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The ’20s produced many entertaining jug bands, but few were as readily likable as those led by banjoist-vocalist Gus Cannon. His recordings have an irresistible melodic quality that still charms. Take for example his rendition of the blues standard “Poor Boy Long Ways from Home,” on which he plays banjo with a slide! Gus also courageously took on social concerns with his “Can You Blame the Colored Man?” The rollicking “Feather Bed” has all the makings of an old-time country dance tune with Noah Lewis’s infectious harmonica taking the place of a fiddle. Then there’s “Minglewood Blues” and “My Money Never Runs Out,” two numbers that would later enchant the ’60s folk crowd. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Few other jug bands managed this kind of consistent quality. For fans of early blues, these sides come under the heading of absolutely essential. –Lars Gandil
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