The Tennessee Mafia Jug band has been called the most entertaining “blast from the past” to ever pluck a string. With impressive individual credentials, this band of artists is rooted in tradition, but with innovative branches. The group is set to release its fifth studio album, Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge.
It is a special project for the band, one that’s been long planned and meticulously created. Writing and recording took a backseat when founding member “Lonesome” Lester Armistead, father of guitarist/singer Mike Armistead, was diagnosed with cancer. The amiable senior Armistead with the piercing tenor lost his battle in early 2014 and it is in his memory that the new album tips a hat.
In the wake of his passing, the band became more determined to see to fruition the project that would pay homage to Lester, band also present well-crafted songs rooted in the great traditions of Country, Folk/Roots, Bluegrass and Americana music.
Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge also happens to be a real place situated in the hills of Goodlettsville, Tenn., that Lester held dear. Son, Mike Armistead, now owns and maintains the lounge, a former general store, where many a jam session has been held with some of the most iconic names in music participating … “just friends” to the members of this band.
“Lonesome Lester always carried a smile, a helping hand, a joke at the ready and was always first to offer a drink to a friend dropping by at the Lounge,” said Mike Armistead.
Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge was recorded as in the “good ol’ days” with analog tape at Fry Pharmacy in Old Hickory, Tennessee. The Fry Pharmacy is an “open-air” studio; it has no control room. The engineers and equipment work right alongside artists in the tracking room. The album includes special musical guest appearances by Marty Stuart, “Handsome” Harry Stinson, Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Kayton Roberts, George Harper and album producer, Eric Heatherley.
“We just wanted to make the best album possible,” guitarist, Mike Armistead says. “Whatever the song called for, whether drums, lap steel, bells, whistles or fireworks, we just put everything into each song with the jug band flavor and respect for the song.”
Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge has 14 “official” tracks filled with rib-tickling old-time tunes as well as some new ones including, the title track “Lester’s Loafin Lounge,” one of three tunes written by the Jug Band’s own Mike Webb.
A bonus 15th track is included as a special gift for fans and longtime friends of the band. Stumbled across in the archives, this work-in-progress is a demo of a song that “Lonesome” Lester had been working on years ago.
The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band is a 2014 recipient of the TRAILBLAZER AWARD at Uncle Dave Macon Days. The award is bestowed on artists for contributions to old-time music and in recognition of performance and preservation of traditional music. Additionally, Uncle Dave Macon Days organizers have reinstated the jug band competition, which had been discontinued several years prior. The competition returned this year as part of the annual old time music festival and the award is now named for Lester A. Armistead, who was well-known and beloved among Bluegrass, Acoustic and Americana artists.
The band holds the distinction of being the only guest band to appear on every season of Marty Stuart’s popular and long-running show on the RFD-TV network.
The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band is banjoist and songster Leroy Troy; award-winning fiddler Dan Kelly; bass fiddle player Ernie Sykes, who has the distinction of being the final bass player in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys; guitar player and vocalist, Mike Armistead; and songwriter Mike Webb, who plays the resonator guitar and also plays old time banjo and rhythm guitar.
Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge is set for release July 24, 2015. The band will celebrate the release with a performance on Saturday, July 25th at Nashville’s legendary Station Inn. The public concert starts at 9pm.
1. Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge
2. Fryin’ Pan
3. I’m My Own Grandpa
4. Count Me Out
5. You Don’t Have To Be Present to Win
6. Grey Eagle
7. Bridge Washed Out
8. Hillbilly Logic
9. Wood and Strings
10. Mansion on a Hill
11. Old Slew Foot
12. One Old Shirt
13. Trombone Rag
14. Lonesome, Onry and Mean
15. BONUS TRACK