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The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band

Lester's Loafin Lounge – 2015 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band

The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band offer a mix of old-time, novelty and country. The title comes from a real place near Goodlettsville Tenn. that has earned a good reputation, especially in the bluegrass and old-time neighborhoods.

Leroy Troy, a regular on Marty Stuart's RFD-TV show, plays banjo and sings lead on some numbers. "I'm My Own Grandpa" is a well-known novelty number, and Troy does it justice here with a voice right out of the hills. He has the twang that many people associate with "backwoods." It's a sound that much of the country music world has struggled to escape, but the band embraces it. "Hillbilly Logic" is a number by Mike Webb (guitar, vocals and Dobro) and, if you're a dyed-in-the-wool country person, has some understandable logic in its words. You'll hear Stuart on a Telecaster and Harry Stinson (Marty Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives) on drums.

Troy sings Hank Williams' "Mansion On the Hill" and may have too much twang for your liking doing such a serious song. The harmony isn't particularly harmonious either. On the other hand, "Count Me Out," a great number by Marty Robbins and, later, Gene Watson, gets a good reading. Listen for Dan Kelly's fiddle playing on this number. "Grey Eagle" is a well-known traditional instrumental, usually heard without a washboard. Webb's country number, "Wood and Strings," is a memory-laden song associated with the guitar he's played for many years. You're transported from familiar country numbers like "The Bridge Washed Out" (Warner Mack) featuring Hargus "Pig" Robbins on the piano (with an inexplicably missing instrumental break a minute into the song) to novelty numbers like "Fryin' Pan." It makes for an odd mix but the repertoire of the band is unusual. Mike Armistead (son of the lounge's founder, Lester Armistead) and Ernie Sykes, a well-traveled and experienced bass player.

Their music is meant to be a fun experience and, depending on your tolerance for novelty songs, it meets that goal. Their musical ability sometimes gets lost in the fun, but there are some excellent musicians. The serious country songs are a plus for most listeners.