You hardly ever hear good old songs like "The Sheik of Araby," "Blues in the Bottle" or "The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" anymore.

And when's the last time you heard a kazoo solo?

But with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band out on its 50th reunion tour this summer, you're about to get another chance.

Formed in 1963, and disbanded in 1968 after a string of cult hit albums, the band is most famous for two things.

First, it's now known mostly for the other bands it influenced, including John Sebastian and the Lovin' Spoonful.

"Dan Hicks has told me many times if it wasn't for the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, there wouldn't have been a Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks," said singer, guitarist and bandleader Kweskin, now 72 and living in Los Angeles.

"Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia were in high school when they heard our first record, and they immediately formed a group called Mother Machree's Jug Band, which morphed into the Grateful Dead," Kweskin added.

The Jim Kweskin Jug Band's second claim to fame is singer Maria D'Amato, who married Geoff Muldaur, a charter member of the band, joined the group and kept her married name even after the marriage ended.

Maria Muldaur's claim to fame, of course, is her 1974 hit song "Midnight at the Oasis."

Both Geoff and Maria are touring with Kweskin this summer, along with longtime members Bill Keith on banjo and fiddler Richard Greene, Sam Bevan on bass and Cindy Cashdollar on dobro.

The Jim Kweskin Jug Band plays at 8 p.m. July 3 and July 5 at Sebastopol's Studio E. $40 in advance; $45 at the door. 823-5316,

Then the group plays at 8 p.m. July 6 and 7 at the Freight & Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley. $38.50 in advance; $40.50 at the door. 510-644-2020,

This is not the band's first reunion. The group got together in 2005 to play in San Francisco with John Sebastian and Petaluma mandolin virtuoso David Grisman.

Since the group's breakup in the late '60s, Kweskin has pursued a solo career in music, but he also has had a successful career as a construction contractor in the Los Angeles area.

"I got a day job," he said. "I no longer wanted to play music because I had to, because when I did, it stopped being fun."

<em>You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or See his ARTS blog at</em>