Noah Lewis, the Cure for the Winter Blues

There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to listen to a lot of Jug Band music. Something to do with the dark nights and over-abundance of forced jollity and crass sentimentality I guess. Or maybe I’m just a grinch. In any case the desire to get warm, pour a large liquor, lock the world out and do nothing but lay listening comes every year.

There’s a some stellar harp playing to discover in the jug bands of the pre-war era, and few players matched the skill and popularity of Noah Lewis.

Lewis played and recorded with Cannon’s Jug Stompers, and also produced several solo sides. With a distinctive style and superb breath control he was reportedly able to coax a great deal of volume out of his un-amplified harmonica. Must have been quite something to see him play in his prime. 

Luckily he did record quite extensively. So if you’d like to join me here’s a primer of a few of his more famous sides. Bah Humbug, let it snow!*

*Okay, I’ll be more realistic. Let it rain!

Minglewood Blues (1928).

Pig Ankle Strut (1928).

Going to Germany (1929).

Viola Lee Blues (1928).

And one of my favourite pre-war solo harmonica pieces, Devil in the Woodpile (1929).