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South Austin Jug Band reunion will focus on energetic early years

Brian T. Atkinson

South Austin Jug Band's self-titled debut (2004) and "Dark and Weary World" (2005) launched a wildly popular but short-lived run. Expect spotlights on those early high points as the energetic bluegrass band reunites with its original lineup Aug. 5 at Threadgill's South.

"Basically, our set list (will) pull mainly from the first two years, but we'll throw in some later stuff," bassist Will Dupuy says. "We've all been writing on our own and it would be cool to work that in at some point."

American-Statesman: Describe your most memorable early show.

Will Dupuy: We entered a band competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colo., and we won the contest. That opened all kinds of doors. They had us back the next year (and) that was a big selling point because that gave us some credibility. It was like, "Hey, we're doing this right. This is legitimate and something we can pursue."

Things took off pretty quickly, right?

Yeah, once we got the ball rolling, we got all this buzz and opened for Lyle Lovett at the Backyard and got a booking agent and went on tour and essentially never stopped. None of us was married and we didn't have any kids. My dad bought us a Suburban and in four years we put 300,000 miles on it. We came up at an opportune time for the bluegrass and jam band thing. String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic were real big nationally and the "O Brother" (soundtrack) came out. There was a bit of a resurgence.

You've said you guys were trying to take over the world.

Completely. We were trying to get as big as we could get. You realize as you get older that there were a lot of things that we could've done to make ourselves more commercially successful. We weren't mature enough to say, "Hey, we need to run this like a business and not like a rolling circus."

You left the band before the last album (2008's ‘Strange Invitation'). Why?

We were growing apart musically and I had a tipping point. We stopped being this party band and were getting away from our roots and what people enjoyed about us. I had just gotten married. That didn't have anything to do with it, but I couldn't leave my future in that band's hands. I had to make a living, and I was maturing, and I ended up quitting because I didn't see any way to get everybody back on the same page.

What was the main issue?

We'd been in so long, our communication was awful always. We never said, "Hey, I'm mad at you. We need to talk." We would just let things boil over and somebody would have an outburst. It was just like, "This ship is sinking."

Explain this reunion at Threadgill's.

We're doing this show as the original lineup of the South Austin Jug Band. We're trying to recapture that era when it was still fresh and new and fun. We've all had the chance to let the whole thing breathe and see the forest for the trees. Now, it's refreshing to get together with the guys and play these songs.

Do you expect to play more gigs with this lineup?

Yeah, we're going to see how it goes. Everybody's super busy with other things. This isn't something that we'll pursue as a full-time deal, but if everyone feels good about it, there's no reason we couldn't. We're taking it one thing at a time right now.

South Austin Jug Band