Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jug Band Without A Jug

In 1991, during a period of being infatuated with Cannon's Jug Stompers, I decided that I would form a jug band of my own, to be called Holland's Jug Stompers. However, since I'm livin' on Creeps Time, necessity dictated that I take the next few years to properly formulate my thoughts, and to be distracted by such things as cinnamon rolls, comic books, chicken legs, women's legs... you know, all the important things in life.

But sooner or later, for better or for worse, all my half-baked ideas come to fruition - even the ones that should have just stayed a half-baked idea. And so it was, then, that at the other end of that decade, I found myself finally donning a western jacket and announcing that the long-heralded Holland's Jug Stompers was finally receiving the jolt of electricity that would bring it to shambling life.

High concept was everything. "We're a jug band because I say we're a jug band, now let's get out there." Of the many shows we performed, I recall actually rehearsing only once. Sometimes I would explain a song's structure to the band just before we went on, but more often we'd go out there with zero preparation.

You would think a band operating under such conditions would really suck, but you know what? Well, yeah, it's true, we did suck. But in so sucking, we altered the path of the spacetime continuum, and invoked all kinds of 1920s-era demons that still linger around the brim of my hat to this very day, and maybe yours as well. Sorry about that.

Many different guests sat in with the band from time to time at Berea's Cardinal Deli, but the core was the usual triumvirate of Holland, Dockery and Manley. However, the real backbone of the band's best lineup was a guy named Paul Morris. He played trumpet and gave us sorely-needed jazz cred. Our jug-band cred was already shot since we had no jug; but then again, neither did Clifford Hayes.

A few of these shows were videotaped by my ex-wife, whereabouts unknown, but a handful of RealAudio files were created off the audio portions of said videotapes. And now, in the 21st century idiocracy we find ourselves stuck in, those RA files have become mp3s, and the mp3s have become youtube videos. Keep watching the Transylvania Colony channel, as more HJS tunes will appear there in the days and weeks to come.

Meanwhile, check out the first offering, "Rainstorm Creeps", if you're strong of stomach and stout of sternum. And remember: awful as it is, it was even worse to have actually been there in the room with it. Count your blessings, young Jedi.

This particular cut was improvised spontaneously during a thunderstorm, and the lightning and roar coming from outside added a certain Dark Shadows/Hammer horror ambience to the evening.

Although it's hard to make out thru the low-fidelity haze, I'm playing a Gibson-copy hollowbody without amplification, plucking out a quiet boogie-woogie bass line as Pete Hrabak blows up a storm of kazoo wizardry. Manley takes a barely-audible but savage mandolin solo, and as usual, Paul carries the whole damn thing with his trumpet artistry. Some of the Erroll Garner-ish grunts and gutteral noises in the background are coming from Mr. J. Todd Dockery on drums, percussion, and ham sandwich.

Will there be a Holland's Jug Stompers reunion someday? Oh, probably. Sorry about that in advance too.

- - JSH

1 comment:

J.T. Dockery said...

What I recall mostly from the brief Holland's Jug Stompers perid are two things. One, sitting in on mandolin instead of percussion/drums, a guy asked, "I didn't know you played mandolin," to which I replied, "I don't." Second, I remember someone asking us after a performance, weary of the HJS magic, just when we were going to go back to doing Cheeseburger & Fries again. Third, unofficially, 'cause I don't know if it was after a HJS show or a CH/FR show, I recall Manley carrying his mandolin in the back parkling lot and falling to the ground due to perhaps having had a bit too much to drink, and without misssing a beat, Mr. Holland and I rallied around him as if we were all rocking out, instantly and unspokenly re-creating the anecdote that when Ace Frehely would drunkenly stumble in his paltform heels, Simmons/Stanley would gather around him as if he'd fallen from rocking out too hard and make it all part of the show. If I hadn't found Allah and given up pork, I could go for a Cardinal Deli ham sandwich right about now.