About the Band

Check out our 2024 schedule…

Happy New Year 2023 ! Check out our 2023 SCHEDULE. Hope to see you soon!

March 2022… We are performing again! Check out the 2022 SCHEDULE.

See you soon!

December 2021… Looking forward to 2022… Please see our “SCHEDULE 2022” to see where we are performing. Hope to see you in 2022!

June 13, 2021 – GREAT NEWS!! …. We are playing again in 2021. Check out our schedule on the “Schedule” page of our website. Hope to see you soon!! 

Staying in touch in 2020…

December 12, 2020 –  A new honor for the band! The East Mountain Historical Society has just published a very thorough, 700 page book titled Timelines of the East Mountains detailing the history of the people and significant locations on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band is included on the section on the Golden Inn ( built in 1962…burned down in 1983 ). Other literary works featuring the band include Fodor’s Guide to New Mexico (1985), Legendary Locals of Albuquerque by Richard Melzer ( 2015 ), and KIMO Theatre-Fact & Fiction ( Southwest Writers / 2019 ). 

Happy Holidays to ALL of you!! Hope to see you back in 2021!  

November 20, 2020 – Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving… A good memory of this month last year when we were honored to induct the Pimentel Family of luthiers into the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame. Stay safe so we can see you again hopefully in 2021.

August 25, 2020 –  We are all doing well. Hope you are too! Missing playing music and seeing you all. Eventually, we will be at it again … You might check out Ben’s youtube.com entries to keep you musically connected in the meantime. 

May 23, 2020 – Well, here we are 2 months later and still miss performing for you. However, we are safe and well as we hope you are too. 2020 may turn out to be the year when the Watermelon Mountain Jug Band is noted as the local band with the most performances cancelled in a year !!! Of course, due to circumstances beyond our control. We look forward to the day when we can safely be with you again!

March 18, 2020  We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time of the covid-19 pandemic. We will miss seeing you in public but hope that eventually we shall reunite with you musically!

November 2019New Mexico Music Hall of Fame Awards: We were honored by the Pimentel family, internationally known luthiers ( makers of guitars ), to be asked to induct the Pimentels into the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame on November 2 at the KIMO Theater. The emcee, Abe Torres, presented the evening as an evening that represented the true diversity of musical artists of New Mexico. We fit right in !!!

May 2019 – Another honor for the Watermelon Mountain Jug Band !  A new book, “KIMO Theater: Fact and Folklore ” was released this month about the history of the KIMO Theater in downtown Albuquerque. The book is sponsored by the Southwest Writers and written by Jacqueline Loring. The KIMO Theater has been an especially delightful performance space for the band over the years. 

Welcome 2019 ! 2017 and 2018 were again wonderful years for the band…so many performances…so much fun!! We are headed into year 44 of performing and we even still like each other! After all this time, you might truly consider the Watermelon Mountain Jug Band a “New Mexico tradition” of sorts. We look forward to seeing fans ( old and new ) in 2019. You can always follow our schedule updated here on the website  (and sometimes updated on Facebook. ) Stay tuned for a new CD!

Spring 2016 – New Mexico State Guitar Dedication – Our very own Ben Perea ( banjo and guitar) was honored by the Pimentel family of Pimentel Guitars ( Albuquerque ) when he was asked to and played the New Mexico State guitar at the dedication ceremony in Santa Fe this spring. The Pimentel family are internationally known as luthiers ( makers of guitars ) and were commissioned by the State of New Mexico to design and build the state guitar.

2015 – Hot off the press!! The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band is one of Albuquerque’s Legendary Locals, a new book written by Richard Melzer highlighting individuals who have “significantly contributed to Albuquerque’s character, development, and deserved reputation.. and make a visit to Albuquerque even more impressive and interesting…”Other legendary locals include Lorenzo Pimentel and Pimentel Guitars, Glenn Campbell, Jim Morrison, Rudolfo Anaya, “Walter White”, Neil Patrick Harris, Thomas Popejoy, Clyde Tingley., et. al.

About the band…

 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. Yes, celebrating in 2020, 45 years of performing!! 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, Spanish 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 Kweskin 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” written by Pat Houlihan; 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 retired 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 education 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

“Watermelon Mountain Jug Band, your music is delicious to the ear !  What a great evening of music.” – attendee of the National Environmental Balancing Association (NEBB) at their international conference at Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque

“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