EILEEN WEST GALLERY
CONTEMPORARY AND OUTSIDER ART
FRANKO "WASHBOARD" JACKSON HISTORY
Jugband History of Franko "Washboard" Jackson
In the late sixties and early seventies, our government was sending boys off to die by the thousands.
Vietnam means little to society now, evidence the snearing scorn for "hippies". Little is said anymore about the courage it took to stand up to your government, but many did and still do. Back then it was a matter of life or death.
If you did not want to kill or be killed, you had to resist. It takes a huge amount of strength to be gentle.
Out on the farm at EastWind Community in Lick Creek Missouri, Jackson made good friends who influence his life still. This is Dan pulling Franko's hippy hair up so you can see his face. This is where his name changed to Franko. There was already a Frank there. It has served him well as he becomes Frank O'Jackson on St Patrick's Day and on the 4th of July he's always Franko American.
There was probably a lot of this going on too:
And in the long evenings out in the country after the chores were done, he was introduced to the music that would compel him to play.
People making great music on handmade instruments. Music accessible to anyone who wanted to play badly enough. And the music was about what was going on in the city life. The sound was different. Not like anything he'd heard before and he had loved and listened to music since he was old enough to turn on the radio by his bed. (His big sister Cindy had turned him onto James Brown) But, this music was made with homemade stuff and yet had a sophisticated syncopation that spoke to a wannabe percussionist heart.
Jackson did what he needed to do.
Listening night after night to the Memphis Jug Band, Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, Washboard Rhythm Kings, and Washboard Sam:
he determined to make music on what he could make himself.
He had a great role model.
When he was a child, his mother had played music on an upright piano painted hot pink. She also made instruments out of plastic combs and cellophane, paper towel tubes (a Phenorton), toilet paper tubes (a DerDer), and an assortment of pots and pans and wooden spoons. Franko and his three siblings danced and played and music was big fun. His mom still plays kazoo (1st Chair Kazowist) in band at the local nursing home by where she lives.
He wrote a song about it too. And loves his mom very much. They talk every day. That's a portrait I did for her on the floor.
But it was his sweet sister Cindy that caused him to leave the commune. She was about to have her first baby in New Orleans and
they are very close. He packed a bag and hitch-hiked to the Delta. This is actually a picture of Franko's friend on another hitch-hiking adventure, but I like the narrative.
So Angela was born and Franko decided to have a look around New Orleans.
He picked up a copy of the TIMES PICAYUNE and was surprised to find an ad for WASHBOARD PLAYER WANTED.
He's quoted in the story on his bio page with details. This is a pictorial history, so this is the first picture I have of the first jugband,
THE BAD OYSTER BAND
A mild mannered group who needed some street creds, Franko worked well.
He called himself the "token hippy."
They were playing all over the place.
And he never went back to the commune.
WASHBOARD JACKSON AND THE HOTDAMN JUGBAND
To be continued
39" x 10" x 7.5" Deep
Diorama with clay figures.
850.502.1847 / 850.225.3024