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The Como Avenue Jug Band (Saturday, July 23rd, The Midtown Market on Lake Street)

By Taylor Carik

Like everything else here in the Twin Cities, the music scene is constantly changing. A new generation of young people are stepping into performances at locales both well-known and not, and regardless of genre, there's a feeling of some sort or creative resurgence in the Cities.

Here's just one example: The Como Avenue Jug Band at the Lake Street Midtown Market. Despite the downpour this past Saturday morning, the jug scene newcomers played two sets at the market, which is still somewhat developing in its second year. Many folks fled for cover when the rain started to fall, but the several stragglers who stuck around in the water-logged parking lot to see the Art Car Parade entries before they left were treated to a fantastic show.

One wouldn't consider an empty market in the rain an ideal musical situation for any performance. But the setting didn't stop the the Como Avenue Jug Band from putting on one hell of a hootenanny. The large, motley ensemble featured a range of instruments, from a guitar and bass to spoons, banjo and a tap dancer, each enthusiastically contributing their instrument and backing vocals, and each member playing and singing their hearts out.

And that's exactly the kind of the thing that the Midtown Market (and all of Minneapolis and St. Paul, really) needs. Let's be honest: nearly all of the weekly performances have been aging hippies with guitars singing the gentle brands of music so accurately captured in "A Mighty Wind." In many ways, that's perfectly appropriate---it's doubtful that the market's sellers and patrons would enjoy a midmorning performance from All the Pretty Horses.

Which of course means that there's not a lot of leeway in the venue's musical stylings. But the Market does present a musical niche, and the several young members of Como Avenue Jug Band are a strong, new addition to that niche. They may not have sung songs about fresh local produce (their witty and inventive lyrics instead opted for standard jug topics like catfishin' and wild women, and not-so-standard topics like Mall of America), but they certainly entertained the market-goers with their energy and genuine appreciation for down home jug music. A young couple in the small audience couldn't help but start dancing.

The market's coordinator, so impressed by the performance and the audience reaction, even hinted at the possible return of the Como Avenue Jug Band to the Market stage. Who knows where this may lead? There's a lot of farmer's markets in this town, and it might just be a short time until "jug life" sweeps through the Cities, and that would be great.

Taylor Carik is tcarik[at]gmail.com