The Austin Chronicle

Spreading the Word

Six "New' acts for people who appreciate good music

By Jim Caligiuri, August 16, 2002, Music

The South Austin Jug Band

The South Austin Jug Band formed from the ashes of a band local singer-songwriter James Hyland was using to play his songs. When he lost his bass player and drummer, he hooked up with stand-up bassist Will Dupuy and mandolin player Matt Slusher. After an all-night jam session, it "just felt right." Soon after, fiddler Warren Hood, Champ's son, and guitarist Willie Pipkin joined in.

"Now everybody sings and brings songs to the table and we still don't practice," Hyland declares with a laugh.

In June, the Jug Band gained a huge measure of recognition when they won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival New Band Competition. The funny thing about it is they're not really a bluegrass band, and as they are quick to point out, they're not really a jug band either.

Hood claims they take their cue from a band his father helped define, the Threadgill Troubadours. Experiencing a South Austin Jug Band performance, it's easy to hear that influence as they travel from their own fast paced originals to tunes from the songbooks of Bob Wills, Walter Hyatt, and Townes Van Zandt. Their rough-and-tumble nature is infectious, and it gets an equally enthusiastic response from the very vocal audiences at their regular Sunday night gig at Momo's.

There may be one roadblock to the success of the band, however: the upcoming departure of Hood, who's leaving town to attend the Berklee School of Music in the fall. When asked what happens after Hood leaves, Hyland shrugs.

"We don't know," he admits. "We're just gonna feel it out."

Slusher chimes in.

"He sure is gonna be hard to replace."

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