Born in Connecticut, guitarist-banjo player-singer Jim Kweskin came up to Boston to attend BU and stayed. But he was performing old-time jazz songs and ’20s music before he ever heard, and fell under the spell of, the jug band sound. The Jug Band was born when an executive from Vanguard records caught Kweskin and a bunch of pals playing at Club 47 and offered him a recording session. Kweskin said that wasn’t his band, but if he could wait three months, he’d put one together. He did, with the original lineup of Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur on guitars and vocals, Bob Siggins on banjo (later with The Charles River Valley Boys), Bruno Wolfe on vocals and kazoo, and jug and washtub bass wizard Fritz Richmond. Subsequent lineups included the irrepressible vocalist Maria D’Amato (later Muldaur), banjo innovator Bill Keith (who had played with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys), Richard Green on fiddle and harmonica player Mel Lyman. They recorded four albums, were a mainstay at the 47 when they weren’t on tour to venues as far flung as the Fillmore rock ballroom in San Francisco, and played the Newport Folk Festival three times. Lyman left the group to form a commune on Fort Hill, in the midst of Boston’s largely African-American Roxbury neighborhood. It published the alternative weekly Avatar and founded Boston’s Filmmakers Cinematheque in 1966 in the building which in early 1967 became the home of The Boston Tea Party.
(by Ed Symkus and Steve Nelson)
Published on December 28, 2012