Skip Navigation

end of KET nav
About the Series | KY Life Host | Paw Pals | Contact/DVD Info
Program 1108

1. the Juggernaut Jug Band
2. knifemaker Gil Hibben
3. the Lexington Public Library ceiling clock
Watch the Program (Windows Media® or
RealPlayer® format)
Season 11 Menu

Jefferson County

For more information:

Producer, editor: Erin Althaus
Videographers: Erin Althaus and Philip Allgeier

Good-Time Music

Juggernaut Jug Band

To start this edition on a fun note—or actually a whole bunch of fun notes—we meet the members of Louisville’s Juggernaut Jug Band, who have been playing their unique brand of music since the 1960s. Their repertoire combines jazz, ragtime, Dixieland, and bluesy influences, and their performances showcase both outstanding musicianship and a high-spirited sense of humor. By the end, it’s hard to know who’s had the better time—the audience or the band.

The Juggernaut boys are also preserving a piece of their hometown’s history. Most people know that bluegrass music was born in Kentucky. But it’s not the only form of music to originate here: Jug band music got its start in Louisville around the turn of the 20th century.

It was the era of travel by riverboats and trains, and the River City was a hub of both. African-American street musicians serenaded arriving passengers at boat landings, train stations, and downtown hotels. Derby Day at Churchill Downs also provided a large and well-heeled audience for these itinerant players.

According to research done in the 1960s, Louisville musicians B.D. Tite and Black Daddy brought the idea of creating a bass line by blowing into a jug back home with them from a visit to Virginia in 1898. (The elderly gentleman who demonstrated the skill for them explained that if you want whiskey, any old jug will do. But if you want to play, you have to find a jug with music already in it.) They combined it with two typical string-band instruments, banjo and fiddle, and the jug band was born.

Jug band music caught on fast, spreading up and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. During the Jazz Age of the 1920s, it also benefited from the general craze for jazz, blues, and other “race music” (as it was known at the time). In the mid-’20s, Derby crowds could enjoy the music of upwards of half a dozen separate jug bands just by walking around the Downs.

That heyday ended with the onset of the Great Depression, and the jug band form fell out of favor in most of the country, though it hung on for a while in Louisville thanks to a long-running local radio show. It was “rediscovered,” along with various other regional, ethnic, and traditional styles, as part of the folk revival of the 1960s.

Which brings us back to the Juggernaut Jug Band, which got its start during that revival and is still going strong more than three decades later. The photo above is from our In Performance at the Governor’s Mansion series, in which Roscoe Goose and bandmates dressed in somewhat more formal attire than usual in honor of the setting. In addition to “first jug,” Roscoe plays washboard, trumpet, cans, blues harp, and snare. The Amazing Mr. Fish plays walking bass, washtub bass, and something called the running nose flute. Big Daddy T sings, and he and Smiley Habanero play guitar.

Oldham County

For more information:
Hibben Knives, P.O. Box 13, La Grange, KY 40031, (502) 222-1397 (Note: Hibben’s knives are for sale only to customers over 18.)

Producer: Cheryl Beckley
Videographer: David Brinkley


Knifemaker Gil Hibben

Now here’s an interesting entry for a résumé: “Official Klingon Armorer.”

That’s one of the titles held by Gil Hibben, a knifemaker and metal sculptor from La Grange. It was bestowed on him by Paramount Pictures, which hired him to create the hand weapons to be used by the fierce warrior race in several of the Star Trek movies. Hibben’s creations have been seen in dozens of films overall, including Rambo III and Time Cop, and his skill with metalwork has taken him to the White House and to a private meeting with Elvis Presley.

Gil is also a martial arts expert who enjoys hunting and motorcycles. But he does have a gentler side, too: He plays guitar, sings with the award-winning Thoroughbred Barbershop Chorus, and has even sat in with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Fayette County

For more information:
About the clock project from the Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St., Lexington, KY 40507, (859) 231-5530
Profile of Lucille Caudill Little, whose legacy also includes an arts education endowment at KET

Producer: Tom Thurman
Videographer: Michael Follmer
Editor: Dan Taulbee

Marking Time

The Lexington Public Library ceiling clock

In 2001, the late Lexington philanthropist Lucille Caudill Little dreamed about a giant clock mounted in a ceiling and woke up determined to make it happen. Before the year was out, her dream had turned into a 40-foot-wide ceiling clock, the largest in the world, complete with a four-story Foucault pendulum and a frieze paying tribute to Kentucky equine history.

Together, they grace the lobby of the central branch of the Lexington Public Library. The clock itself, marked in Roman numerals, marks the time not with hands but with lights. The current hour and minute are lit up more brightly than the others, and 60 images of galloping horses circle the face, lighting up in succession to give the illusion of movement.

Suspended from the center is a Foucault pendulum, the device invented in 1851 by French physicist Jean Bernard Léon Foucault to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. Unless pushed sideways by an outside force, a pendulum will keep swinging back and forth in the same straight line. But the path it traces across the surface beneath it appears to change as the planet turns under it. Suspend a long pendulum in an open space, and the apparent movement of the pendulum (really the movement of the Earth) can be marked by letting the plumb bob knock down pegs or other markers. In keeping with the design of the library ceiling clock, this one lights up dots on a map that also indicates the pendulum’s current compass direction. It doesn’t take long to see the movement if you watch the pendulum for a while. But at Lexington’s latitude, you’ll have to wait a little more than 38 hours to witness a complete circle.

The final element of the Lexington library clock is a frieze painted by local artist Adalin Wichman. It pays tribute to several breeds of horses that have been important in the Bluegrass as well as eight Lexington-area jockeys who have won the Kentucky Derby.


Plus a Slide Show!

This episode ends with a selection of photographs taken by KET staff photographer Steve Shaffer during the shooting of Wild and Scenic Kentucky, a special expanded edition of Kentucky Life. It showcases scenic wonders and outdoor adventures across the state, from rafting the Breaks of the Big Sandy to biking the Land Between the Lakes. The sample photo above is from the western end of the journey, at Reelfoot Lake.

SEASON 11 PROGRAMS: 1101110211031104110511061107
110811091110: Wild and Scenic Kentucky11111112

< Previous Program | Next Program >

Sadie and Charlie Kentucky Life Home
Past Seasons
Browse by TopicAbout the Series
Our HostsPaw PalsOnline VideosContact/DVD Info
Kentucky Screensavers

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951