South Austin Jug Band
Gig Seeker Pro

South Austin Jug Band

Band Rock Jam


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Friday, October 21, at the Last Concert Cafe"

With its clean, earnest, New Age bluegrass sound, the South Austin Jug Band seems more suited to the Sugar Hill label than to Houston-based Blue Corn, which nevertheless has just released Dark and Weary World. The SAJB comes from that jam-grass niche populated by the likes of Sugar Hill acts Nickel Creek or Railroad Earth, but these Austin boys separate themselves from the jam-band pack with a determined back-home bluegrass lean to their performances -- which is to say they avoid the jazzy, noodling virtuosity that can make certain parts of sets by Eastern jam bands mind-numbingly non-entertaining. When SAJB attacks a traditional bluegrass number like "Raleigh and Spencer," it hits an infectious musical mark that can put a grin on the dourest critic's face, and ballads like "She Don't Care About Me" and "Weather on the Wood" are delivered with a straightforward, honest sincerity that absolutely sells the songs. Elsewhere, western swing workouts like "Lady Be Good" are delivered with a deft mastery of the idiom. This is one of those instantly likable bands, and these hard-travelers -- they recently toured behind Todd Snider -- come ready-made for both the listening room and the festival stage. - Houston Press

"John Shelton Ivany Top 21"

For the blues or the bluegrass turn to the South Austin Jug Band, the best bluegrass group to reach my ears in years. - John Shelton Ivany - issue 258 / syndicated column

"Critics Picks"

Though their name conjures up images of half-century-old pickers and grinners crowding a dilapidated front porch, the youthful and lively South Austin Jug Band adds some much needed rock grit to the new-grass sensibilities inherent in acoustic roots music. Sophomore album Dark and Weary World is country-folk with just as much in common with Springsteen's Nebraska as with new-grass stalwarts like Sam Bush or Bela Fleck. Sans percussion, all five members of South Austin Jug Band create a ruckus with fiddles, guitars and mandolins that would do most rock bands proud. Whether it's a ballad (the downtrodden and gorgeous title cut) or a rigorous workout (the rural political incorrectness of "Coon Ass"), these boys pound labels and conventions into the South Texas dirt. This triple bill features enough fretboard fancy and hootenanny (ahem) high jinks to please all but the most sadly cosmopolitan among us.

By Darryl Smyers

Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005
- Dallas Observer

"ACL Music Fest Live Shots"

It may have been early Saturday afternoon, but there were still several hundred fans and curious onlookers assembled before the South Austin Jug Band took the stage. The young Austin quintet didn't disappoint either, with their quick pickin' and frolicsome songs. Concentrating on material from their fine new Dark and Weary World, SAJB coupled unrestrained instrumentals with hints of Celtic flavor and newgrass improvisation and humorous tunes that reflect their Texas background. They even attacked some hot jazz and Western swing with an inspired medley of "Minor Swing" and "Sweet Sue" that featured the double fiddles of Dennis Ludiker and Brian Beken. The crowd responded by twirling up dust and singing along; the songs may have been new, but to the faithful, they seemed like old favorites. Vocalist James Hyland slowed things down a bit with the new disc's title track, showing another side of the band's passion, one that was restrained yet equally moving. The set ended when they were just getting started, but it was an ample taste of what they can do, making clear that the South Austin Jug Band have achieved their potential and evolved into one of the most thoroughly entertaining ensembles on today's Texas music scene.

Jim Caliguiri, September 30, 2005 - Austin Chronicle

"South Austin Jug Band:"

A band can toil for years, thrilling club crowds and preaching to the choir with every CD release, but then they'll record the magic song, the one that galvanizes the career and adds new fans by the truckload. The South Austin Jug Band has got a "Ghost" of a chance of breaking out nationally with a new tune that envelopes that man of constant phrasing, James Hyland, in a sweet snarl of fiddle and banjo, served with slices of mandolin. The new LP's "Ghost" would be the standout cut on an Uncle Tupelo album; it's that good.

One teensy knock on the band's second studio LP is that SAJB too often leaps out of its dark and weary mood for an light-headed crowd pleaser. Let me get to the point — I'm not a fan of Western swing, and the three Willsian selections have me hitting the skip button as fast as "Grasshopper" snatching the pebble. I will admit that the swing version of Gershwin's "Lady Be Good" is quite charming, but I could've done without "Karma" and "No Baby Swings Like Mine."

When you've got two nationally recognized fiddle players (Brian Beken and Dennis Ludiker, who plays more mandolin these days), the tendency is to display the full range, so there's the bluegrass overload of "Delirium," a sprightly cover of Bruce Robison's "She Don't Care About Me," and a pair of otherwordly instrumentals; the Celtic-inflected "Overdrivin' the Mic" and the Hot Club jazz of "Bluegrass In the Backwoods."

There is no finer string outfit in the state. The Jug band has always had hot players, but this Marvin Dykhuis-produced album shows that, as songwriters, they're ready for the bigger stage.
— Michael Corcoran, Sept. 13, 2005
- Austin American Statesman


Dark and Weary World, Blue Corn Music, 2005: Reached #9 in Americana Music Charts.
South Austin Jug Band: South Austin Jug Band, 2002, self-release


Feeling a bit camera shy


Both innovative in their combining of genres and true to the traditions of their musical roots, the South Austin Jug Band has solidified itself as a tour-de-force in the world of acoustic music.

Pop in the band's self-titled debut album or catch the boys rip-roaring on stage and the unmistakable cheer they bring to their music is clear. "Dark and Weary World," their follow-up release on Houston's prestigious roots music label Blue Corn Music, retains that same cheer but is bolstered with improved musicianship, focused songwriting, and a pristine recording that shows 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."

Since finalizing their current lineup in late 2004, the South Austin Jug Band (SAJB) has continued to astound audiences around the world and record their sophomore album, "Dark and Weary World." Reflecting on an active year, Hyland said, "This is the best ensemble we've had, and we just want to run with this as long as we can." Hyland fronts SAJB 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 Doug Hill in the Norman Transcript as “...white punks on a Bob Wills bender, SAJB gave Texas flavor to hyper-bluegrass...banty roosters on stage, they hopped around, making their strings crow, daring each other to take it higher.”

SAJB 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, but 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. Since such humble beginnings, SAJB has grown exponentially over the subsequent four years, garnering an enthusiastic fan-base in the Midwest, West Coast, and Northwest, where they recently toured and backed up singer-songwriter extraordinaire Todd Snider. While being based in the Live Music Capitol of the World, SAJB's new fans reach all the way to Europe (following a successful summer 2005 tour) and they have garnered awards as Best New Band at the 2002 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Best Bluegrass Band at the 2005 Austin Music Awards, being 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.

"Dark and Weary World" epitomizes the maturity that SAJB has gained on the road. Each recording, each song, each voice and solo and note is imbrued with a committed passion that courses through the entire album. The ballads are bent on breaking our hearts, the instrumentals crackle with spitfire solos, and their newgrass numbers are stacked with vibrant, vigorous lines.
And while the pace and focus may vary from song to song, each band-member's devotion to the album makes "Dark and Weary World" a tree with varying branches but one clear, resonating root. "We nurtured it along, we were all together the whole way through," reminisced bassist Will Dupuy.

SAJB admittedly comes 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, and guitarist Willie Pipkin's namesake was from the iconic Willie Nelson. The band's music was in their blood before they even knew it.

These various upbringings led to varied tastes: lead guitarist Willie Pipkin is a blues-man through and through; Hyland and Dupuy are more influenced by Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt; Dennis Ludiker and Brian Beken are drawn to jazz and newgrass and anything else that'll fuel their improvisatory fires. But both on stage and on "Dark and Weary World," the group's commitment to each other's interests and creating music together has led to a coherent and cohesive sound—each song brought into rehearsal is workshopped by the group with hooks, changes, and solos added until the piece is in part written by each member. Together they've created a sound that's been described by San Francisco's East Bay Express as "a joyful noise that seems made of pure sunlight and moonshine."

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