Garden Of Joy
Stony Plain, 2009
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/14/2009
The musical journey of Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D’Amato, or as she is more commonly known, Maria Muldaur, has come full circle. Her career began as a member of a jug band, and to jug band music she has returned.
Maria Muldaur is best remembered for her huge 1974 hit “Midnight At The Oasis,” but her early career was spent as a member of two classic jug bands. The Even Dozen Jug Band and Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band both had a great deal of success during the 1960’s.
Jug band music can be defined as a cross between folk and bluegrass music. Its roots extend back into the early twentieth century, with hundreds of groups would combine guitars, violins and mandolins with washboards, spoons, kazoos, combs – and, of course, jugs. By the 1960’s, the sound was much more refined, but the roots of the performances were still present.
Muldaur has issued a call to some former jug bandmates, and John Sebastian and David Grisman have responded. Also on board is Dan Hicks, who is a walking jug band – at least in spirit.
The highlight of the album is two new songs written by Hicks. “The Diplomat” and “Let It Simmer” both feature the clever lyrics for which he is noted. Muldaur’s vocal on the first is far from her pop days with its ‘20s flapper feel, while on “Let It Simmer,” she gives a sultry bluesy presentation. Hicks shares vocal duties on the medley “Life’s Too Short/When Elephants Roost In Bamboo Trees.” The interplay between him and Muldaur is both clever and amusing.
Many of the tracks come from the Depression era. Songs such as “Bank Failure Blues” and “The Panic Is On” are resurrected here for joyful performances. Another outstanding track is “The Ghost Of The St. Louis Blues” which has a Dixieland feel and more tongue-in-cheek lyrics.