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The Even Dozen Jug Band

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The Even Dozen Jug Band was less a band than a short-lived project thrown together at the height of the jug band craze in 1964 toward the end of the American Folk Revival. Like other jug bands of the era, the Even Dozen Jug Band loosely based their style on jug band music from the 1920s (the Memphis Jug Band and Cannon's Jug Stompers) and relied on unusual instruments like kazoos, jugs, and washboards. Unlike other jug bands of the era, the Even Dozen Jug Band boasted an enormous line-up that included future notables like John Sebastian (the Loving Spoonful) and Maria Muldaur. In the band's short life span, it played very few live dates, but it did leave behind an excellent self-titled LP in 1964 for Elektra.

While often overshadowed by band members later achievements, The Even Dozen Jug Band is one of the most distinguished albums of the late revival. Unlike the many protest songs of the era, "Take Your Fingers Off It" and "Evolution Mama" offered no deeper moral message than to have a good time. This lack of seriousness was a sobering smack in the face to the revival's self-righteous streak. The instrumental work, featured on "Original Colossal Drag Rag" and "The Even Dozens," was loose and adventurous, inviting audiences to kick off their shoes and dance. The album also included a number of sexually suggestive songs—"Come On In" and "All Worn Out"—that would've never shown up on a Joan Baez album.

The Even Dozen Jug Band eventually fell apart when the members—many who were very young—chose staying in school over hitting the road to promote the group. Still, as Richie Unterberger pointed out in the liner notes to The Even Dozen Jug Band, most of the members eventually entered the music business in some capacity. Steve Katz joined Blood, Sweat, & Tears while David Grisman formed his own quintet in the '70s. After performing with another jug band (Jim Kweskin), Muldaur became a solo artist in her own right, scoring a big hit with "Midnight on the Oasis" in the early '70s. Stefan Grossman set up his own guitar workshop while Joshua Rifkin worked as an arranger with Judy Collins. All members, however, could always look back with a certain amount of pride at their first musical enterprise. After 40 years, The Even Dozen Jug Band remains sassy, irreverent, and most of all, fun. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

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