About the Band

The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band
“ a truly unique mixture of music, mirth and pure entertainment ”

The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band has been entertaining audiences, young and old, since 1975. True to the original 1920’s jug bands of the South, our music comes alive with washboard, jug, kazoo, washtub bass, jaw harp, guitar and banjo. The band delights audiences with country, bluegrass jug band, ragtime and original music and even some rock ’n roll classics. Ben might even play a classical music piece! Performances have included appearances at the KIMO Theater, Rio Grande Zoo, Albuquerque Bio Park, Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival, Placitas Artists Series, International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and much more! We also play for national and international conferences, weddings, private parties, school and community events. Our latest CD, “Radio Station WMJB,” was released in 2011. Other special recognition includes: being chosen by Jim Queskin as one of the top 20 jug bands in the USA for the CD “Jugs Across America”; receiving recognition by NM Music Awards for an original song “Beer”; and Ben playing the NM state guitar at the dedication ceremony at the request of Pimentel Guitars.

Members of The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band are professionals on stage as well as off. Gary Oleson (washtub bass) is a retired math teacher from Los Lunas High School. Five-time New Mexico banjo champion Ben Perea (banjo, guitar) is a retired band director from Valley High School in Albuquerque and owner of New Mexico Academy of Driving in Rio Rancho. Pat Houlihan (vocals, guitar, jaw harp, kazoo, jug) is a professor of English at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). Barbara Piper (washboard, high-hat, percussion, background vocals) is a retired teacher from Albuquerque Public Schools and an independent educational consultant.

The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band has been recognized as “one of New Mexico’s treasured natural resources”…“a truly unique mixture of music, mirth and pure entertainment”…“totally irresistible.” So sing along! Grab a kazoo and enjoy! It’s just too much fun to miss!

What audiences say about The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band:

“Opening the evening’s concert was The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band which demonstrated again that it’s one of New Mexico’s most treasured natural resources.” – T. M., Albuquerque Journal

“We may be a good dance couple, BUT we are only as good as the band! You guys are terrific! ” -  dance couple of 45 years ( 2013 )

“Thank you for a great 4th of July celebration. Your sound was fantastic, excellent instrumentals and vocals, great energy and soliciting of audience participation, you looked good, very upbeat, quite enjoyable all around. ” -  NM Tech Performing Arts Series

” The band received so many compliments in 2012. The band’s music was just what we needed to start the day!  It set the mood. The vendors and attendees started their day at the festival in a fun, happy mood.” – K.S., Lavender Festival – Village of Los Ranchos

“Your commitment to good times, great music and joyful and wholesome entertainment has always been obvious the moment you all take the stage to your final encore (always a standing ovation!). You have the gift of music and are using it unselfishly to brighten the community around you. Thank you for the many smiles you have brought to all who have ever had the pleasure of watching you perform…” – M. Molony, Sandia Presbyterian Church

“Thanks again for the amazing performance at our wedding. What an outstanding performance! ” – Liz (a new bride)

“I’m listening to The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band CD right now and it is great!” – Bryan, Music Director, KAOS Radio, Olympia, WA

“We loved our wedding so much, partly because it was the most fun party we’ve been to. That has a lot to do with you all. Thanks for a rollicking good time.” – M and T (bride and groom)

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the band for such a marvelous performance. You were worth twice the money had I had it to give!! The following day everyone complimented me on how good the talent was! They really had a grand time.” – L. B., National Conference Planner

“Special thanks for being great to work with. We were ‘wowed’ by the performance of The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band. You are special!” – B., Event Planner for a national reunion

Credits: Photos by Shawna Cory; Angelina Skonieczka; Wende Woolley                                                                    Logo by Ben Perea