The fun merchants have landed
by Will Gottlieb
Coastal Journal staff
Jug bands are by definition instrumental ensembles built around the sound of someone blowing across the neck of a jug. On Half Moon Jug Band’s new “Get the Show on the Road” CD, the jug sound itself is implied rather than included or featured, or perhaps a jug or two (or six or twelve) of Pemaquid Ale were emptied in the process of making this thing — we don’t know. Perhaps no one associated with HMJB has ever even seen an alcoholic beverage, but in any event, they do not appear to be hobbled by sobriety.
Basically, what we’ve got here is Fun with a capital “F,” a party album that is true to the region and the times, that reminds me a lot of Brave Combo: a multi-instrumental rock ’n roll casserole topped with mandolins, slide guitars and a dash of folkie musicality. (Not “Cum By Ya,” exactly, but sufficiently acoustic and rootsy to justify the appellation.)
The HMJB lineup includes Troy R. Bennett (vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and various other instruments & objects); Mike Petruk (vocals, drums, congas); and Stephen Brewer (vocals, bass, sax, kazoo); Glen Bolduc on vocals, trumpet and mandolin, and Carter Ruff on vocals and slide guitar.
These guys are tight; these guys are noisy; these guys are entertaining. “Get the Show on the Road” is big, hairy, punchy fun, and you’re going to love it.
A few of the tunes on this CD represent topical explorations of Things Musical, particularly “Get the Show on the Road” (a high-energy rave ala Brave Combo), and “Jug Band Music” (self explanatory, declarative, definitive). Then there’s “Kill Your Television,” which is sort of a public service soundbyte that includes some thoughtful and very catchy lyrics (“The boob tube must die, die-d-d-die, d-d-die-d-die-d-die”). It’s even got a ballad, Troy R. Bennett’s own “The Fryeburg Fair,” a romantic rocker with just enough multi-instrumental eccentricity to make it on this album.
The other theme on this CD is, ah, romance…as in, boy meets girl (“Eventually,” “The Fryeburg Fair”), boy loses girl (“Firecracker”), boy gets girl but then realizes she’s got a fish’s butt (“The Mermaid”), and so on. It’s even got a few traditional tunes on it, including an over-the-top jug band/polka version of “This Land is Your Land” (listed on the liner notes as having been written “by Woody friggin’ Guthrie!”).
In short, this is The Stuff.
We taped a Christmas segment for WCSH’s 207 show a week or two back to promote our big show at the Waldo Theatre on the 19th. They say it’s going to air on Dec. 11th. That might change, though. We’ll keep you posted and we’ll post it here if you miss it on the tube.