Jug band weekend in The City

Who knew jug band music was so big in Japan?

Independent filmmaker Todd Kwait certainly didn’t, at least not until he took the advice of washtub bassist and jug player virtuoso Fritz Richmond and headed off to the land of the rising sun to see it for himself.

Kwait, writer and director of the documentary “Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost” — which screens during this weekend’s Jug Band Festival in San Francisco — made a deathbed promise of sorts to the legendary musician that he would visit Japan and capture the country’s fondness for all things jug in his attempt to chronicle the music’s history.

“It was jaw-dropping. Everything Fritz said was absolutely true,” says Kwait. “[The Japanese] really knew everything about the history of jug band music and it was shocking, but nice to see.”

Even if it was in a distant land, it was gratifying for Kwait to witness the appreciation of American jug band music.

Kwait’s documentary, “Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost,” sets out to give a long-overdue history lesson about the genre and pay respect to the jug band artists who influenced folk, jazz and blues music.

As part of San Francisco’s Jug Band Festival weekend — Mayor Gavin Newsom has officially declared it such — “Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost” screens Saturday at the Roxie New College Film Center. Other events include a free all-day concert Saturday in Golden Gate Park and a show Sunday at the Great American Music Hall with John Sebastian, Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin.

Kwait, a businessman and lawyer by day, toyed with different film ideas for a number of years but settled on creating a jug band documentary after he realized even he knew little about the music that influenced such notable artists as the Grateful Dead and the Lovin’ Spoonful. So he reached out to Sebastian, founder of the Lovin’ Spoonful, and began to work on the documentary.

“I really did chase the ghost of these wonderful performers,” says Kwait. “I was lucky enough to find that not only did they inspire the groups I love and grew up with in the ’60s and ’70s, but that there’s still life to this whole thing. My hope is that maybe their contributions will have the opportunity to finally be recognized.”

San Francisco Jug Band Festival

Jug Band Concert

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Band shell, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Tickets: Free

‘Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost’ screening

Where: Roxie New College Film Center, 3117 16th St., San Francisco

When: 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $8

John Sebastian, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin

Where: Great American Music Hall, 850 O’Farrell St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $28 to $30

Contact: jugfest.org

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A server greets diners in a Shared Spaces outdoor dining area outside Napper Tandy’s Irish pub at 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue in the Mission District on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. San Francisco could choose to resume outdoor dining in the wake of a state decision to lift a regional stay-at-home order. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders lifted as ICU capacity improves

Change in rules could allow outdoor dining to resume in San Francisco

A statue of Florence Nightingale outside the Laguna Honda Hospital is one of only two statues of women in The City. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
S.F. still falling short of goal to represent women in public art

City has few streets or public facilities not named after men

Methamphetamines (Sophia Valdes/SF Weekly)
New search launched for meth sobering center site

Pandemic put project on pause but gave health officials time to plan a better facility

Hasti Jafari Jozani quarantines at her brother's San Francisco home after obtaining several clearances to study at San Francisco State University. (Photo courtesy Siavash Jafari Jozani)
Sanctions, visas, and the pandemic: One Iranian student’s bumpy path to SF State

Changing immigration rules and travel restrictions leave some overseas students in limbo

Woody LaBounty, left, and David Gallagher started the Western Neighborhoods Project which has a Balboa Street office housing historical items and comprehensive website dedicated to the history of The City’s West side. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Outside Lands podcast delves into West side’s quirky past

History buffs Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher have been sharing fun stories about the Richmond and Sunset since 1998

Most Read