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date: 13 November 2019

Jug bandlocked

  • Paul Oliver

Extract

An instrumental ensemble developed among black Americans in the early 20th century as a novelty entertainment. The jug itself, used as a bass instrument, is frequently an earthenware demi-john; the player either buzzes the lips or purses the lips over the narrow opening and exhales short plosive bursts; these sounds are amplified by the jug, which acts as a resonator. Generally only one jug is used in the band; the rest of the group comprises strings and a melody instrument such as a harmonica or kazoo. However, bands with three jugs were observed in Florida in 1904. One of the earliest such groups to record, the Dixieland Jug Blowers from Louisville, Kentucky, occasionally used two jugs, as in Skip Skat Doodle Do (1926), and as many as three horns, as in Southern Shout (1927). The jazz clarinettist Johnny Dodds performed with them on some recordings and the jazz pianist Clarence Williams also favoured the jug, playing it himself in ...

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