October 1998
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Gutbucket
Where's the Man With the Jive?
(Shangri-La/Sugarditch)

This is a 7" EP I picked up at the last Squirrel Nut Zippers show I went to. This band was the first opener, and I was blown away, as was the rest of the crowd.

That's because they're a jug band.

The instrumentation of a jug band, kids, is not all jugs. In fact, the jug was only brought out for a couple of songs. Gutbucket features Cody Dickinson (a real cutie) on washboard, jug, acoustic guitar, and vocals; Paul Taylor (who seems to be quite the wee lad) on washtub bass and kazoo; and the very talented Luther Dickinson on resonator guitar, mandolin, and vocals. Also joining the band for the live show was Jimbo Mathus, of SNZ (Gutbucket helped him out with his solo project, Jas. Mathus' Knockdown Society about a year ago).

While kids in Cleveland have musical heratige that goes back as far as...oh... Michael Stanley...kids in the Mississippi Delta have the deepest roots of music at their disposal, Delta Blues and various forms of jug bands and dixieland. Brave are they who try to take this music on the road, play in the same clubs as snotty rock and rollers, and keep the crowd's attention.

All four songs on this EP are covers, and I must admit that I am not sure if they are by jug band legends or what. Sorry, I'm a northerner, I know not jug band music. But I DO know what's innovative...or, retro. Keeping alive the music of early America (not that orchestral and chamber crap the Puritans brought over from England) is truly a great feat, and these musicians put a lot of effort into it.

There is nothing more bare and simple than a man playing a washboard, I'd say. You can't deny giving these guys credit for diving so deep into their musical heratige that you can almost garuntee they will never be on the radio. The record sleeve notes that the album was "Recorded....in Luther's room, Hernando, Mississippi.

Of the record's four songs, "Whitewash Station" was the catchiest, utilizing the jug and kazoo....probably because it's a song about a jug band. "Po' Boy Along Way From Home" was bluesy, and sung with a moan only a po' boy can make. "Where's The Man With the Jive?" the EP's title track (??) is catchy as well, while "I'm Going Away Blues" is your basic jugband blues (?!?!?!).

I got a chance to talk to Cody a little after the show, as the band packed their washtub bass, jug, and mandolin into the trunk of their "tour bus" (aka a nice family car), and he seemed very excited to be doing what he was doing, travelling with the Zippers and bringing the music of Gutbucket up past the Mason-Dixon (although, Cincy is not much past...). When I told him that The Shrubbery would help promote Gutbucket in any way we can, he was doubly giddy. So I urge y'all to check this band out. You can write to the record's distributor,
Shangri-La Records
1916 Madison Ave.
Memphis TN 38104
Or call: (901)274-1916
or e-mail:andria@shangri.com

I give these boys a big phat

[A]

for effort!

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