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The South Austin Jug Band Performs in Wimberley: James Hyland, Will Dupuy, Willie Pipkin, Dennis Ludiker and Brian Beken in Coffeehouse Concert
Musicianship with unmistakable cheer arrives at Susanna's Kitchen Thursday, December 21, 2006.
Call the music of the South Austin Jug Band whatever you like: bluegrass or newgrass, neo-Jug, acoustic country-folk, Texas roots unplugged, swinging Lone Star beatnik country or anything else that strikes you. It defies easy pigeonholing with sprightly picking and fiddling through endless categories.
From south of Austin’s Colorado River, from hometowns littered across
Texas and the United States, from a mesh of influences running through
blues and country and newgrass comes the South Austin Jug Band, one the
most fierce set of strings working together today. Innovative in their
combination of genres and true to the traditions of their musical
roots, the South Austin Jug Band has solidified itself in the world of
The unmistakable cheer the South Austin Jug Band brings to their music
is clear. Musicianship, focused songwriting, and pristine instrumentals
show their determination to keep improving and reaching out to more
audiences. “It may sound obvious,” commented singer/guitarist James
Hyland, “But it’s just more fun to play well-written songs.”
James Hyland fronts the South Austin Jug Band with his smoothly twanged
tenor, and is joined by Will Dupuy on bass, Willie Pipkin on lead
guitar, Dennis Ludiker on mandolin and fiddle and Brian Beken on fiddle
in a style that is described by Tony Peyeser in the Santa Monica Mirror
as “old-timey roots but deliver(s) the musical goods in a contemporary,
South Austin Jug Band began in the Fall of 2000 when singer/guitarist
James Hyland pulled together a few pickers for a once-off gig at
Austin's legendary Broken Spoke. The piece-meal band had such a blast
that they continued to jam out their favorite country tunes and
bluegrass breakdowns on weekends. Within a year the boys decided to
share their music with the rest of Texas.
From such humble beginnings, South Austin Jug Band has grown
exponentially over the subsequent four years, garnering an enthusiastic
fan base in the Midwest and West Coast and Northwest where they
recently toured opening and backing up singer songwriter extraordinaire
Based in the Live Music Capitol of the World, South Austin Jug Band's
new fans reach all the way to Europe (following a successful summer
2005 tour) and were crowned Best New Band at the 2003 Telluride
Bluegrass Festival and Best Bluegrass Band at the 2005 Austin Music
Awards. They were hailed as a “rarity—popular with the 'Texas Uprising’
curved ball cap crowd, as well as the jam band groovers,” by Michael
Corcoran in the Austin American Statesman. The band has kept up a
prodigious touring schedule all the while, playing nearly 200 shows a
year. “We’ve done a lot of our growing on stage,” Hyland explained.
Each song, each voice and solo and note is imbued with a committed
passion that courses through their music. The ballads are bent on
breaking our hearts, the instrumentals crackle with spitfire solos, and
their newgrass numbers are stacked with vibrant, vigorous lines.
South Austin Jug Band members come from different musical backgrounds:
Will Dupuy’s mother is a Grammy-nominated classical singer who performs
regularly in the Dallas Opera, while fiddler Brian Beken was crowned
Texas’ 2004 Flatpicking champion. James Hyland crooned up in North
Carolina before heading south to study at the University of Texas.
Dennis Ludiker was born into a family of Washington state fiddlers and
was awarded first place at the prestigious Walnut Valley Festival in
Winfield back in 2002. Guitarist Willie Pipkin was named for the iconic
Willie Nelson. The band’s music was in their blood before they even
Varied musical tastes are also present. Lead guitarist Willie Pipkin is
a blues man through and through. Hyland and Dupuy are influenced by
Steve Earle and legendary Townes Van Zandt. Dennis Ludiker and Brian
Beken are drawn to jazz and newgrass and anything else that’ll fuel
their improvisatory fires. But in performance, the group’s commitment
to creating music together leads to a coherent and cohesive sound.
Together they’ve created a sound described by San Francisco's East Bay
Express as “a joyful noise that seems made of pure sunlight and
Though the band members themselves are young (with no one touching
thirty yet), the South Austin Jug Band’s quick maturation in sound and
dedication is startling, and considering how far they’ve come it’s
exciting to think how much further they can go. “No one ever gets bored
with anything, on stage or in the audience,” says Hyland. “And we can’t
ask for much more than that.”
Catch them on the way up at Susanna's Kitchen.
Susanna's Kitchen opens its doors at 7, music starts at 7:30 with two
45 minute sets and an intermission. Pie, coffee, tamales and
outstanding music for only $10 per person.