An Unlikely Valentine’s Serenade

An Unlikely Valentine's Serenade

Jaime Coyne

Last Saturday, February 14, the Barge Saturday Nite Music Series in collaboration with the Colgate Activities Board celebrated Valentine’s Day at the Barge Canal Coffee Co. by presenting the Genesee Jug Sliders. A band of self-proclaimed “delta style and early blues style” music, they were perhaps not the obvious choice for this commercially romantic day. Imagine couples taking a romantic stroll down Lebanon Street, songs about whiskey and dogs pulsating out of the Barge’s front window. It admittedly felt just a little out of place.

Hailing from Rochester, N.Y., the Genesee Jug Sliders consist of three men on the harmonica, cello and acoustic guitar. The band has weekly jams on Thursdays in Rochester and seemed truly appreciative of blues music. As one band member explained, “What’s fun about blues is that it’s only three chords, so it’s fun to jam.” They were very comfortable in their setting, describing the event as “a living room jam.” They thanked the audience for coming out to see them because “otherwise it would be a practice session.”

The Genesee Jug Sliders promised to “keep it clean,” as the Barge was “not a bar.” They immediately seemed to have kept their promise, as they performed a song reminiscent of Disney’s The Jungle Book, often repeating, “You’ll never find another friend like me.” Several of the other songs they played were by Mississippi John Hurt, a musician to which they dedicate their weekly blues jams. Included in the Hurt covers was “When I Laid My Burden Down.”

Additionally, they played “a more modern tune,” a cover of “Fever.” Originally sung by Peggy Lee, “Fever” has been covered by everyone from Elvis to Michael Bublé. It is always interesting to listen to songs transform across genres, and this was no exception. The Genesee Jug Sliders’ final song was an instrumental dedicated to a storm coming off Lake Ontario.

While the Genesee Jug Sliders’ concert was a show of generally well performed music, the night was permeated with confusion. A little while before the performance began, the Barge staff ran around taking out extra chairs, seeming quite anxious about the task. At the time, there wasn’t even a row of completely filled seats. There remained an abundance of empty chairs all night. Yet the staff set the tone, and throughout the concert, a sudden swarm of excited fans seemed imminent.

Additionally, the band was perhaps a little too comfortable in their setting. At one point, a band member qualified that his statements were, “just a little edu-ma-cation,” but many of the band’s comments seemed to be whole conversations that they were having among themselves that were not interpretable to the audience. It would have been nice to be included, rather than just catching mumbled side comments.

The Genesee Jug Sliders proved themselves to be skillful blues musicians. Anyone interested in blues music would thoroughly enjoy their concerts. Still, a little Frank Sinatra or even central New York’s own Jared Campbell would have been a more appropriate Valentine’s Day-speed.