Music at the Mansion
Juggernaut Jug Band keeps
the audience in on the fun
The Louisville-based group has
been together for 53 years
Music at the Mansion
• 7 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at Lanier Mansion
601 W. First St.,
• (812) 273-0556
(July 2018) – Jug Bands just want to have fun.
That is especially true for the members of the Juggernaut Jug Band, which is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the “Music at the Mansion” summer concert series on the North Lawn of the Lanier Mansion in Madison, Ind.
“There is no point in doing this if you are not having fun,” said unofficial band spokesperson Roscoe Goose. “We are having a ball, man.”
Roscoe Goose is his stage name. Easy Mark, Hooey Bee and D Man are the other stage names of the band members. They do not like to divulge their real names when working as the Juggernaut Jug Band. They are very focused on sharing the fun with their audience.
“When an audience sees you having fun, it’s usually contagious,” Goose continued. “Most of the time they have fun as well.”
Juggernaut Jug Band has been in existence for 53 years. Goose was 15 when he joined.
“It was in the folk craze,” Goose said. “The limelighters and new Christy Minstrels created a heightened awareness during the folk craze.”
Jug band music started when the Sarah Martin Clifford Hayes Jug Band recorded a tune in 1924 that was nationally distributed. At some point after that, Louisville Ky., became known as the center of jug band music.
Memphis jug bands wanted to be like the ones in Louisville.
The notes on the back of a 1960s Folkways Album quoted Samuel Charters saying Louisville was the birthplace because this is the first time the music was heard outside of Louisville. The notes were part of the Smithsonian collection.
There is a more recent book also making a study of that claim, “Louisville Jug Band Music,” by Michael L. Jones, published in 2014.
Photo by John Sheckler
The Louisville-based Juggernaut Jug Band includes (from left) Easy Mark, Hooey Bee, D Man and Roscoe Goose.
The back page of the book features a Jug Band Jubilee in the Derby City. It says: “Forged on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during the 19th century, jug band music was the heart of it all. German and Irish immigrants, former slaves in route to Chicago and homesteaders moving into the city created a fertile ground for this new sound.”
Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
The Juggernaut Jug Band members want to replicate the early days of the genre as a preservation project. The band enjoyed a period of notoriety when folk music was at its height of popularity.
Highlights of those early folk years include playing for Prince Charles and Camilla on their visit to Louisville, where the Prince played spoons with the band.
They also enjoyed a gig at Lake Chautauqua in New York state and were filmed by a Japanese film crew for a show on public television in Japan.
This will be their second year to perform at the Lanier “Music at the Mansion” summer concert series.
“Years ago, we played at the Broadway Fountain during the early days of the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival,” Goose added. “I love Madison. The town has flourished. It is so beautiful and is one of the most charming river towns on the Ohio.”
The band works hard. They practice twice each week. “We have a dedicated basement in one of the band member homes,” said Goose. “It is an old ’70s band members jug band heaven.”
It is not all work and no play at practice. The smell of barbecue drifts into the room from the kitchen above as the band works to decide which songs need to be practiced.
In the early days, the band traded some old horseshoes for some U.S. Army big spoons. They were used on one of the band’s first songs, “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey.”
Goose is the percussionist for the band, playing an elaborate washboard rig attached to a five-foot stepladder. It has a wild assortment of bells and horns that he can clang as he plays along.
Goose used to wear the washboard on his hip but needed back surgery, so he found the ladder and cut it down to fit his needs.
“It is really beat up,” said Goose. “It has a lot of miles on it.”
Goose is the de facto front guy and lead singer for the band, but they all share the singing equally.
“The band is a coop band. We all have equal say,” Goose added. “Whoever has the best idea, we go with it, and we have a lot of fun.”
The folks at the Indiana State Museum System like the jug band music.
“One of our biggest strengths is the ability to connect our communities through shared experiences,” said Jessica Stavros, southeastern regional manager for the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, which oversees the Lanier Mansion. “Especially the experiences that help develop our sense of place. Since music is one of the most engaging ways to bring people together, we knew that an exciting, dynamic group like the Juggernaut Jug Band was an ideal fit.”
Like the museum system, the Juggernaut Jug Band has an interest in history.
“We are really proud of our history,” said Goose. “We traveled the U.S. on allied concert tours and arts organizations playing our style of jug band music all over the country.”
Now, they are working to develop a show that is fun and family friendly.
“It is not a great market,” Goose said. “If you want to make a living, you have to work a lot.”
That means some changes in the act.
“We are characters on stage – to entertain folks with a sense of humor,” Goose said. “What we are focused on is getting club dates as part of our development to keep honing our show.”
“The Music at the Mansion summer concert series has proven to be a gathering place where the people of Madison can experience all Lanier has to offer,” said Stavros. “Whether taking in the historic scenery or enjoying the concert from the lawn, the Lanier Mansion experience reminds people of the great Ohio River traditions of music and merriment, making this site the perfect place for this type of engaging programming.”
“I learned a long time ago if you don’t talk to your audience about where the music comes from, what makes it unique, perhaps some historical facts that make it significant, they may have a hard time relating to it,” Goose added. “You have to invite them in on what you’re doing.”
You hope it’s humorous and as entertaining as the music you play. I am having a ball. We are all having a great time.”
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