South Austin Jug Band to headline Kite Festival

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By The Staff

They don’t actually play jugs – and maybe that ain’t a bad thing.

In fact, the South Austin Jug Band, traveling to Los Alamos for this weekend’s Kite Festival, has gotten quite a bit of attention lately for its very un-jug-like sound.

The new album, “Strange Invitation,” has undertones of something very un-bluegrass all together.

Try Beck.

Listen for Stevie Wonder, Béla Fleck and Nine Inch Nails.

You’ll hear their influence. In Beck’s case, you’ll even hear a cover tune.

“We decided to … get away from everything we know and try to be creative,” said fiddler Brian Beken in a news release. “I think it worked.”

The album, released by Jank Jankins Records in April, was recorded in just a day-and-a-half. But, because the band had reserved the studio for four days (“all we could afford”), they ended up having plenty of time to polish it up – to make it “what it was supposed to be,” as Beken put it.

James Hyland, who plays a variety of stringed instruments with the band, added, “I think we knocked it out of the park.”

Already, other, less-biased folks seem to be agreeing.

The International Songwriters Competition chose one of the songs on the disc, titled “Chicago,” as a finalist in its Americana category. And the South Austin Jug Band has embarked on a rigorous touring schedule, including some fairly big-time gigs like the 2008 Strawberry Music Festival, Wakarus Music Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival.

In addition to Beken and Hyland, the three-time winner of the Austin Music Award for Best Bluegrass Band – whether or not the genre fits – includes Dennis Ludiker on mandolin and fiddle, and the trio is joined by Noah Jeffries on upright bass and acoustic guitar, Rob Hooper on percussion and cajon, and Bruce James on piano.

The group has played Los Alamos several times over the years. If you missed the past shows, here’s your chance. If you’ve seen the South Austin Jug Band, no doubt you’ll want to see them again.

The band plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Overlook Park in White Rock during the opening night of the Los Alamos Arts Council’s annual Kite Festival. The concert is brought to you by Gordons’ Concerts and the Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series.