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Memphis Jug Band

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The Memphis Jug Band was an American musical group in the 1920s and 1930s. The band featured harmonicas, violins, mandolins, banjos, and guitars, backed by washboards, kazoo, and jugs blown to supply the bass; they played in a variety of musical styles.

Between 1927 and 1934 various African-American musicians in the Memphis, Tenn., area grouped around singer, song writer, guitarist, and harmonica player Will Shade (also known as Son Brimmer). The personnel of this jug band varied from day to day, with Shade booking gigs and arranging recording sessions.

Among the recorded members were (at various times) Will Shade (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Charlie Burse (pronounced Bursey) (guitar, mandolin, and vocals), Charlie Nickerson (piano and vocals), Charlie Pierce (violin), Charlie Polk (jug), Tewee Blackman (vocals, guitar), “Hambone” Lewis (jug), Jab Jones (jug, piano, vocals ), Johnny Hodges/Hardge (piano), Ben Ramey (vocals and kazoo), Casey Bill Weldon (guitar and vocals), Memphis Minnie (guitar and vocals), Vol Stevens (vocals, violin, and mandolin), Milton Robie (violin), Otto Gilmore/Gilmer (drums and woodblocks), and Robert Burse (drums). Vocals were also provided by Hattie Hart, Memphis Minnie, Jennie Mae Clayton (Shade’s wife), and Minnie Wallace, with Charlie Burse often contributing beautiful harmony parts to Shade’s lead vocal lines. In the case of Memphis Minnie, the Memphis Blues Band accompanied her on two sides for Victor Records, recorded in 1930 when the band’s career was “winding down”.

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