Two legends of American folk music have reunited for their first album together since the 60s. Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur were original members of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, a band so important that they directly inspired The Grateful Dead (via Bob Weir), The Lovin' Spoonful, Country Joe & The Fish, heck Janis Joplin opened up for them in San Francisco during the summer of love. Now these two old-school masters of American folk are taking a bit of a victory lap through their favorite traditional songs with Down on Penny's Farm, releasing Sept 23, 2016 on Kingswood Records.
There are gates to the city of American roots music, entryways that lead in new generations every decade. One of these gates is the Grateful Dead, whose love of folk and roots music has led many younger fans back to the source. But what gates did the Dead themselves use to come to the city? The answer lies with Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, whose rough-and-tumble roots music in the 1960s directly inspired countless bands like The Lovin’ Spoonful, Country Joe and the Fish, and The Dead via Bob Weir. In the early 1960s, Jim Kweskin and musical partner Geoff Muldaur (Maria Muldaur too and the other great musicians in the Jug Band) bounced between the Boston and New York folk scene, hanging out with Bob Dylan or Mississippi John Hurt at the Newport Folk Festival. Later in the 60s, they were at the summer of love in San Francisco, sharing stages with The Doors and having Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company open for them. Together, they and other luminaries of the folk world in the 1960s dived into the jug band and country blues repertoire of early American music, riffing and playing with old themes and musical techniques. When you hear the LPs they cut for venerable labels Vanguard Records and Warner/Reprise at the time, you may be surprised to hear not swirling psychedelia, but hardcore old-time country roots and blues music from the American tradition, played with a raw-edged, frenetic energy that was impossible to resist. What compelled people to join the Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur was a deeply subversive idea – that the roots of American music might already hold some of the wildest, craziest, most fun music ever made. It took these two guys and their friends from New England to find this out for their generation, but it’s a lesson that resonates even today.