Juggin’ out

The Great American Jug Band
Photo: John Thomas

For calling itself The Great American Jug Band, the Norman-grown group is conspicuously light on the jug part.

“We own a jug,” front man Will Gardner said. “We just don’t have anyone to blow into it.”

But really, the jug always was meant to be more than just a jug. It’s more of a state of mind.

“In the beginning of the band, we would just bang on shit we had in the apartment. I had this grandiose idea that we’d have 20 people onstage with jugs and random percussion that anyone could do,” Gardner said. “But over time, the sound didn’t go exactly where we thought it would … but there are some pots and pans.”

The Great American Jug Band had its origins in Gardner’s solo work, but as the members started adding up, it soon became bigger than that: John Givens (fiddle, vocals), Josh Benson (drums), Jon Goodell (guitar, banjo), Gabe Matthews (auxiliary percussion), Cody Clifton (bass), Eli Wimmer (keys) and Tim Gregory (steel guitar, mandolin).

“Some of us were lifelong friends,” Gardner said. “Others just met each other as drunks in a bar who enjoyed music.”

The Great American Jug Band
Photo: John Thomas

With each piece bringing something different (and loud) to the table, The Great American Jug Band was born in 2011, and for all the jug the act lacks, the unruly alt-folk outfit makes up for it in patriotism and kazoos.

“The show is a very ‘America, fuck yeah’ kind of thing,” Gardner said, laughing. “This album we are putting out is more for listening. Sometimes in our live shows, they show up just for the performance and rowdiness. The album, they’ll actually get to hear the songs. It’s a CD that just about everyone could like.”

The self-titled record, produced by Doug Rader at Norman’s Zanzibar! Studios, branches out across state borders toward all corners of the United States.

“The sound is all over place,” Gardner said. “It’s influenced by all American music, be it musical theater, country, folk or rock ’n’ roll.”

The band celebrates its release with a fitting-enough date on the Fourth of July, Thursday at The Deli. While the subtleties of the music might get lost in the raucous set that rivals the sound and spectacle of the fireworks displays that evening, there’s plenty of that to snap you out of the day-after hangover.

“There’s a lot more thought and thinking going on,” Gregory said. “It’s almost a concept album in a way.”

Added Gardner, “There’s a story to be told in the music alone. It grows and evolves with each song.”

Hey! Read This:
Zanzibar! Records feature

Joshua Boydston

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