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The Christmas Jug Band - On the Holiday Highway

Globe Records

16 Tracks, 72: 55 Total Running Time

Styles: Early American Classic Jazz- Blues Infused Jug Band, Acoustic, Swing, Skiffle, Novelty, and Folk

Another Jug Band CD, you might ask? I certainly did, when asked to review this seasonal release. After all, who buys seasonal skiffle? Well, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I liked The Christmas Jug Band, On the Holiday Highway. While I’m not a total Scrooge, I certainly appreciate the pontificating but clean and light-hearted slap stick stabs at the big ole guy in the red suit. What better way is there to poke innocent fun at our American holiday tradition than through traditional early American classic jug music?

Produced by Tim Echliman and the CJB, the music was recorded live across 7 shows at 4 locations in Northern California, between 2006 and 2008 at locations that included The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley, CA Paradise Performing Arts Center, Paradise, CA; Masonic Hall, Mill Valley, CA; and the Sweetwater Station, Larkspur, CA.

The talented line up of prominent San Francisco Bay Area artists include Austin de Lone, Paul Rogers, Dan Hicks, Tim Eschliman, Jim Rothermel, Gregory Leroy Dewey, Turtle Vandermarr, Blake Richardson, Knucklehead McGurk, Ken “Sakebite” Jacobs, Antoni Lech Wyarznski, Anthony Paule, Bowen Brown and special guests Country Joe McDonald, Norton Buffalo, Mike Duke and Dan Hicks' Lickettes.. Whew….yes, 17 of them.

To give you an example of the wild sleigh ride you’ll take with these 16 tracks, you could go from a pew-jumping thigh-slappin’ instrumental whammy of early American classic jitterbug-tap with “Shoot ‘Em in the Pants”, to an unlikely match up of the beats of Old-World Latin American tango with New World American-comic song writing such as in the questioning of Santa’s existence in Track 2’s “This Christmas Night” (“Daddy’s sittin’ in his easy chair, when Santa comes, he’s never there; he’s got a secret but he doesn’t dare tell me on this Christmas night”).

“Santa’s Going Crazy This Year” might be the words and title track for #4, but the jazzy blues cacophony of piano, percussion, and soprano and baritone sax will send you grooving to the dance floor regardless of the message; grab your Woodford Reserve for this one, blues-jazz lovers.

Spoofs and parodies continue throughout with the likes of “Jolly Ol’ Soul”, “Christmas in the Bottle”, and “Evathang Gonna Be All Right”, all performed live with splendid traditional jug, jelly roll piano, classic blues vocal innuendos and gleeful audience oohs and aahs in the background.

This is” Jeff Foxworthy & Larry the Cable Man meet up with the San Franciscan audience-favorite entertaining comedy troupe “Christmas Jug Band”. And while this is the perfect CD to get a few laughs and loosen up your guests at your holiday party, don’t think this is a seasonal-only play. Their clever comedic songwriting is also cleverly underpinned with some talented playing. No, this ain’t “Away in the Manger” or “Silent Night”, because—let’s face it: they don’t sound too good with kazoos, slide whistles, washboards and accordions. So think of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” kickin’ it up with some jug! Enjoy!

Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale, MS, birthplace of the blues. Archives of her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found online at

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