Tox Tunes #20: Cocaine Habit Blues (Memphis Jug Band)

May 30, 2010, 1:01 pm

The Memphis Jug Band recorded in the 1920s and 30s with an ever-changing line-up of musicians and instruments, usually including a liquor jug used as a wind instrument to supply the bass line.  According to the Black Media Archive, the personnel on this track included Will Shade (harmonica), Tee Wee Blackman (guitar), Ben Ramey (kazoo), Ham Lewis (jug), and Hattie Hart (vocals). The lyrics use few words to limn an evocative portrait of the role of cocaine in certain communities in the early 20th century.  Version of “Cocaine Habit Blues” were recorded by Leadbelly, The Byrds, Old Crow Medicine Show, and others.

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