Today, six decades after his first release, folk legend Jim Kweskin announces his new album Never Too Late, out January 26th through StorySound Records. The album features captivating duets with some of his favorite female singers, while simultaneously spotlighting the genre- and generation-hopping nature of Kweskin’s musical interests. Across 18 tracks, Never Too Late suggests a Great American Songbook where Leadbelly’s “Relax Your Mind” precedes the Tin Pan Alley tune “Sheik of Araby,” which leads into 1940’s country hit, “Remember Me.”
To accompany the announcement of Never Too Late, Kweskin shares the bouncy, conversation-like “Let's Get Happy Together” with Maria Muldaur, who first collaborated with him in the 1960s as part of Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band.
Listen to “Let's Get Happy Together” HERE
When discussing the background of the song, Kweskin shares: “I learned this song from Maria Muldaur. We were going to record it together in New Orleans on the album she did with that wonderful New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the session. While I was putting together the songs and singers for this album, I asked Maria if she would record it with me now. She graciously agreed. The song was written and recorded in 1938 by Lil Hardin Armstrong, who, back in the 1920s, was Louis Armstrong's wife. The funny thing is, it's called ‘Let's Get Happy Together,’ but nowhere in the song do we sing ‘Let's get happy together’—we sing ‘Let's be happy together.’ Lil did too but since she titled it ‘Let's Get Happy Together,’ we did the same.”
In addition to Maria Muldaur, Never Too Late features duets with longtime collaborators Samoa Wilson and Meredith Axelrod, who have released full-length albums with Jim Kweskin. Meanwhile, Rose Guerin and Juli Crockett have been frequent performers at his concerts on both the East and West coasts, and Fiona Kweskin, his granddaughter, lends her vocals to several tracks and has been a recent addition to his live shows.
On several tracks, Kweskin also steps aside from lead vocals, allowing his guests to take center stage. Samoa Wilson delivers a soulful rendition of "Honey in the Rock," and Rose Guerin masterfully interprets Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth." In a particularly poignant moment, "The Lone Pilgrim" showcases the stirring voice of Nell Foote, a dear friend of Kweskin who had never ventured into a recording studio before.
Jim Kweskin recorded Never Too Late in early 2023 at Dimension Sound Studios in Jamaica Plain, MA, near his Boston home base. According to Kweskin, “almost every song on Never Too Late was either the first or second take because everyone was so good and prepared.” Joining Kweskin on this album are fiddler Suzy Thompson, dobro & steel guitar player Cindy Cashdollar, harmonicist Annie Raines, and his regular bassist/producer Matthew Berlin.
Jim Kweskin's music career took off in 1963 when Maynard Solomon, Vanguard Records co-founder, saw him play at Club 47 in Cambridge, MA. Suitably impressed, Solomon offered to record Kweskin, leading him to assemble the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, featuring key members Geoff Muldaur and Fritz Richmond. This unconventional group gained fame with their spontaneous and unscripted performances, in contrast to the formal folk groups of the early 60s. Despite only lasting five years and releasing four studio albums, they left an enduring impact on the music scene. Esteemed critic Ed Ward ranked them among the most important bands of the early 60s, and their influence can be seen in the likes of the Lovin' Spoonful, the Grateful Dead, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.
To celebrate the release of Never Too Late, The Jim Kweskin Extravaganza will take place at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA on February 4, 2024. Find more details here.
Pre-Order Never Too Late HERE
Never Too Late Tracklist
Let’s Get Happy Together - with Maria Muldaur
You’re Just In Love - with Fiona Kweskin
Honey In The Rock - with Samoa Wilson
Mother Earth - with Rose Guerin & Group
Leaving Home (Frankie and Johnny) - with Meredith Axelrod
Side By Side - with Fiona Kweskin
Sally Don’t You Grieve - with Meredith Axelrod
Never Too Late - with Juli Crockett
Engine 143 - with Samoa Wilson
The Lone Pilgrim - with Nell Foote & Group Choir
Moby Dick - with Juli Crockett
Relax Your Mind - with Rose Guerin
The Sheik Of Araby - with Maria Muldaur
Remember Me - with Samoa Wilson
What Does The Deep Sea Say - with Fiona Kweskin
Live And Let Live - with Juli Crockett
I Ain’t Never Been Satisfied - with Rose, Samoa, & Fiona
The Cuckoo - with Jessie Benton