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"The kings of 100% acoustic folk-skiffle-swing holiday highjinks"

The Christmas Jug Band Media Kit:

The CJB Story

CJB circa 1997.
Photo by Barbara Keller

The Christmas Jug Band Story - A momentary lapse of sanity that became an annual holiday tradition spanning over 40 years.

A small group of pals living in Mill Valley, California, in the mid 70s with a penchant for Kentucky bourbon formed Monday Night Wild Turkey Jug Band. From Yellow Springs, Ohio, Gregory Leroy "Duke Dagreeze" Dewey (Mad River, County Joe & the Fish, Marty Balin), his brother - Nicholas Q (Not Joe) Dewey, and their partner in "The Reptile Brothers Band," Tim Eschliman (Commander Cody, Etta James) started the weekly Appalachian-style jug jams with the Deweys' roommate, Paul Wenninger (from Chicago, road manager for Van Morrison, Dan Hicks).

Spur-of-the-moment street corner appearances, instigated by Dan Hicks (Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks) around the same time also had a jug band instrumentation and included many of the same musicians. The Monday Night Wild Turkey sessions lasted only 10 weeks, but had many guests stopping by, including Hicks; L. D. Armstrong (Rowdy and the Rivets), Austin de Lone (Eggs Over Easy, Commander Cody), and other local musicians mostly from the Old Mill Tavern music scene.

The jug-jam sessions were about creating new tunes, new lyrics, or just new grooves with an acoustic, backwoods, jug sound. A harmonica, old arch top f-hole type guitars, a jaw harp, a washboard, a washtub bass and even coat-hangers banged on the edge of the old wooden kitchen table became the desired sounds of the group. To preserve the creative spontaneity, cover songs were generally forbidden and to maintain the funky, down-in-the-holler home-made instrument kind of sound, pianos, professional-sounding dread-naught sized guitars and any other instruments deemed "too-good-sounding" were discouraged. Carbon-date testing of left over Kentucky bourbon decanters from those sessions point to the year 1976.

In late 1977, Dan Hicks, host of the infamous "Monday Night Open Mike" sessions at the Old Mill Tavern, was needed for a recording gig in Los Angeles. His jug-headed cohorts, regular entrants to the Open Mike, covered for him and hosted the event on December 19, 1977. Billed as "The Three Wise Men +4 -1 Jug Band," this early cast of characters laid down their first holiday set of irreverent tunes. The owner of The Old Mill then suggested the band do a Christmas Eve gig. That show, which included Mr. Hicks, started the annual jug band holiday performances.

Many original holiday numbers, parodies of unlikely classics, and raucous jugbandizations of seasonal favorites were added to the band's song list and in 1987 Globe Records released the band's first album, "MISTLETOE JAM" (on green vinyl) and the group officially became "The Christmas Jug Band."

"Mistletoe Jam" was released on CD by Relix Records the following year and the tune "Somebody Stole My Santa Claus Suit" was selected as the lead-off track for the Rhino Records dark-side-of-season alternative compilation, "Bummed Out Christmas." With the momentum of that album (dubbed by some as "clearly the alternative Christmas record of the year" with "holiday songs sure to become dearly-beloved seasonal classics") demand for performances of Christmas Jug Band and their holiday "blues-busting" shows grew. A tradition was established and that momentary lapse of insanity is now a holiday mindset. In 2005 TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX licensed the "Twas The Night Before Christmas" from this album for music in their "White Lie Christmas," My Name Is Earl Episode, Season 1. (See also IMDB listing). In 2012 PHILTER of Japan licensed "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" from this album for their "Jukebox Christmas" release.

By 2019 they had pushed through the 27,000 albums sold ... quite a lot for an independent narrow-niche campaign. Some other albums of note:

The wild animal in its natural habitat! Live recording from December of 2018 in the Village where it all began... Mill Valley, California. ...deep in the snow drifts of the "West Pole". The kings of 100% acoustic folk-skiffle-swing holiday highjinks deliver their first album of all new material since 2009 continuing their penchant for original holiday raucous jugbandizations and parodies of unlikely classics. This is an album full of Holiday, Jug Band, Skiffle, Blues, Novelty, Humor, R&B, Cajun/Zydeco & Vintage Jazz elements recorded live at Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley, CA December 20, 2018 and mastered by George Horn and Anne-Marie Suenram. Features Gregory Leroy "Duke" Dewey (Mad River, Country Joe & the Fish), Tim Eschliman (Etta James, Commander Cody, Rhythmtown-Jive), Austin deLone (Elvis Costello, Fabulous Thunderbirds), Ken "Turtle" Vandermarr, Paul Rogers (Those Darn Accordions), Blake Richardson, Ken "Snakebite" Jacobs (Kinky Friedman). Manufactured in the USA. Recyclable packaging.

2014 brought the 6th album, "JUGOLOGY - Greatest Near-Misses (Best Of...)":
Best of previously released titles including the perennial-hit "Santa Lost A Ho," plus bonus tracks of unreleased material. Celebrating 38 years of Holidays for the CJB, this release spans recordings from 1986-2009, from the albums, "Mistletoe Jam," "Treeside Hoot," "Rhythm On The Roof," "Uncorked," (engineered by Fred Catero) and "On The Holiday Highway". First ever "best of" release for the band. "It's a tongue-in-cheek, festive convergence of San Francisco Bay Area luminaries & stalwart purveyors of the jugabilly mystique!" ... "The kings of 100% acoustic folk-skiffle-swing holiday highjinks..." Performed on washboard, drums, guitars, percussion, kazoos, slide whistles, jaw harp, washtub bass, jug, accordions, autoharp, harmonica, piano, tenor sax, soprano sax, alto sax, baritone sax, clarinet, chromatic harmonica, recorder, trumpet, and mandolin with Special Guests, Norton Buffalo, Angela Strehli and Maria Muldaur. Manufactured in the USA. Recyclable packaging.

The Christmas Jug Band's 2009 release "ON THE HOLIDAY HIGHWAY" features special guests: Country Joe McDonald, Norton Buffalo, Mike Duke and Dan Hicks' Lickettes. Recorded live across 7 shows at 4 locations in Northern California, between 2006 and 2008: The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley, CA; Paradise Performing Arts Center, Paradise, CA; Masonic Hall, Mill Valley, CA; Sweetwater Station, Larkspur, CA ..Just under 73 minutes of sheer live CJB insanity! The foremost purveyors of Seasonal Skiffle-Swing and Jugabilly-Infused Revelry.

The Christmas Jug Band release "UNCORKED" (2002) was engineered by FRED CATERO (Pointer Sisters, Santana, Barbra Streisand's "People," Sly & the Family Stone, Big Brother & The Holding Co.'s "Cheap Thrills") and ARJAN MCNAMARA, who know the idiosyncrasies of capturing acoustic eccentricities better than anyone and features the irreverent crew of DAN HICKS, AUSTIN DELONE, TIM ESCHLIMAN, PAUL ROGERS, JIM ROTHERMEL, LANCE DICKERSON, and BLAKE RICHARDSON. Also featured on the CD are original jug band founding members, NICK DEWEY (Bodacious, Rowdy & the Rivets), GREG "DUKE" DEWEY, and PAUL WENNINGER (washtub virtuoso); and special guest appearances by NORTON BUFFALO (doing the Marx Brothers classic "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas"), Texas blues master ANGELA STREHLI, Bay Area favorite, MARIA MULDAUR (both featured on "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus"), and the powerhouse soul-gospel of MIKE DUKE (Wet Willy, Delbert McClinton), recapping the classic lawsuit-threatened Huey "Piano" Smith arrangement of "Silent Night." The talent roster is topped off with Dan Hick's vocal back-up quartet "THE FABULOUS OPINIONS" which consists of Eggs Over Easy's BRIEN HOPKINS, AUSTIN DELONE and JAY DAVID plus TIM ESCHILMAN. In 2004 SONY/BMG licensed the "Santa's Workshop" from this album as part of the Restoration Hardware complation CD, "Country Christmas." In 2007 Germany's oldest independent label, TRIKONT, licensed the song, "That's His Red Wagon", from the CJB release "RHYTHM ON THE ROOF" as part of their "Wish You... Best Christmas Eve" compilation CD release. In 2009 the PUTUMAYO record label released "A Family Christmas" which features "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" from this Uncorked CD.

Media contact: Tim Eschliman at (877) 456-2301

Christmas Jug Band online press kit and review posting available here

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