unfortunate Brakeman

19. The Fatal Wreck Of The Bus

20. Last Scene Of The Titanic

21. Casey Jones

23. The Titanic

24. When That Great Ship Went Down

Disc 2

1. The Story Of The Mighty Mississippi

3. Dixie Boll Weevil

5. Ohio Prison Fire

6. Memphis Flu

7. Explosion In The Fairmount Mine

8. Storm That Struck Miami

9. When The Levee Breaks

10. Alabama Flood

13. High Water Everywhere, Part 2

14. Ryecove Cyclone

15. McBeth Mine Explosion

16. Dry Well Blues

17. Baltimore Fire

18. Tennessee Tornado

19. Dry Spell Blues, Part 2

20. The Santa Barbara Earthquake

21. The Death Of Floyd Collins

22. The Porto Rico Storm

23. Boll Weavil

24. The Flood Of 1927

Disc 3

1. Peddler And His Wife

2. The Little Grave In Georgia

3. Kenney Wagner's Surrender

4. Henry Clay Beattie

5. The Murder Of The Lawson Family

7. Railroad Bill

8. Frankie

9. Trial Of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Part 1

10. Trial Of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Part 2

12. Darling Cora

13. Billy Lyons And Stack O' Lee

14. Tom Dooley

17. Fingerprints Upon The Windowpane

18. The Bluefield Murder

20. Fate Of Rhoda Sweeten

21. Dupree Blues

22. Poor Ellen Smith

x

Track List: Richer Tradition Country Blues & String Band Music

Disc 1

1. Guitar Blues

2. Time Ain't Gonna Make Me Stay

3. Sundown Blues

4. Salt Lake City Blues

5. Whiskey And Gin Blues

6. James Alley Blues

7. Goin' To Leave You Blues

10. Bamalong Blues

11. Man Trouble Blues

12. Blue Coat Blues

13. Frisco Whistle Blues

14. Two Ways To Texas

15. Gravel Camp Blues

16. T And T Blues

17. Death Bell Blues

18. C.C. & O. Blues

19. Middlin' Blues

20. Rolling Log Blues

21. Kyle's Worried Blues

22. Bull Frog Blues

23. Sobbin' Woman Blues

24. Miss Meal Cramp Blues

25. The Unknown Blues

Disc 2

1. Jail House Blues

2. Blues, Just Blues, That's All

3. String Band Blues

4. Black Cat Blues

5. Dirty Guitar Blues

6. Boodle-Am-Shake

7. Quill Blues

8. The Jug Band Special

9. Cold Morning Shout

10. Violin Blues

11. Easy Winner

12. G. Burns Is Gonna Rise Again

13. I Got A Gal

16. Adam And Eve

17. Runnin' Wild

18. Giving It Away

19. Jackson Stomp

20. Old Hen Cackle

21. Travelin' Railroad Man Blues

22. Old Hen Cackle

23. Ted's Stomp

24. Dusting The Frets

Disc 3

3. Mean Conductor Blues

4. Back Door Blues

5. Spanish Blues

6. Helena Blues

7. I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop

8. Rising River Blues

9. She Could Toodle-Oo

10. Weak Minded Woman

11. Old Rock Island Blues

12. Cairo Blues

13. I Ain't Givin' Nobody None

14. Showers Of Rain Blues

15. Framer's Blues

16. If I Call You Mama

17. Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door

18. Mississippi Swamp Moan

19. Paddlin' Madeline Blues

21. South Carolina Rag

23. Poor Jane Blues

24. Window Pane Blues

25. Hot Jelly Roll Blues

Disc 4

1. Labor Blues

2. Goin' Away Blues

3. No Baby

4. Early Mornin' Blues

5. Dreaming Blues

6. Weeping Willow Blues

7. Way Down In Arkansas

8. Wild About My Loving

9. Indian Squaw Blues

10. Florida Bound

11. God Didn't Make No Monkey Man

12. Tallahatchie River Blues

13. Diamond Ring Blues

14. Bedside Blues

15. Lonesome Midnight Dream

16. Billy Goat Blues

17. That Won't Do

18. Ghost Woman Blues

19. 'toby' Woman Blues

20. Rollin' Dough Blues

21. Starvation Farm Blues

22. Farewell To You Baby

23. Teasin' Brown Blues

24. Married Woman Blues

25. Dago Blues

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