Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers
April 19, 2006
“Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers started their hell-for-leather, Penta-caustic roadshow just over three years ago and in a short time have earned quite a name for themselves with their unique brand of American Gothic”
Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers started their hell-for-leather, Penta-caustic roadshow just over three years ago and in a short time have earned quite a name for themselves with their unique brand of American Gothic that is all-at-once irreverent, revisionist, dangerous, and fun. Led by their wildly charismatic rail thin frontman, the blues-harpist J.D. Wilkes, th’ Shack*Shakers are a four-man wrecking crew from the South whose explosive interpretations of the blues, punk, rock and country have made fans, critics and legions of potential converts into true believers.Described as “...the last great Rock and Roll frontman“ by Jello Biafra (of the Dead Kennedys), Shack*Shakers front man J.D. Wilkes began yelpin’ the blues through a ham radio microphone at his boyhood home of Paducah, Kentucky-a short farmer’s blow away from where his future bassist Mark Robertson was cutting his teeth on punk rock and gospel in Nashville, Tennessee.When their paths crossed a few years later in the lawless honky tonks of music city’s “lower Broadway scene,“ they found their individuated styles and common interests meshed and that’s when the like-minded, red-headed musical misfits began their crusade. With the recent addition of guitarist extraordinaire David Lee (South Carolina’s preeminent bad-ass and “Illustrated Man“) th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers have quickly become know for providing some of the best entertainment-live or otherwise-that you can get for your hard-earned money.Following critical accolades from Mojo, Q Magazine and Billboard with their first two albums Cockadoodledon’t and Believe, th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers will release their third-full length recording Pandelirium this February, their second LP on YepRoc Records (home to artists such as Paul Weller, Bob Mould, John Doe and the Reverend Horton Heat).Pandelirium is a collection of twelve songs that continue the band’s tough-love affair with America’s demons and explore the dark underbelly of our nation’s most primitive and stripped-down musical histories in a way that is both reverent and confrontational. Drawing from the rustic charm of cotton-field hollers, funeral marches and murder ballads and the unhinged energy of Texas polkas, spaghetti western anthems and gritty, punky sound bombs, Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers break American music down to its essentials-only to rebuild it into their own monstrous, agri-dustrial abomination.
With tracks such as “Ichabod!“ “No Such Thing,“ and “Somethin’ in the Water,“ the result is the hoarse, echoing battle cry of an underground nation embracing musical traditions centuries old and paying homage to the dirty work and gallows humor found in their forefathers’ freight yards, coalmines and tent shows. Haunted places grown over with the darker roots of our unique yet somewhat God-forsaken heritage. The album also features guest performances by Jello Biafra and The Reverend Horton Heat.
“Thus completes the second installment of the unfolding trilogy of our new American gothic. Huzzah! Huzzah!“ said J.D. Wilkes.
For the uninitiated, the band’s debauched live show is the necessary counterpart to their hard-hitting recordings. Hillbilly royalty, Hank Williams III once said after touring with them that it was “like having SLAYER open up for you every night,“ and called J.D. Wilkes and his crew, “the best damn front man and band in America.“ On stage, J.D. Wilkes is like a mad southern preacher with a bible in one hand and a glass of strychnine and a lit cigarette in the other. Meshing Pentecostal themes with pained lyrics and show-stopping moves that draw comparisons to Tom Waits and the grotesque facial and bodily contortions of Iggy Pop, the band has developed a live show like none other.
Having toured both the U.S and Europe relentlessly for the past two years, the word of mouth on the live Shack*Shakers experience is so strong that it reached the likes of Robert Plant, who made it a priority to see them at this year’s SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. One performance was all it took for Plant to join the converted. After seeing the band’s show at SXSW, Plant invited th’ Shack*Shakers to support him on his upcoming European tour, which will kick off in Paris, France on November 9th. “It’s F***ing Great,“ said Robert Plant on th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers.
“We try to tap into basic primal instincts,“ said Wilkes. “Rock ’n’ roll is a cathartic release. Anything that doesn’t realise that bestial nature isn’t rock ’n’ roll.“In addition to his musical accolades, J.D. Wilkes has also been recognized as an accomplished illustrator and painter whose sketches further the band’s mission of celebrating and honoring the tradition of the American south. Alarm Magazine recently featured Wilkes’s elaborate sketches ala Thomas Nast in a four-page spread describing him as the “Ambassador of Genuine Traditional Southern Culture“ and compared his unique storytelling abilities to that of other Southern voices such as William Faulkner, Johnny Cash and Muddy Waters. Brothers and Sisters, discover Pandelirium, the sound of your black-sooted Village Smithee, as he smites away your shackles with one mighty, crushing blow. Shuck them off and join us, won’t you? For the already initiated, Pandelirium is the NEW WAVE OF OLD SCHOOL and the BRAVE NEW SOUND OF BRAVE OLD AMERICA in all its horrific detail and mystical blur.
Simply put, this is the new AMERICAN Gothic…Steely eyes, white knuckles, pitchforks… and a beginning to life as we need to know it! DIG IN.