Christmas Jug Band

For the last 30 years the “kings of tongue-in-cheek, acoustic-skiffle-swing holiday hijinks” have brought mirth and merriment to the holidays as the Christmas Jug Band. Their legendary performances at the Sweetwater and other local venues, usually ending with dueling accordion battles atop the bar, have earned the respect of die-hard fans eager for a break from the usual holiday grind.

Formed in 1977 inside Mill Valley’s now defunct Old Mill Tavern, the band originally consisted of four local musicians: Tim Eschlimann (Etta James, Commander Cody), Nick and Duke Dewey (Country Joe & the Fish) and Paul Wenninger (road manager for Dan Hicks), who started the band on a lark. It wasn’t long before Hicks came aboard, as did Austin de Lone (Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello) and L. D. Armstrong (Rowdy and the Rivets). This incarnation of the band, which released the album Mistletoe Jam on Relix Records in 1987, kept the music interesting by forgoing cover songs and insisting its members play instruments they don’t specialize in.

Over the years, talented local musicians such as Lance Dickerson (Commander Cody), Paul Rogers (Those Darn Accordions) and Jim Rothermel (Van Morrison) have joined in the fun. The band’s current lineup includes Mike Duke, Maria Muldaur, Angela Streghli, Norton Buffalo and Dan Hicks, all of whom play on the band’s latest release, Uncorked.

The Christmas Jug Band performs at Mill Valley’s 142 Throckmorton Theater (December 5), at Larkspur’s Sweetwater Station for an all-ages show (December 7), at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage (December 16), at Petaluma’s Mystic Theater (December 19) and at Mill Valley’s Masonic Hall (December 20 and 21).