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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