This feature spotlights noteworthy compilations and reissues .
Album: "Memphis Jug Band" (Yazoo).
History: The jug bands had a sound of their own--one born of necessity but so inventive that it became a uniquely expressive cross between blues and jazz in the late-'20s and early-'30s. The idea was for a country-blues group to get some of the feeling of the era's big jazz bands when no one in the group could afford a cornet, sax, etc. So in addition to a cheap guitar, a harmonica, and maybe a violin or mandolin there appeared such upstart instruments as a jug (for the bass line), a kazoo (for the cornet) and a washboard (for percussion). The result in many cases was a crude cacophony, but in certain hands this combination proved capable of creating gloriously hypnotic rhythms and moods. Jug band land stretched from Kentucky (the Dixieland Jug Blowers) to North Texas (the Dallas Jug Band), with its unofficial capital in Memphis, home of many top outfits, including Cannon's Jug Stompers and Jack Kelly's Jug Busters. No band was more popular--or better--than the loose-knit outfit that took its name from the city. Formed by Will Shade, a veteran of medicine shows, the Memphis Jug Band recorded almost 60 sides between 1927 and 1930. By 1930 the group's popularity had run its course, though it briefly reformed and recorded in 1934, after which Shade returned to the medicine-show circuit and obscurity.