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The Jug Huffers taking mountain music to TRF

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Mountain music

WHAT: The Jug Huffers will perform their mountain music during a Three Rivers Festival concert also featuring local band Atomic Sharks and headliner the Tim Harrington Band.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Festival Plaza in Headwaters Park, Clinton and Superior streets

COST: $2, or free with a TRF button

INFORMATION: For more about The Jug Huffers, go to www.jughuffers.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheJugHuffers.

NOTE: The Jug Huffers also will perform at noon Thursday during Lunch on the Square at One Summit Square in downtown Fort Wayne.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 6:42 am

You can hear what band member Jeff Burdek calls "the only jug band rap song in the world" when The Jug Huffers play "Banjo Love" Wednesday evening at the Three Rivers Festival in Headwaters Park.

"We try to keep it upbeat, lively and fun," Burdek said of the mountain music band's shows. "We like to interact with the audience if we can."

That includes inviting fans to use kazoos to play along on "Banjo Love."

"We are going for a time and feel of when people didn't have a lot of money, but they made music anyway," Burdek added.

The Fort Wayne band also will perform at Lunch on the Square at noon-1:30 p.m. Thursday downtown at One Summit Square.

The Jug Huffers formed about two years ago after a bluegrass band Burdek played in broke up, he said.

He had started looking for new people to form a band. Then he found himself at the spring Tri-State Bluegrass Festival in Kendallville with his wife, Gayle Goodrich, who has acted and sung in local theater.

She recently had started playing tenor guitar, and they had a lot of fun playing together, Burdek recalled. So he called up a couple of friends to see if they were interested in playing with them, and the band was formed.

Along with Burdek and Goodrich, The Jug Huffers includes Brett Darrough and new member Matt Lovell. Lovell replaces original member Eric Lauterbach, who left town to follow his wife to her job.

All of them have day jobs: Burdek is a computer programmer, Goodrich is director of labor and community services for United Way of Allen County, and Darrough and Lovell are teachers.

Lauterbach sort of inspired the band's homespun approach, dressing in unusual clothes, Burdek said. He also taught them to play old-time instruments, such as the washboard and jaw harp.

As the band's name suggests, they blow on the tops of jugs to get a bass beat on some songs. During a show, the audience also may see them play spoons, a wood saw and their own invention, the suitcase drum.

"We like to use found and homemade instruments as much as we can," Burdek said.

The suitcase drum not only works, it's also functional. They created a stand to hold the suitcase in place while a band member uses a traditional bass drum foot pedal to beat it. When the show's over, the stand and foot pedal come apart and go in the suitcase, along with other items, for the trip home.

The band has released two albums, "Good 'Nuff Fer Ewe" in May 2013 and "Bad. Ass." last month. The new CD includes 12 original songs and one traditional one.

The Jug Huffers write about a third to a half of the songs they play, Burdek said.

Despite their music drawing frowns from some traditional bluegrass purists, The Jug Huffers typically perform four to six times a month at events, bluegrass festivals and small venues in northeast Indiana, Ohio and southern Michigan, Burdek said.

"We stay pretty busy," he added.