Arts Listings

Americana Music and ‘An Irish Christmas’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:57:00 AM
Maria Muldaur plays at the Freight and Salvage on Friday.
Maria Muldaur plays at the Freight and Salvage on Friday.

Maria Muldaur, “interpreter of Americana music since long before that genre even had a name,” and an unusual highlight, An Irish Christmas in America, grace the Freight and Salvage Coffee House this Friday and Sunday at their new downtown location on Addison Street. 

“Maria will be hawking her new CD with the same title as her show,” said Lisa Manning of The Freight, commenting on Friday’s show of Maria Muldaur and Her Garden of Joy Jug Band, a true reunion of where the Bay Area singer came from, at least into popular awareness.   

The album includes appearances by John Sebastian and David Grisman—both members of the Even Dozen Jug Band, which Maria joined at the behest of blues singer Victoria Spivey, who recorded the group on her own label in ’60s New York. Other favorites on the record include Taj Mahal, Berkeley fiddler extraordinaire Suzy Thompson and the late Fritz Richmond. 

Richmond was a jug and washtub bass player with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, the Boston-based recording group Maria joined after the Even Dozen folded. (As a teenaged groundsworker, this writer recalls, with exhilaration, Maria’s performance of her first hit, “I’m a Woman,” both campy and impassioned, with the Jug Band on Mt. Tamalpais at the Magic Mountain Festival in 1967.)  

After a stint as a duo act with her then-husband Geoff (from Kweskin’s Jug Band), Maria put out her famed platinum hit, “Midnight at the Oasis,” going on to immerse herself in roots music, recording duets with Dr. John, and garnering a nomination for the W. C. Handy Award.  

Her 1999 “Meet Me Where They Play the Blues,” featured the last recorded appearance of the great (and longtime East Bay resident) crooner-pianist, Charles Brown.  

For her show, Maria will be joined by her new discovery, also on the album, ragtime guitarist Kit Stovepipe, the Gallus Brothers, Devin Champlin and Lucas Hicks from the Crow Quill Night Owls. In addition, there’ll be some new tunes penned especially by Dan Hicks of Hot Licks notoriety. 

In “a nice kickoff for the holidays,” according to Manning, Sunday’s An Irish Christmas in America will feature Sligo fiddler Oisin MacDiarnada and bodhian player Tristan Rosenstock from Teada, Kerry singer and accordionist Seamus Begley, young dancer Brian Cunningham, harper Grinne Hambly and uilleann bagpiper Tommy Martin.  

“It’s their third year doing this,” said Manning, “and it’s charming and well put together, with storytelling and different kinds of entertainment between, singing, dancing and playing. A wide array of entertainment, truly something for all ages. I’m encouraging my parents to come. With the liveliness of the music and the mixture of the show, kids can hang with it. It’s both interactive and intimate. It’s like an Irish village shares its holiday with you. Some of the lore, like Wren Boys at the New Year, was news to me.” 

A CD of An Irish Christmas in America is available at the show. 


Maria Muldaur’s  

Garden of Joy Jug Band 

8 p.m. Friday 



An Irish Christmas in America 

8 p.m. Sunday 



Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St.