Most of the music we play and the instruments we use date back to the music of the 1920s and 1930s as performed in the south-eastern states of the U.S.A. Many people ask us about the origins of the songs we sing, so for those who are interested here is some background to our good-time music.
Up until the 1930s in the states, live music was a very important recreation and entertainment. Up in the mountain communities and down on the flatlands, family string bands were common using fiddles, banjos, guitars and mandolins to play and sing old dance tunes, folk ballads, vaudeville tunes and popular songs. Out on the streets, in the dance halls and in the traveling minstrel and medicine shows, black jug bands played folk and blues while white string bands played old-timey dance tunes and sang folk and minstrel songs. The jug bands played their good time blues on assorted instruments, some home-made like the washboards and the jugs and some cheap like the roosterish kazoos and the wailing harmonicas. The string bands favored banjo, fiddles, mandolins and guitars. In the traveling shows white and black musicians sometimes worked together and inevitably there was some cross-over of styles and tunes. In the early days of recorded music (the late 1920s) the record companies marketed the black music as “race” recordings and the white music as “old-time” or “hillbilly” but out on the streets the traditions were more entwined: hillbillies started fooling with the blues and jug-bands played some old-time mountain tunes.
Little was known of this music in England until the mid 1950s when the “skiffle” craze, an off-shoot from trad jazz bands, hit the popular music scene and acts like Lonnie Donegan and The Vipers inspired a rash of local skiffle bands playing old American songs on basses made from tea-chests and washboards. It was a huge but very short-lived craze and was all over and largely forgotten by the early 1960s.
Continuing this tradition The Whiskey Dogs play a mix of American roots music in our own style. What all our songs have in common is a light touch and a sunny, good-time feel. We have a good time playing them and it shows!