Category Archives: Hillbilly Blues

Reviving Jugbands with the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir

They loved the blues, but hated its popular, generic practitioners. It was the motivating factor for the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir.

Pure Blues Roots as we all like it

The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir brings some of the purest roots music around. Sometimes you have the luck to find one of these bands in your lokal Juke Joint or maybe out in the street and you get blown away. It is the connection of instruments and the groove of a song that sounds like a jam. That’s what happens with the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir.  

I once had the honor to meet the Hackensaw Boys, who are comparable to the Canadian musicians of the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, but bring their songs a bit more bluegrass style. The AMGC bring the roots like the jug bands earlier did in Memphis . The video below gives a nice impression how that sounds.

Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir – Oh Sorrow

Pre WW II Blues and County

The AMGC’s raucous, firebrand interpretations of pre-WW II acoustic blues and country struck a chord with Calgarian audiences, they write on their own website. The roots crowd liked them for their reverence for the musical sources minus the obvious cliches of many modern interpreters. But rock audiences ate up their sets, too.

Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir Inspiration

The Agnostics managed to translate and amplify the energy of early Skip James and Son House, transcending the lo-fidelity of a scratchy 78, and reminding young listeners why this music mutated into rock’n’roll.

The Agnostics were compared to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart which was a blessing and a curse. The band, while admittedly fans, knew those guys got their influences from the same places; namely the Howlin’ Wolf/Charlie Patton lineage. But they were a couple of white guys who shaped the blues in their own unique fashion, hence they were inevitable inspirations.

Dumb It Down and Oh Sorrow

Songs like ‘Dumb It Down’, show the inspiration of Son House and Lightning Hopkins. A song like ‘Saint Hubert’  has a whole lot of more Jug Band feeling, maybe because of the low vocals, and the bombastic sounds. ‘ Oh Sorrow’  brings the country blues feeling through the boxes, this song is perfect during a session of drinking beer. The Banjo is slow, the vocals howl, the beat brings you back to the cotton fields of Mississippi.

Since 2013, the group reunites after receiving several offers to play in Europe. The tour is successful. At the same time there is a rising interest in their CDs from all parts of the globe. Are there plans for future activites? Stay tuned.

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Great modern Country Blues: Mr Hokum’s Gondola Blues

Great modern Country Blues: Mr Hokum’s Gondola Blues

I’m looking forward seeing Mr. Hokum perform his country and piedmont blues live on stage in my local bar café De Bel. I expect the tapping on the tables would begin after a few seconds while we would listen to songs like ‘Steam Engine Train’ and ‘Frankie’. Waking up this morning with Mr Hokum’s the ‘Gondola Blues’ and ‘Blake’s Rag’ I had an impression of the work of this New Orleans musician in a few minutes. It was enough to just kept listening all day.

Finger-style Country blues guitarist

Jason Lawrence from New Orleans is also known as Mr Hokum a finger-style country blues guitarist you might also know as a member of bands like The Hokum High Rollers or The Loose Marbles. Gondola Blues is the first solo album of Lawrence. I absolute recommend listening to this album. Find it here..

Mr. Hokum will remind you of Blind Blake, Blind Willie Mc Tell, Mississippi John Hurt and Jesse and Bind Boy Fuller. It is the Folk, the Ragtime, The Country blues that run through Mr Hokum and his music. The music is digging deeper, it digs good.

The Hokum High Rollers

Credit Feature photo: Original picture Mr. Hokum. Credits to Mr. Hokum and phothographer of the picture.

With the Hokum High Rollers you will discover a more Jazzy, Swinging and Western style of blues music. Here and there you will find the Cajun and Bluegrass inspiration of this band. The High Rollers explain their history easily: “Hokum’ has been honing there craft on the streets of the French Quarter to smoky bars, festival stage, private events, vaudeville showcases and everything in between since 2011”

Continue reading Great modern Country Blues: Mr Hokum’s Gondola Blues

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The Drunken Catfish Ramblers make Jug Bands revive

The Drunken Catfish Ramblers make Jug Bands revive

The Drunken Catfish Ramblers are, at their core, a street band, like the Jug Bands did a hundred years ago, they take us back to the roaring 1920s of Memphis and New Orleans with their folklore blues and ragtime music. They welcome us to the party they created by using a mix of instruments like the Kazoo, the Banjo, the Tuba, The mandolin several guitars and a washboard. It is nice to listen to the Blues of Drunken Catfish Ramblers’.

Playing Blues in the streets

Although young in years, they have a lifetime of collective experience playing the streets of the world they tell us. While the street is their favourite stage, we should not forget to mention the stages they performed on like the Montreal and New Orleans Jazz Fests, Merlefest, Brooklyn Folk Festival and more

The Drunken Catfish Ramblers blues and ragtime revival

The Drunken Catfish Ramblers_BKHagar_- credit bandpage blues music
The Drunken Catfish Ramblers – Credit BKHagar bandpage

These Ramblers started years ago as a freight-hopping bunch of travelers swapping songs, bottles and stories as they made their way east from California. But New Orleans was destined to play host to their signature sound. They are an example how old days revive. The blues from Mississippi spread in a similar way throughout the country and over the world. Son House, Muddy Waters and Big Joe Williams all been on that road and like the new cats they enjoyed playing music as much as we do.

The Drunken Catfish Ramblers play music in a wide genre from delta blues to hillbilly jazz with one thing in common; it is al vernacular music. Songs everyone should listen “Dangerous Blues” and the “Jug Band Waltz”.

Musicians of the Drunken Catfish Ramblers

Behind the Drunken Catfish Ramblers are Greg Sherman and “Stalebread” Scottie Swears on Guitar. Backed by the hypnotic drive of R.C.’s Hampton’s washboard and the jug-based style of Robert Ayo’s tuba. Mr. Gunn’s accompaniment provides solid counterpoint, ragging and syncopating the lines with uncommon ease or laying down the melody line with uncanny accuracy.

This band is a joy for every bar around the world, celebrating the blues and ragtime music of the Drunken Catfish Ramblers.

If you like them follow them here.

Downtown Blues performed by The Drunken Catfish Ramblers


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Revival of the Delta Country Blues Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band

Revival of the Delta Country Blues Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band

Rev Payton Black Bull Blues music
During the 30s and 40 the Blues sound we all know was a result of the lack of electricity Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson just had their acoustic guitar, drums and maybe a washboard, Son House had it too. It was the blues with a feeling, right from the soul. These days the early clean blues sound of Patton and Johnson returns a lot because of  modern Hillbilly, Bluegrass and Country Blues bands.  Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is one of them. These Indiana musicians make it easy for us: clean blues music combined with Hillbilly rhythm.

How Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band does it? Well that’s easy, these guys are roaring out of the southern Indiana Foothills playing a brand of Americana and Blues that stands alone. Put two ’30s National guitars, a cigar box guitar, a custom shop Gibson flattop 1929 L2 and an Airline map electric guitar together with a great speachin’ voice.

Rev Payton’s band and ethic

The Rev. J. Peyton, his wife Breezy and Ben “Bird Dog” Bussell are a living breathing embodiment of the traditions and hard work ethic native to their Brown County, Indiana home. The growl of a good truck engine, the fiercest passion for his country home and family and an uncanny ability to breathe new life into old forms of music give them a pedigree many Americana acts would kill for.

Reverend Payton’s Album Release

Rev Payton released eight albums over the years. The Pork and Beans Collection their first album is a delta kind of Blues album with as we can expect a Hillbilly flavour. Over the years Rev Payton electrified a little bit, it doesn’t change the style, feeling, attitude and sound of their music. Rev Payton stays  a musician you will like to listen to while sitting in your car, on the grass or at the bar. It is drinkin’ music while tapping your shoe on the floor. Their latest album is from 2012 called between the Ditches, listen to Devils Look Like Angels especially!

For Blues fans Peyton on Patton is a must listen, an exclusive album full of Charlie Patton Covers. As a real musician should be, Peyton´s Big Damn Band put their own flavour on top of Patton´s songs.

Modern revival of the Blues Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band

Reverend Payton’s Big Damn band is one of the bands that contribute to the revival of early twentieth century music we all love. It is great to see musicians who bring songs with soul and put a honest feeling back into music. A big stage or the backyard, for Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band is doesn’t matter playing music is pure god damn fun, and that is what you hear.

Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band Spotify

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – The Money Goes

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Don’t Grind It Down

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – I Don’t Know

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Shake ’em Off Like Fleas

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Pokey LaFarge No retro music. American music that never died

Pokey LaFarge no retro music. American music that never died

Pokey LaFarge 2012 Reutlingen Photo by GuyFrancis
Pokey LaFarge 2012 Reutlingen Photo by GuyFrancis

We’re going back to the thirties of the twentieth century when Robert Johnson was still alive. Son House performed over the southern states and Muddy Waters was still working at the Stovall Plantation in Mississippi. Blues has always been there, even now musicians cross the road of the blues scene. One of the musician we caught playing traditional roots music nowadays is Pokey LaFarge, a thirty year old bluesman. Continue reading Pokey LaFarge No retro music. American music that never died

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Blues music from Germany: Juke Joint Pimps

Blues music from Germany: Juke Joint Pimps

Photo Marion Post Wolcott (1910–1990 FSA JukeJoint
Photo Marion Post Wolcott (1910–1990 FSA JukeJoint

In some way we all want to go back to the days the juke joints were full of people. blues, rock n roll and soul was the music everybody listened to. The pubs were dark, full of smoke and moonshine whiskey. We dream about the days the blues started in Mississippi a while before Chicago became it’s renewed capital and the blues revival was just a strange term.

Juke Joint Pimps

Today most of the artist everybody admired ain´t here no more. We got a new generation of musician in the United States but also a lot in Europe. A band I recently crossed during a night of blues were the Juke Joint Pimps, a two man band from the Koln area in Germany.

Chicago, Delta, Swamp, Hillbilly Blues

T-Man and Mighty Mike rock since 2003 the through Europe with a mix of Chicago, Delta Swamp and Hillbilly Blues. Songs of the Juke Joint Pimps are, as it should be energetic with groovy guitar, swinging harmonica and steady beats. The Juke Joint Pimps are easy to listen to.

Over the years these guys performed in over a dozen countries. Their latest album “Boogie the Church Down” was released in 2011.

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