Steel City Jug Slammers - Lower Broad, Nashville

June 11, 2015  •  5 Comments


I took the Music City Star train to Riverfront and LoBro (Lower Broadway) in Nashville to walk around and test a camera when I saw a band of 6 mostly tattooed, buskers (street performers) across the street at the not open for business 219 Broadway.  I was intrigued by the look and sound but only took one photo across 4 lanes of traffic and planned to see them up close on the way back to the train.  Later, when I crossed the street and headed back, the band was on a break.  My loss.

When I looked at the photo I took, I found the band was a jug band called Steel City Jug Slammers from Birmingham, AL – aka Steel City.  They are used to busking and playing small venues in Birmingham, Nashville, and around the country but have also appeared on PBS’ Prairie Home Companion out of St. Paul, MN.

Steel City Jug Slammers can best be described as a Leon Redbone-ish, early 1900s, Delta blues, juke joint, jug band that just plays fun music.  Their choice of instruments is eclectic and born out of the poverty of another era.  There is a 4-string plectrum style banjo (not a 5-string like Earl Scruggs played), 2 guitars (one a low priced Harmony starter guitar from long ago), a Kazoo, a mandolin banjo (tuned with double strings like a mandolin but with a banjo resonator), a washtub bass (a single wire string attached to a #5 washtub as a resonator on one end and a stick on the other end that is pulled taunt to change pitches), and, of course, no jug band would be complete without a jug that is blown into to produce pitches. Steel City Jug Slammers has at least 2 jug players.

Check out She’s Long Gone, Steel City Jug Slammers’ latest video shot partially in front of The Peanut Depot on cobblestoned, Victorian, gas lamp lit Morris Avenue in Birmingham where peanuts are still being roasted in 100 year old roasters with no oil or preservatives – a fitting setting for Steel City Jug Slammers.

She's Long Gone - Steel City Jug Slammers




Lindsey McGovern(non-registered)
Beautiful Photograph and article!
Connie Gilmore(non-registered)
First, I have to compliment my cousin, Ronny Light, on this beautiful photograph which was taken across 4 lanes of traffic! Wow, he sure has talent. Next, I have to compliment the band on their talent and their super fun music! I've never seen or heard a jug band here in the NY/NJ area and enjoyed the Jug Slammers videos that I just watched. Keep up the good work!!!
Erica Smith(non-registered)
Wonderful article. Im proud to be related to such talented and aspiring men. They have come through so much to be where tbey are now. I am at a loss for words, when i describe how magnificent they are. Our family is blessed to have them. I love you all.
Scott BOan(non-registered)
Great snap! Oh yeah. "Fun Music" and fun performances. They played a one-nighter here at Boans On The Square in Lewisburg, TN and it was a HOOT from start to finish. Not a dull moment for the 2+ Hours they played! We were lucky to have them (my Aunt in Birmingham owned a skate park where one or more of the members skated as youngsters) as I just happened to see a post on my Aunt's Facebook page about a park reunion. I saw where Nick Bate was in a musical group and invited them up. He accepted, but it wasn't until later that I saw where they were on Garrison Keillor's show back in February! Hoping to have them back down real soon! Here's a taste:
Michelle Bate(non-registered)
Thank you for a wonderful article on The Steel City Slammers. I used to worry myself sick about them on the street performing. I don't anymore. I appreciate your words of encouragement to them. They all have very proud Moms. I got lucky with 2 of them being my sons. Not a day goes by that I am not astounded by the talent and love of much from each and everyone of these dedicated young men.
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