' A nontraditional, traditional band'
The Bathtub Gin Serenaders take a jug-band approach to Dixieland jazz. "We're a nontraditional, traditional band," says guitarist and frontman Wayne Philipp.
The nine-piece band serves up hot jazz and blues standards from the 1920s and '30s forward. But while its repertoire is rooted in pre-World War II American classics, its instrumentation is similar to that of a jug band, minus the jug.
The Bathtub Gin Serenaders will play at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at Liquid Assets, 96 N. Main St., and 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Caldera Tap House, 31 Water St., Ashland.
Philipp and washboard player Chari Weatherford played in a Medford band together and shared mutual respect for early jazz and blues. In 2009, the pair recruited like-minded musicians from Medford and Ashland and advertised on Craigslist for a vocalist, violinist and percussionist.
"There's not a lot of money to be found with a nine-piece band, so when I put the ads on Craigslist, I said the purpose of the band was to have fun," says Philipp.
The group's current lineup is Philipp (guitar and banjo), Ila Selene (vocals), Stephany Smith-Pearson (accordion, mandolin and vocals), Weatherford (washboard and kazoo), Lawrence Newcomb (clarinet and saxophone), Bongo Bob (percussion), Daniel Wyatt (upright bass), Melissa Orr (violin) and Eric von Radics (guitar).
With only one horn player, the band rearranges its pieces to accommodate a string-dominant lineup.
"If there's a trumpet line, our violin player might play that line," explains Philipp.
Their repertoire spans a century of early dance jazz, ranging from contemporary pieces by such bands as Asylum Street Spankers and New Orleans' Tuba Skinny to the oldest tune, "Shame on You," a song written in 1904 about a preacher who was stealing chickens.
The band released its debut album, "Me and My Gin," in April and premiered it on the streets of New Orleans. In order to avoid the hassle of licensing fees, the band stuck to playing older, public-domain tunes on the recording. The album, titled after blues vocalist Bessie's Smith's song by the same name, features a solid selection of slow, bluesy ballads and driving jazz tunes.
There's no cover to the band's show at Liquid Assets, but gratuities are appreciated. See www.bathtubginserenaders.com or call 541-482-9463.