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.