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10/25/2007

The Cornlikkers playing Ginseng Blues

I used to play in a jug band down in Champaign called the Cornlikkers, who played together for about two years before we all scattered. Toward the end of our time together, we were invited to perform on the local CBS affiliate, WCIA, the TV home of downstate Illinois’ only full-time radio meteorologist.

The tune is Ginseng Blues, which Tangleweed recorded in a similar fashion, on our second record. On this version, though, there’s yodeling in all the solo breaks, and Ryan Jerving is a much better yodeler than I. There’s a basically inaudible mandolin solo in the middle.

The lineup:

  • Ryan Jerving: baritone ukulele and vocals
  • Bill Whitemer: banjo ukulele and vocals
  • Riley Broach: Bass
  • Edward Burch: guitar and vocals
  • Kenneth Rainey: mandolin and vocals
  • Jim “Jugs” Randall: jug

Like so many of the other great juggists of the 20th Century, Jim Randall was classically trained. We could pair him with our backup juggist, Jerry, for the “jugs-a-plenty” rhythm section, and have them play Bach two part inventions.

All the folks at WCIA were great. After we finished playing, one of the newscasters excitedly played Mike Ditka’s amazingly punk rock performance of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” a rare treat in those halcyon pre-YouTube days. We got to rub elbows with the aforementioned full-time radio meteorologist. And our performance was followed by a story about a man and his pet fish, a wild 16-inch largemouth bass that would come when called:

“Do you have a name for him?”
“No. Just fish is all.”

This performance was transfered from an old VHS tape, so the audio is not great. My apologies.