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Rootstone: News

Thankful for a Great 2013 - November 27, 2013

It's been awhile since we've written anything here, but we're still at it in fits and starts, keeping the primitive musical traditions of rural America alive. Thanks to Virginia Commission for the Arts we've been fortunate to perform all across Virginia in 2013, and look forward to visiting more places next year.

We have made some headway on a recording project and hope to get back around to completing it in the coming months, once we have the tape machine back in working order.

Our most recent shows were on Virginia's eastern shore, including a performance in the beautiful Palace Theatre in Cape Charles, VA. Here's a video from the November 16th show of us playing a tune we learned from the great Memphis Jug Band. It may be Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some 'Peaches in the Springtime'! Have a drink, and enjoy:

Midsummer 2012 Update - July 17, 2012

Howdy Friends,

We've been criss-crossing the great state of Virginia over the past few weeks, braving the summer heat to entertain great audiences from Franklin County, to Virginia's Northern Neck, to Northern Virginia. We hope to have news on recording progress in the next few weeks. In the meantime, please enjoy some videos of our 7/11/12 show in Annandale, Virginia. Thanks to Virginia Commission for the Arts for supporting many of our out of town performances.

Old Jim Cannan, learned from Robert Wilkins 1935 recording.

I Got a Bulldog - Ernest Stoneman & the Sweet Brothers great 'lost' record of 1928.

Bay Rum Blues,a late prohibition era number learned from Gwen Foster & Clarence Ashley's 1933 recording.

Two Videos Up from 5/15/11 at Studio Roanoke - May 20, 2011

Thanks, Ron Bergeron and Star City Fame for coming out to our show on the 15th and shooting video.

Here are two videos from the show. We hope you'll be there in person next time!

First, our slow drag take on Memphis Jug Band's 'Peaches in the Springtime'.

And 'Bootlegger's Blues' from the great Mississippi Sheiks

Season's Greetings From Rootstone - December 9, 2010

Thanks for your support. We hope to offer you much more music in the years to come.

NRJB Epitaph - Download for Free - August 22, 2010

It's been a bit over three years since New Roanoke Jug Band completed their final album WHEN MY TIME ON EARTH IS DONE.

These eighteen tracks captured the group at it's very best. Two previous releases had leaned heavily on guest stars (but what a cast of guest stars-Mac Traynham, Kirk Sutphin, Kinney Rorrer, Rusty May, Russell Harbaugh, and Jim Barnhill). This recording shows the band, on it's own (well, we used two bass players, since Andrew Thomas was in town and available when Jeff Hofmann wasn't) taking aim at something too daring for most - interpreting some of the most classic primitive gospel tunes ever recorded.

From now until the end of the month you can download this album free from or listen here :
<a href="">Lord I Don't Want To Die In The Storm by New Roanoke Jug Band</a>.

We hope to have many more new offerings from Rootstone Jug Band and Rootstone Sheiks to share with you in the near future.

Midsummer 2010 Update - July 13, 2010

We spent much of the winter making improvements to our studio and undoing the haphazard way we moved in 2.5 years ago. The warmer months saw us get down to doing what we love best : playing music. We got heated up with a couple good runs of shows in June, and are excited to bring it to Floyd Fest 2010 with an early (10:30am saturday) show in the Dance Tent. After that, we'll be recording and lining up shows for the rest of summer and the fall.

And, oh yeah, if you care to know what we're up to or thinking about on a more regular basis, you can follow us on twitter here.

2009 is nearly gone. What's Ahead? - December 10, 2009

Thanks to those of you who came out to the show last Saturday.  It's great to play a room and know you're in capable hands, and Gary Jackson makes sure any act on the Kirk Avenue Music Hall stage sounds their best. It's great to have a room in Roanoke where music fans can really get to hear what they're paying for - and if it costs a couple dollars extra for the experience, few will dispute that it's well worth it. Kirk Ave's profits from beverage sales are donated to the Music Lab at Jefferson Center. Alcohol sales do not aid their bottom line; they support music education for the community's youth. We hope our friends who haven't had a chance to check out this venue yet will check out a show there soon.

Rootstone Jug Band is going back in the studio to keep honing our single mic recording technique. We'll be sharing some results before the end of the year We're digging back to the old mode of production and taking the time to make sure our performance does justice to the song.  Each time it gets a little better so we reconvene and do it again. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers  recorded over 150 takes of 'Refugee', so we won't dwell too much on a dozen or more takes of 'Stir It Gal'.  We're working up a version of The Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers' 'Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn' and will release it as a Christmas single if we can complete it in time.

We hope all of you reading this are well and ready to enjoy the upcoming holiday season with your loved ones. If you have a moment and haven't already done so, please sign up for email updates at We are looking forward to much more musical activity in 2010, both by Rootstone Jug Band and our other configurations.  We are honored to have your support.  If you promise to spread the word, we'll keep the good things happening here and let you know about it first, okay?

Best Wishes,


December 5th Show!! - December 1, 2009

Greetings from Rootsone HQ here in the Star City. The unseasonably warm fall is yielding to the coming season, but Rootstone Jug Band is going to heat it up this Saturday night at Kirk Avenue Music Hall.

Since you last heard from us we've been holed up in the woodshed, working out some new material and recording some of your favorites. It has been quite a journey to discover that the best way to capture this band is LIVE. One mic, no effects. Just the five of us giving that tune everything we've got. We'll have that same mic with us Saturday, and we want YOU to be there.

We have a limited number of discounted tickets available for the show. If you want to claim yours, email: with the Subject: SATURDAY NIGHT.

Kirk Avenue's piano is tuned up and we'll be turning Sam loose as the whole gang gets rocking on a jug band version of Funny Papa Smith's "Honey Blues". We'll see you at the show!

Rootstone Jug Band awarded VCA 2010-11 Touring Grant - June 30, 2009

We received some good news yesterday. Virginia Commision for the Arts selected our very own Rootstone Jug Band for a touring grant. VCA presenters can apply for grant money to host a performance/program by the band. This is a great opportunity for us to reach audiences across Virginia, and we look forward to spreading our love of American Roots Music around.

2009 - January 11, 2009

We have been kicking off the new year by listening (some of us over and over and over) to Polk Miller and the Old South Quartette. Mr. Miller was a white musician who toured from 1892-1911 with an Afro-American Quartette, presenting audiences with a show depicting old times in the south. Half of the selections were recorded in 1909(!), and they are still captivating 100 years later.

We are pleased to announce that Rootstone Jug Band has begun work on an album to be completed in the first half of 2009. Stay tuned for details. We have added an outtake to the Music page here. We hope you will enjoy.

Check back for dates as they are added. There is much more primitive musical activity to come in 2009.

79 RPM Tour Diary #2 - October 17, 2008

79 RPM Tour Diary #2: The Road to Baltimore

The long awaited second entry of out 79RPM tour in October finds our jug band riding up US 301 in the mist into Maryland. We find the venue pretty easily, but not early enough to shop for records at the True Vine (what? a record store closing before 9PM on a friday?). We spend 50% of our proceeds before we even earned them, but the food at The Golden West Cafe was too tempting to resist. We negotiate the sound set up with the local act on the bill, an acoustic incarnation of the band Whale Show, whose excellent fiddler (she's probably a violinist - I hate to offend!) was filling in for her brother, who couldn't make the gig.

Our set felt a little more tense than the previous night, but we were lucky it happened at all. A planned 5 minute mission to move our van to a safe, legal location went awry quickly when we were faced with the choice of making a highly illegal u-turn or merging onto I-83 South and ending up...? We chose the u-turn, and got to spend some time talking to Baltimore's finest about their labyrinth like city. We parked the van, and on the way to the venue, a couple of roughnecks didn't like Sean's headband and threatened to make things even worse, but he performed some sort of voodoo mind magic on them that still mystifies - they were looking to beat him up and he had them walking away embarrassed in mere seconds. Ask him what he said. He wouldn't tell us.

We had initially planned to split the sets with Whale Show, but it seemed that the logistics of that would be too time consuming to do twice, so we played a long first set and a short second. It seemed like folks might not have seen too many bands crank up a tune with a bowed bass, washboard, harmonica, jug, kazoo, and some old style finger picking before. The folks in Richmond seemed pleasantly shocked. Baltimore was a bit more subdued, perhaps not sure what to make of our bunch of hayseeds. We cranked out another good show. When Jeff Hofmann gets that upright pumping, and Sam blows the harmonica with abandon, it's hard for the rest of the band to contain our excitement. Sean was obviously still feeling some adrenaline from the 'meathead incident' of a few minutes before - he played the washboard with even more vigor than usual. Scott continued the previous night's experiment by ad-libbing some verses, which John gamely chimed in on, even correctly predicting the resolution of the line..."really turn my damper down" in pluperfect, primitive harmony.

We had a good time meeting Uncle Dave Huber and the Whale Show gang. They are terrific musicians and really have their stuff down, even with a little different arrangement than usual. Baltimore was a place of culinary delight : our departure was delayed by a stop for grilled brie and strawberry jam sandwiches and gourmet fries from a street vendor near the venue. We finally pull out of town at 2am, with 150 miles and ten hours until we're due onstage in Leesburg on Saturday, for the job that paid enough to make the rest of the tour possible.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment, when the jug band tries to drink all of the coffee between Frederick, MD and Leesburg, VA...

79 RPM Tour Diary #1 - October 16, 2008

10.16.2008 After getting everyone on board the van (no easy feat at an early hour), we arrive at Camp Bethel and find hordes of kids, ready to move to the music. We unload a few cases and get right to it, some of us discovering that our voices sound different before noon. The kids are great - running, laughing and dancing is what kids are SUPPOSED to do! A great start to our 79 RPM tour. We are already happy and hungry.

We stop in Buchanan at the Family Style Restaurant. Everyone there seems shocked by us. Now, we may not look exactly like everybody else in the town, but we sure looked fishy to the folks in the restaurant. In the end we acquit ourselves admirably, (we finish all of our food, say please and thank you, and didn't skip out on our tab) and have a great drive across US 60 to Richmond. A detour to Sam Ash music went slightly awry, so time was tighter than we expected, but at least we score a second harp rack and a bunch of kazoos. We meet friends and get ready for our show, in the second slot of a triple bill at The Triple in Richmond with Cole Sullivan and The High Street Lowlifes. It's a great place to catch a show and shoot some pool, and we were ready to play.

The Jug Band engine got fired up, and folks were gasping at the primitive power we brought. "Oh my GAWD, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT" we heard one excited woman say. We played probably our best show ever - everything just clicked. Songs got stretched out a bit longer and it felt great. Sean's jug was finally mic'ed right and we all liked hearing it in the mix. Add to it the fact that our new washboard thumb protection system did the trick, and a full blown jug band juggernaut was unleashed right there Thursday night at The Triple. Many thanks to Scott's old W&M friend John Morris, and to Kelly Queener for their collective welcome and hospitality. A special shout out to Jonathan Ayer, who didn't just defy the odds being laid in the tour van, but shattered them by arriving, early, and armed with.........a JUKE BOX 45 copy of VAN HALEN - HOT FOR TEACHER! Friday we went record shopping, hung out with Kelly and feasted on eggs and potatoes, and readied for a rainy drive to Baltimore up US 301. We try and take back roads whenever we can. The rivers looked mysterious in the late afternoon mist.

Our next installment will chronicle the tasty town of Baltimore.

Emerging Artists - July 11, 2008

A big THANK YOU to all who came out to the library last night. The jug band spirit is contagious, and most of the attendees, and certainly the band, were having FUN, which is what a jug band is all about.

Please go by the library and soak in Joe Kelley's exhibit "A Natural History of Imaginary Birds and Real Bats". It runs through July.

The Emerging Artist events bring out a great mix of folks and we were delighted to be in such fine company. Cheers to the library staff for vision and dedication in putting on these events.

Please check back, as we will post some more music soon. If you have any pictures or video of us in action, we'd love to see it!

Quick Update - May 18, 2008

We are working on getting some shows scheduled for the rest of 2008. For the near future Rootstone Jug Band is going to be recording tracks. We'll share some results here when they are in!

Thanks for your support!

Strawberry Fest - May 3, 2008

Thanks to all who came out and supported the 28th Annual Strawberry Festival.

Rootstone Jug Band debuted our new 5 piece outfit at the show, featuring John Thompson on guitar and vocals and Sean Poff on washboard, jug and vocals. We followed a group who faithfully recreated classic radio hits. The throngs at Elmwood Park seemed to identify with our primitve jug band music! The hordes of dancing children out front really made our day (folks, there really isn't much better than seeing kids dancing in our book).

The event was a tremendous success. By day's end we were down to a half bucket of Strawberries - from over 5000 pints!

Community High School student bands got the show started off right. Pickin' Buds followed us to continue the acoustic leg of the entertainment. The Magic Twig Community brought The Missionaries, SUNKING! and The Young Sinclairs to bring the festival to successful and rocking close.

We could not have done it without everyone's support. Special thanks are in order for John McBroom and Eric the sound guy for a job well done!

New Harmonies - April 12, 2008

We're just back from a great trip to Hopewell, Virginia, where the Rootstone Jug Band played for New Harmonies. Many thanks to the staff of Appomattox Regional Library System for the invitation. The event staff, sound technicians, and AUDIENCE was outstanding. We especially enjoyed one boy's dancing. He seemed to understand exactly what we were doing.

Today marked the debut of John Thompson on washboard, guitar and harmony vocals. John stepped up to a challenge and, judging by the smiles and nodding heads from Scott, Sam and Jeff, he proved to be most worthy of it. We have taken to gathering around a single condenser microphone when we play - it seems to add a nice intimate touch and helps us focus on playing together.

It was great to meet (re-meet or really meet) members of The High Street Lowlifes from Petersburg, VA, and Sheryl Warner and the Southside Homewreckers.

Please come out and see what exciting things will be ahead for Rootstone.

Be Well.

The missing clipboard - March 26, 2008

If you find a clipboard somewhere between Grandin Village in Roanoke and Blacksburg it may be ours. We would really like to have it back. It contains a brand new song. Sam and Scott collaborated to write the lyrics and the melody borrows heavily from the great Blind Boy Fuller. Without giving away too much, the song may refer to fire in a few of the stanzas.

UPDATE: found on 4/5/2008! The new song has been revised and is now complete. We will likely debut it on May3 at the Strawberry Festival.

Back in Action - March 14, 2008

After too many weeks of tending to administrative details and not enough music, the Rootstone collective has gotten back to what we love the most: playing music!

Jeff, Sam and Scott filled the Second Hand Jug Band show last night. Our first set crowd was enjoying the good time tunes and feeling quite spirited. Many of them left at set break, and the second set crew needed something different: Sad Songs.

Our most upbeat & fun numbers left the set two audience at Annie Moore's mostly silent, but the sad songs really got their attention. Luckily we have plenty of sorrowful songs in the bag, so we gave the people what they wanted: music to cry into your beer by.

Star City Jug Band Update - February 4, 2008

Beginning in 2008 New Roanoke Jug Band will be on indefinite hiatus. Scott Baldwin, Jeff Hofmann and Sam Lunsford are continuing as the Rootstone Jug Band. In addition to playing banjo and guitar, Sam pulls double duty washboard and racked harmonica - that really gets a tune moving.

Jeff and Sam stay quite busy with other musical pursuits (in addition to day jobs), so Scott has also launched Second Hand Jug Band, an outfit with a rotating supporting cast. His regular mates will appear with SHJB on select dates, but the project is intended to have a flexible personnel makeup.

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