Relax Your Mind

Jim Kweskin

Real Gone Music, 2017

http://jimkweskin.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/05/2017

Jim Kweskin And His Jug Band was a seminal band during the 1960s folk revival. Unblushing Brassiness (1963), Jug Band Music (1965), and Jim Kweskin And The Jug Band (1966) were all creative and unique approaches to the folk music idiom. The band also represented a lighter and more fun side of folk music.

Kweskin took a time out from the band in 1966 to release the solo album nbtc__dv_250 Relax Your Mind. The music was in the same vein, and several of his bandmates were present, but it was less focused and cohesive. In retrospect, it seems like an album of songs that Kweskin wanted to play and record that may not have been exactly right for his band.

There are two live tracks from a performance at Club 47 in Cambridge. “I Got Mine” and “Buffalo Skinners” not only show the technical proficiency and creative nature of Kweskin but also the goofiness that made his sound an important part of the folk movement.

The studio material has a simple and raw sound that gives a jam-like feel to it. Kweskin has always been an underrated guitarist but it is Jug Band harmonica player Mel Lyman who steals the instrumental show.

The material comes from a number of sources. “Bye And Bye” is an old Southern gospel song that Kweskin interprets from a folk perspective. “Guabi Guabi” is an African folk song that undergoes an Americanization. “Eight More Miles To Louisville” is an old country song made famous by Grandpa Jones and shows how adept Kweskin was at adapting material to his own brand of folk music.

Two classic blues tunes make an appearance: Mississippi John Hurt’s “My Creole Belle” and Ledbelly’s “Relax You Mind” find Kweskin exploring a distinctly American art form. It is the opening track; “A Look At The Ragtime Era (Sister Katie’s Night Out): I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister” that is a career thesis statement for Kweskin, both as a solo artist and band leader.

Relax Your Mind is an often overlooked album in the journey of Jim Kweskin and of 1960s folk music. It is not your usual folk music album, which makes it interesting and a necessary listening experience for any fan of the era.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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