South Austin Jug Band

South Austin Jug Band

ACL Fest Record Reviews

South Austin Jug Band

If you're gonna play acoustic neo-bluegrass, you better have some good wood to swing when you step up to the plate. The South Austin Jug Band certainly meets that requirement (and no, there's no jug anywhere in the band), with chops aplenty and some darn good songs under their belts. It takes guts for an all-acoustic lineup to take on Hendrix, but SAJB does on "Little Wing," then quotes the guitar deity again on "Ramen Noodle Rag." Matt Slusher flat tears it up on mandolin, though none of the other guys are slouches on their respective instruments (producer Lloyd Maines sits in on Dobro as well). What's especially gratifying about SAJB is that they never turn into an acoustic jam band ã la Nickel Creek, instead keeping their songs concise and their solos short and to the point. Even the songs that stretch out never seem to drag on, trading on spirited playing, and in the case of "The Ballad of Eddie Mullet," a great tragicomic storyline. Best about this CD is the relaxed, back-porch sound. It's all very down to earth and full of blue-collar authenticity ("Motor City Man"), with some blistering instrumental work, tight harmonies, and well-considered songwriting. God bless South Austin, and God bless the South Austin Jug Band. (Saturday, 12:15pm, Heineken stage)

****

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