BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Minneapolis 2001 -
Something is missing--something essential. "We need a jug player up here," declares a squat woman with a professional wrestler's voice. She motions to an empty microphone beside her, on the otherwise crowded stage of the Cabooze. It is Sunday, February 4, the afternoon of the 19th Annual Jug Band Contest, and this is no time or place to be without a jug. But soon a draftee is enlisted, and the Great Bobo Jug Band launches into a mighty, thumping blast of hillbilly-stomp music--the sort of racket O Brother, Where Art Thou? has made suddenly hip. (Well, okay, not really.) Within seconds, a horde of dreadlocked twentysomethings--recognizable from the Hard Times and Seward cafés--is heartily shaking it to the washtub disco beat, as if rock 'n' roll or hip hop or modern urban music of any kind had never happened. You can have your city-slicking pop-rock-techno-metal-machine music, these dancers seem to say; we'll bond with northern Minnesota grandpas who look like Tom Hanks if he'd stayed on the island another 30 years. We'll say "hiya" to Koerner, Ray and Glover (all three are present) and dance to the pre-industrial shuffle as little kids clutch one another's hands and hop like rabbits. We'll trade Dylan stories--everyone over age eight has one--and make every attempt to influence the judges of the contest. ("We want bribes!" shouts one adjudicator, helpfully.) We'll watch the evening swirl to a climax with a stray cover of the Velvet Underground's "One Toke Over the Line" and a blues number referencing--here's one for the kids--the Baha Men. ("Who let the jugs out?!" screams the band, "Who-who-who-who?!") First prize--cowbell roll, please--is a waffle iron. Second prize is you're fired. Kidding, of course.