Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Jim Kweskin once headed a popular jug band that carried his name and featured Geoff and Maria Muldaur, Bill Keith and a few others who have gone on to varying levels of success and fame.
Kweskin, who appeared in a solo concert at the Childe Harold Sunday night, is making something of a comeback after years of absence from both the recording and concert scenes. It is a most welcome return.
Kweskin is a superb interpreter, particularly of material drawn from the '30s and '40s, much of it marked by gentle melodies and sweetly naive and innocent lyrics ("Sleepy Time Gal," "Blue Skies," "Swinging on a Star," "Java Jive").
Kwesking draws comfortably from composers as dissimilar as Irving Berlin and Woody Guthrie, bridging stylistics gaps by whittling his music down to essentials. He is a fine guitar and banjo player, with an engaging and honest voice. He is also a charismatic performer who can either borrow like Shel Silverstein, or from his own from a contemporary comic writer fervent imagination to engage his audience in sing-alongs, clap-alongs and the like.
Much of Kweskin's repertoire is eclectic, drawn from jug bands, song revues and Broadway tunes from between the Great World War and the last World War. It is a tribute to his projection and personality that unfamiliar songs almost always find a home in an audience's smiling heart by the time he is finished with them. Kweskin is not a revivalist. He is simply a song weaver working with mostly older threads.