Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dan Livingstone and the Griffintown Jug Addicts

Dan Livingstone and the Griffintown Jug Addicts

Dan Livingstone and the Griffintown Jug Addicts take their inspiration from the original jug bands that played and recorded around Memphis in the 1920s and ‘30s, and 1960s revival groups Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band.

The Montreal-based group which gelled playing weekly gigs at the Griffintown Café are a lot fun to listen to with their juggy interpretations of classics drawn (mostly) from the delta and Piedmont blues traditions.

Dan Livingstone sings with appropriate bluster and he’s an accomplished guitar player – whether running a slide up and down the neck on Mississippi Fred McDowell tunes or picking out the intricate finger-style patterns on tunes by Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis, Merle Travis and John Fahey (who I used to bring to Montreal to play at the Golem in the 1970s and ‘80s).

Livingstone gets solid support from Jug Addicts Julia Narveson on washtub bass and Brad Levia on washboard – both of whom also played with the sadly disbanded Lake of Stew – and Colin Perry, known for his work leading the blues band Blind, on lead guitar and tenor banjo.

Among the highlights are bouncy versions of Blake’s “Chump Man Blues,” Fuller’s “Rag, Mama, Rag” (which should not be confused with The Band’s similarly-named song) and Fahey’s “Last Steam Engine Train,” the only instrumental.

Another is a perfectly campy version of Travis’ “I Like My Chicken Frying Size,” featuring Dom Desjardins on tenor banjo and Jérome Dupuis-Cloutier on trumpet added to the band.

At just nine songs and 35 minutes, the CD is over much too fast. I hope to hear more from them sooner than later.

--Mike Regenstreif

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