This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Jan 20, 2012

Lloyd Buford Threlkeld, a Pioneer

Lloyd Buford Threlkeld was a guitarist and a singer, born in Eminence, KY. He moved to Louisville in 1915 and there, took the stage name Whistler, began playing the nose flute, and formed a jug band (the famous jug bands of Louisville were bands mixing traditional instruments with ordinary objects transformed into instruments, including jugs).

The band was formed by :
Willie Black, Banjo
Jess Ferguson, Violin
Luther Nichols Violin
B. D. Tite, Jug
Rudolph Thompson, Jug
Whistler aka Buford Threlkeld, Guitar, nose whistle, vocals
James Watts, Vocals

According to, « Whistler and His Jug Band was a long-lasting and popular group that recorded for several labels from the mid-'20s through the early '30s, and influenced many of the jug bands that followed. The group was formed in 1915 in Louisville, KY by guitarist, vocalist and whistler Buford Threlkeld. The band first entered the recording studios in September 1924 when they traveled to Richmond, IN to cut several sides for the Gennett label. The second recording trip for Whistler & His Jug Band took them to St. Louis in April 1927. On this trip, the jug band recorded 10 songs for Okeh.  In June, 1931the band got to record in their hometown of Louisville ».

(Illustration by R. Crumb)

Here are some stunning examples of Threlkel's nosey talent :

Jerry O'Mine (Whistler), 9-25-1924, Richmond, Indiana, Gennett 5554-B :

Jug Band Special, 4-29-1927, St. Louis, Missouri, Okeh 8816.
(nose flute solo starting at 1'44) :

Low Down Blues (Eubie Blake / Noble Sissle), 4-29-1927, St. Louis, Missouri, Okeh 8469.
(nose flute solo starting at 0'56) :

But more! There is a gorgeous movie footage, let's dare to say a music clip, of Whistler and his Jug Band. Unfortunately "sans nose flute", but stunning anyway, with three jug-men!

Big thanks to Uncle Emile for having stressed my attention on those jewels!



  1. Accurate control over pitch and dynamics in Low Down Blues. This song actually tells me where Robert Johnson got his jumpy Malted Milk from. "My doorknob keeps on turning, must be spooks around my bed".

    1. I have new info about him that I will soon publish. Unfortunately no new recordings :)