Monday, August 2, 2010

"K.C. Moan" - Memphis Jug Band


Set Three: Songs; Disc Two; Track Eleven: "K.C. Moan" performed by Memphis Jug Band. "Vocal trio with harmonica, kazoo, banjo, jug, guitar." Recorded in Memphis on October 4, 1929. Original issue Victor V-38558A.

For biographical information on Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, see the entry for "Bob Lee Junior Blues"

Recorded just fifteen days before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, "K.C. Moan" is described by Smith as a "quartet arrangement of a well known work song." At the time of this recording, the Memphis Jug Band consisted of Will Shade on harmonica and vocal, Tee Wee Blackman on lead vocal and guitar, Charlie Burse on guitar, Ben Ramey on vocal and kazoo, and Jab Jones on jug. Of the members of the group heard on this recording, only Shade and Ramey are also on "Bob Lee Junior Blues."

I thought I heard that K.C. when she blowed.
Oh, I thought I heard that K.C. when she blowed.
Oh, I thought I heard that K.C. when she blowed.
She blowed like my woman’s on board.

When I get back on that K.C. road,
Oh, when I get back on that K.C. road,
Oh, when I get back on that K.C. road,
Gonna love my baby like I never loved before.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.
Mmm, mmm, mmm.
Mmm, mmm, mmm.
Mmm, mmm, mmm.


"K.C. Moan" is an extremely laid back performance of a very simple song. Only two if the three verses contain lyrics. The two verses with lyrics feature only two lines each (with the first line repeated three times). This song is an object lesson in how a song need not be complex in order to be effective. If Smith's conjecture about the song's origin as a work song is correct, the speaker in the song is likely a prisoner listening with longing to the sound of a train going by, wishing that his woman was on her way to meet him. In the second verse, he sings about going home and how he is going to "love [his] baby like [he] never loved before" once he gets there. As Smith notes, "the train is a constantly recurring symbol" in such songs. Johnny Cash would make use of a similar image in his "Folsom Prison Blues."

Jab Jones, who plays the jug on this recording, appears elsewhere on the Anthology, playing piano on "Expressman Blues"

"K.C. Moan" is the fourth of five work songs in a row.


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Here's John Sebastian and the J-Band performing a version of "K.C. Blues." This video also features some fierce harmonica playing from Sebastian. The performance follows a short interview with Sebastian.



pushkinsuncle performs "K.C. Moan" on slide guitar in this excellent version...



In this video, the Blue Ribbon Jug Band perform "K.C. Moan" in prison stripes!



Download and listen to The Memphis Jug Band - "K.C. Moan"

7 comments:

  1. That track always takes me away on that steamboat.

    Rootstone Jug Band's version of the tune is here: http://jugband.bandcamp.com/

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  2. If you go to http://barehandjugband.com/ and navigate to the music section, you can hear a great version by Chicago's Barehand Jug Band (along with a bunch of other great traditional tunes). Check them out.

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  3. I always assumed the woman might be LEAVING on the K.C., thus the "Moan" in the title and the overall feeling of the song. Anyway, I love this song. It's every bit as striking and evocative in its brevity as anything by Sappho.

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  4. Bob Dylan recently used "K.C. Moan" as one of the sources for his "Duquesne Whistle"

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  5. I really love this song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwWbIvfR0pM

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  6. The brotherhood of jug band blues also does a very smooth version.taj mahal and Geoff muldaurs version are great

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  7. K.C. Moan is on a Mojo WorKings' CD (Just Another Button, 2016), they are great Hungarian blues band.

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