Jim Kweskin, Eli Smith

Jim Kweskin

Jim Kweskin created one of the bedrock guitar styles of the folk revival, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Blind Boy Fuller to the more complex chords of pop and jazz.

He is most notable as the founder of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, also known as Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, with Fritz Richmond, Geoff Muldaur, Bob Siggins and Bruno Wolfe. They were active in Boston in the 1960s. Maria D'Amato, known after her marriage to Geoff Muldaur as Maria Muldaur, formerly with the Even Dozen Jug Band, joined the band in 1963. During the five years they were together, the jugband successfully modernized the sounds of pre–World War II rural music. Kweskin released six albums and two greatest hits compilations on Vanguard Records between 1963 and 1970; Jim Kweskin's America on Reprise Records in 1971; and four albums on Mountain Railroad Records between 1978 and 1987. Kweskin is probably best known as a singer and bandleader, but he is also known for his guitar stylings, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Blind Boy Fuller and Mississippi John Hurt, while incorporating more sophisticated jazz and blues stylings into the mix. In 2013, the band held a reunion tour that included Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Richard Greene, Bill Keith, Cindy Cashdollar and Sam Bevan, most of whom were amongst its original members.

He has maintained a remarkably consistent musical vision since his jug band days, continuing to explore traditional folk and blues with the sophisticated sensibility of a jazz musician and jazz with the communal simplicity of a folk artist. He has recorded solo ventures, as a member of the U and I band, and with U and I bandmate Samoa Wilson, and continues to perform widely in various formats.

Eli Smith

Eli Smith is a folk singer, banjo player and guitarist who grew up in New York’s Greenwich Village. Smith has recorded for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and regularly performs as a solo musician and with the string band the Down Hill Strugglers.

Eli has performed and recorded with John Cohen (New Lost City Ramblers) and Peter Stampfel (The Holy Modal Rounders and The Fugs), and has opened for songwriters Patti Smith and Steve Earle. He can be heard singing "The Roving Gambler" on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis, produced by T Bone Burnett. Eli Smith has performed at festivals and venues including the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Newport Folk Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, The Jalopy Theatre and many more.

Eli is also a music producer, currently heading the annual Brooklyn Folk Festival and Washington Square Park Folk Festival and has curated releases of historic archival recordings for Dust-to-Digital and Jalopy Records. Smith also hosts the Down Home Radio Show podcast, which is available at www.DownHomeRadioShow.com.

"Eli Smith is one of the most vital figures in the new revival of traditional American music - not hipster Americana, not navel-gazing songwritery, but homemade, heartfelt old-time music with a deep sense of history, community, and the pleasures of good picking and singing."
- Elijah Wald

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