Gus Cannon - Honoring Black History

Gustavus "Gus" Cannon (1883 or 1884 – 1979) was an American blues musician who helped to popularize jug bands (such as his own Cannon's Jug Stompers) in the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 12 he taught himself to play a banjo that he made from a frying pan and a raccoon skin. Soon after, guitarist Alec Lee taught Cannon his first folk blues, "Po' Boy, Long Ways from Home", and showed him how to use a knife blade as a slide, a technique that Cannon adapted to his banjo playing. Cannon began recording as Banjo Joe for Paramount Records in 1927. After the success of the Memphis Jug Band's first records, he quickly assembled a jug band, Cannon's Jug Stompers. The group was first recorded at the Memphis Auditorium for Victor Records in January 1928. Although their last recordings were made in 1930, Cannon's Jug Stompers were one of Beale Street's most popular jug bands through the 1930s. Cannon made a few recordings for Folkways Records in 1956. During the blues revival of the 1960s, he made some appearances at colleges and coffee houses with Furry Lewis and Bukka White, and recorded an album for Stax Records in 1963.