South Austin Jug Band

Dark and Weary World (Blue Corn)

ACL Music Festival Reviews

South Austin Jug Band

Dark and Weary World (Blue Corn)

In the time between their first album and the new Dark and Weary World, the South Austin Jug Band has been through a whirlwind. Lineup changes, nonstop roadwork, and across-the-board acclaim might affect some bands in uncomplimentary ways, but the experience has made SAJB substantially better. They're better pickers, better songwriters, and they have become thoroughly original as an ensemble. Dark and Weary World does a superb job of characterizing the upgrade, every note imbued with confidence and enthusiasm that the youthful quintet was incapable of not that long ago. While the jamming and bluegrass sides of the band have become more prominent, they still keep it chicken-fried. Original tunes like "Coonass," with its backwoods humor, and "Karma," with its sly wordplay, fit in agreeably with a good-natured rendition of Bruce Robison's "She Don't Care About Me" and a couple of unrestrained instrumentals that give an idea just how good they've become as musicians. They all contribute, but vocalist/guitarist James Hyland demonstrates the most progress as a tunesmith with his sweet and easy "Weather on the Wood" standing out. In the end, SAJB remains true to their beginnings, taking acoustic music from Texas and beyond and making it into something they can proudly call their own. (Saturday, 12:40pm, BMI stage)

***

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