28 June 2017

Skiffle Music


Skiffle is a type of popular music with jazz, blues, folk, roots and country influences, usually using homemade or improvised instruments. Originating as a term in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, it became popular again in the UK in the 1950s, where it was mainly associated with musician Lonnie Donegan.

The origins of skiffle are obscure, but are generally thought to lie in African-American musical culture in the early twentieth century with improvised "jug bands." They played a mix of blues and jazz and used instruments such as the washboard, jugs, tea chest bass, cigar-box fiddle, musical saw, and comb-and-paper kazoos, as well as more conventional instruments such as acoustic guitar and banjo.

In the U.S., this was often called "jug band music" but in the U.K., "skiffle" was the label used.


The term "skiffle" was one of many slang phrases for a rent party, a social event with a small charge designed to pay rent on a house or building (sometimes the club where the musicians performed).

The first skiffle recordings were made in Chicago in the 1920s. The first use of the term on record was in 1925 in the name of Jimmy O'Bryant and his Chicago Skifflers.

A number of country blues records had titles like "Hometown Skiffle" (1929), and "Skiffle Blues" (1946) by Dan Burley and His Skiffle Boys.

The term and style of music faded from usage in the 1940s with the advent of Big Band music.

1957 John Lennon (center) and the Quarrymen

A revival occurred after WWII in the UK and  in the late 1950s there were many skiffle groups in Britain. It became a starting place and training ground for a number of musicians who would find fame in rock and roll in the 1960s.



An early incarnation of The Beatles was The Quarrymen which started as a skiffle band.



Other rockers who strated in skiffle groups include Van Morrison, Alexis Korner, Ronnie Wood, Alex Harvey, Mick Jagger; Roger Daltrey, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Robin Trower, Dave Gilmour, Graham Nash and Alan Clarke.


For comparison, here is Lonnie Donegan performing "Rock Island Line"
live on "Putting on the Donegan" June 1961



and then listen to "Rock Island Line" performed solo first by Paul McCartney
and then in a different style by John Lennon.



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  1. Anonymous7/21/2010

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