Bones Jugs: Don't Waste A Drop

Bones Jugs: Don't Waste A Drop

I try to cover local artists because we have such a wealth of talent in this town. From hip-hop to funk, bluegrass to metal, we have a diverse and high-quality music scene. Artists from CU also tend to reference their appreciation for the city in their music, acknowledging the town's place as a crossroads. 

One of the rising stars in this culture is Bones Jugs (formerly Bones Jugs N' Harmony). I could try and define their music to you, but it kind of defies traditional labels. If I had to describe it, I would say it's a mixture of ragtime and folk with calypso elements thrown in, with the occasional kazoo. But rather than read what I have to say about it, how about hearing from the source? Co-songwriter Cody Jensen was nice enough to say a few words about the upcoming album release show on the 30th for their newest album, 'Don't Waste A Drop'.

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AH: "To me, the title 'Don't Waste A Drop' says live life while you can, and enjoy yourself. Was that planned or is that just a happy coincidence?"

CJ: "If that's what it says to you then that was the intent! From our perspective though, 'Don't Waste a Drop' started as a pretty simple song about whiskey. Good whiskey is expensive, and a little bit goes a long way. The more we thought about that phrase though, the more we realized it could be more than a drinking song (although that element remains). It is a self-contradictory ode to frugality and indulgence. The word indulgence often has negative connotations around it, but it doesn't have to. I think indulgences are a part of living life to the fullest, as you pointed out."  

AH: "If I recall correctly, last time we spoke there had been some lineup changes. How did that affect the writing process of this new record?"  

CJ: "The writing process for this album has been ongoing since early 2015, after we released 'The Party's in the Kitchen'. We've had some lineup changes in that time, so we made sure to feature players that were involved in the writing process on certain tunes for the album. By using a mix of current and past members in the recording process, as well as some special guests, most tracks have a slightly different ensemble of instruments and players. Broader themes and the overall sound are pretty consistent though, making what I think is a cohesive album."  

AH: "When were these songs written? Was it a studio-intensive situation or more of a write-on-the-road type of situation?"

CJ: "We started writing these songs in early 2015, and they trickled out for about 8 months.  By the fall, we started making plans for recording, and the trickle became a deluge.  Just about half the album was written and workshopped in the last few months of the year.  We play an average of 130 shows a year, so we don't have too much time off to focus solely on writing.  I wouldn't say its quite "writing on the road," more like taking every opportunity at home to keep creating.  For quite a while, our writing process has generally followed a format.  Charlie and I are the main songwriters, and typically one of us will bring in a tune that is in skeletal (bones) form, and then we workshop it as a group to flesh it out.  In rare instances, one of us would present a song to the group as basically a finished product.  With Don't Waste a Drop though, we did a lot more co-writing.  One of us would have a really basic idea (maybe one or two bones), then the two of us together would build the skeleton, still finishing with group sessions to bring the songs to life.  That process was really successful, and we'll definitely keep doing that in the future!"

AH: "Are all of these tracks new material, or have some of them been played live before?"

CJ: "Some of the older songs on the album have been played live before, but we made a conscious effort to withhold many of the songs until the album release. That way, when we begin touring on 'Don't Waste a Drop', it feels fresh and we're really excited about the material!"

AH: "There's some love for CU in this album in the song 'Black Dog'. How has being in this music scene affected your growth as a band and your approach to the music?"

CJ: "We definitely love CU and the music scene here. There is another, somewhat less overt, reference to local culture in the song 'Ain't No Monday'. We're regulars at the Urbana Hootenanny on Monday nights at the Rose Bowl Tavern, which is a wonderful gathering of acoustic musicians. Although the acoustic music sub-scene is perhaps most fitting for us, we've been lucky enough to be included on a wide array of show bills and festivals (Folk and Roots, Pygmalion, Summer Camp). I've heard some people claim that a scene is "good" if it's big, or stylistically homogenous, but to me, its the diversity of the scene in CU that makes it so interesting."

AH: "I couldn't agree more. Is there anything big coming up that you'd like to tell fans about?"

CJ: "We are thrilled to be playing at Summer Camp Music Festival for the third time this year.  Another third, we'll be hosting the third annual Bonesstock, which is our very own one day mini-fest right here in CU.  We'll be announcing more details on that soon!  As always, stay up-to-date on our shows, news, music, etc. at bonesjugs.com."

If you're a fan of our local music scene, make sure you come out to the Accord for the 'Don't Waste A Drop' release party. Details can be found at the website, as mentioned above. Bones Jugs is an experience unlike any other. They will surprise you at every turn, and you'll leave wondering where all the time went and wishing it was still going. Hopefully I'll see you all there!

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