Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug Band

(Last Updated On: January 2, 2017)

Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug Band

Jack Kelly & the South Memphis Jug BandJack Kelly and his Memphis Jug Band topped the Memphis Blues scene in the 1930s.  Guitar player and raspy-voiced Jack Kelly founded the band in the early 1930s and included some very talented musicians.  Will Batts, a great Mississippi fiddle player led a great deal of the songs. Batts was born January 24, 1904, in Michigan, Mississippi and moved to Memphis at the height of the Memphis jug band craze. Dane Sane,  from Mississippi, played guitar and migrated from Mississippi to Memphis.  Sane is also well known for his work with guitarist and blues legend Frank Stokes. Stokes also played in Jack Kelly’s Jug Band for a time.  “Doctor” D.M. Higgs played the jug,

The music that they played seemed to lean towards the blues. Many locals referred to them as being the “bluesiest” jug band in town. It was a classic “country blues” sound that included instruments like banjo, harmonica, kazoo.  Washboard and washtub bass along with the consistent use of duo guitars, fiddle, and jug made up the primary sound.

Conqueror ‎– 8242

Highway No. 61 Blues / Red Ripe Tomatoes  Conqueror ‎– 8242

Jack Kelly Recording History

Originally going by the name Jack Kelly’s Jug Busters, the band made their first recordings in 1933 under the name Jack Kelly and his South Memphis Jug Band, followed by a final session in 1939.  One of their most famous recordings was “Highway 61”. Recorded in their first 1933 session this track gained great momentum. The band gained great popularity in the Memphis area, and around the United States. Recording a little over 20 songs for American Record Co., Banner, Conqueror ‎and Vocalion, the jug band’s entire recording history seems to lie between 1933 and 1939.

Little is known about Jack Kelly and his life.  Some speculate that he may have been born in Northern Mississippi at the turn of the century, moving to Memphis in the 1920s.  Kelly continued to play with various formations of the band through the 1950s.  Remaining in Memphis during the 1940s, he teamed up with harmonica player Walter Horton.  In 1952 they recorded two numbers for Sun records, as Jackie Boy and Little Walter.

In 1960, Jack Kelly passed away in Memphis.

Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug Band – Complete Recorded Works

(Last Updated On: December 31, 2016)Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug Band – Complete Recorded Works was last modified:…

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December 31, 2016

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Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug Band
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Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug Band
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Originally going by the name Jack Kelly's Jug Busters, the band made their first recordings in 1933 under the name Jack Kelly and his South Memphis Jug Band, followed by a final session in 1939. One of their most famous recordings was "Highway 61". Recorded in their first 1933 session this track gained great momentum. The band gained great popularity in the Memphis area, and around the United States.
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Jug Band Supply
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