JOOK is another spelling for Juke and, in this context, is a synonym for Jug, Juke or Skiffle [Band].
Bands of this sort were often made up with a number of the musicians playing home–made instruments and, frequently, they played
at house–rent parties.
Such parties were held to help the occupant pay his or her rent and party–goers paid to attend.
The Great Northern Jook Band was essentially a jug band.
However, because no jug blowers were readily available to play the bass line of the music, and we anyway had
incorporated a double–bass player into the band, the GNJB included the word “Jook” into its
name to reflect this.
The band was formed by Mike Ballantyne and Jock Westwater, in 1971 with Mike on vocals, guitar and kazoo,
and Jock on vocals and plectrum banjo.
These two then unearthed Henry “Piney Woods” Henderson who sang and played harmonica, banjo,
six & twelve string guitar, and National steel guitar; (Harry) Tracy on washboard, fiddle, bass guitar,
double bass, occasional jug, and harmonica, and Al Cook playing double bass.
Al only stayed with the band for a short while and Mike telephoned Øivind Helseth, in Norway to take his place.
Mike, Jock and Øivind had met the previous year when Øivind was studying at Edinburgh University and he had
been jamming with dixieland jazz bands in the area.
Subsequently Øivind played his blond double bass, together with occasional washboard, vocals and guitar.
Later the GNJB was very fortunate to have Jo Farrer on vocals. Both Jock and Jo came from the traditional Jazz
scene in Edinburgh, Jock playing with various bands and Jo sitting in on vocals here and there. Jo sang with
a dynamite voice like Bessie Smith (still does) and used many of the songs from Bessie Smith’s
repertoire. Also Neil Munro joined the band and played guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, as well as vocals.
The band played all over the place, in Scotland (where it was based) and in England and
Øivind also set up a small tour for the band in Norway. Øivind was from Lillehammer and
had an ‘in’ with a couple of clubs. They also played the first Aberfeldy Folk Festival
where they had second billing.
The band was a great deal of fun and I think all the players had a great time with the music.
In 1972 Jo immigrated to Canada and, coincidently, Mike went there as a visitor in the fall of 1973
but later became both an immigrant to, and a Citizen of Canada.
After Mike left the band it apparently changed its name to the Shelby County Band.
The band’s repertoire was largely taken from Jock’s record collection augmented by songs that
Piney already sang.
Here is a list of some of the songs the GNJB sang, circa 1971-1973:
Sadie green, the Vamp of New Orleans, (Five Harmaniacs, 1926 & Jay C. Flippen and His Gang, 1926)
The Jug Band’s Back (w & m: Mike Ballantyne)
Cocaine Habit (Hattie Hart & Memphis Jug Band)
Coney Island Washboard, (Five Harmaniacs, 1926)
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
Going to Germany (Gus Cannon)
Washington at Valley Forge [Crazy Words, Crazy Tune] (Yellen, Ager)
The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me, (Swanstone, Carvon, & Morgan, 1919)
St James Infirmary Blues
Walk Right In (Gus Cannon)
Take It Slow and Easy (Jesse Fuller)
Sporting Life Blues
Blackthorn Stick & Father Flynn (Instrumental)
It Hurts Me Too (Tampa Red)
Boodle–Am–Shake (Dixieland Jug Blowers)
Jug Band Music
When the Saints Go Marching In
Momma Don’t Allow
Rag the Blues
Beedle–Um–Bum (Thomas A. “Georgia Tom” Dorsey / Tampa Red)
Bully of the Town
Black Woman is Like a Black Snake (Memphis Jug Band)
Coon from Tennessee (Charlie Poole)
I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom (Robert Johnson)
I’m Satisfied With My Gal (California Ramblers)
Lindberg Hop [Overseas Stomp] (Memphis Jug Band)
Digging My Potatoes
Sweet Georgia Brown
San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller)
Blood Red River
Diamond Ring Blues
Nobody’s Sweetheart Now (Joe “King” Oliver)
Ain’t Misbehaving (Fats Waller)
Glory of Love
Oh Baby It Ain’t No Lie (Elizabeth Cotton)
Please Don’t Think I’m Santa Claus (Lil McClintock)
I Got Fooled (Brownie McGhee)
Midnight Special (Leadbelly)
St. Louis Blues (Handy)
Trouble In Mind
Poor Man’s Blues (Bessie Smith)
The Blues Ain’t Nothing (Bessie Smith)
What It Takes To Bring You Back (Butterbeans & Suzie)
Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey
After You’ve Gone
Stealing, Stealing (Memphis Jug Band)
Sadie Green the Vamp of New Orleans (Five Harmaniacs)
This page last modified: April the 20th 2011