Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers: Fine Southern Gentlemen

Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

There are many bands out there today that merge traditional American roots music such as country, bluegrass and the blues with punk rock, but few do it better than Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. Over the course of six albums, this Kentucky based band has shown that they stand head and shoulders above all the pretenders out there.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that they manage their musical alchemy with seamlessness, sincerity and authenticity or maybe it’s their high live shows, which has earned frequently shirtless and sweaty front man J.D. Wilkes comparisons to such people as Iggy Pop, and has even been called one of the best front person’s out there by the likes of Jello Biafra and Hank III. They have developed into a force to be reckoned with.

“We’re completely different from when we first started out. Originally we were more of a rockabilly band but since then we have become this Frankenstein that incorporates punk rock and blues into the mix. It’s a crunching sound and one that takes us farther away from the core, but at the same time the music is more in the spirit of what we are aiming for, in getting the rhythm of the train and other rural machinery into our sound,” said Wilkes.

The capturing of these rural industrial rhythms are in full display on the band’s new record, which is appropriately titled “Agri-dustrial”. On this one, the band is joined by Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison and his noisy skronks give the music an extra jolt of electricity. (Just check out his slide work on the album’s first track “Sin Eater,” to show this is a perfect musical marriage.) What would seem like an odd pairing at first to many roots rock purists, works wonderfully. (And, yes, he is touring with the band.)

But don’t think this happened at the spur of the moment. The roots of this album and the partnership with Denison go way back. In fact, when the band first started out, Denison and his wife would go out and check out the band, enjoying what they saw and heard. They eventually became friends, and Wilkes actually lived in a room above the garage in Denison’s house for a while. During this time they came up with the concept for this record.

It was all set to go, but then Mike Patton came calling, and Tomahawk was formed. But they didn’t give up on the idea, and about nine years later they were able to put this collaboration into effect.

“It was nice to see the seed we planted all those years ago come to fruition,” said Wilkes.

While this new album is killer and it could be argued that there are no weak links in the band’s catalog, they are known as a fearsome live act. It’s a high energy spectacle that leaves the band covered in sweat. When a band has such a reputation as this, one can’t help but wonder how they keep the energy up, night after night.
It’s very easy, in fact, according to Wilkes.

“It’s always automatic. There is a switch that gets turned on once the music starts. You just get into it and start to move,” said Wilkes.

Actually what irks Wilkes more is some of the crowd reactions to the band, which also features upright bass player Mark Robertson and drummer Brett Whitacre. He can’t see why people just stand still when faced with such high energy music. After all, good music should connect with the hips and the Shack Shakers play some great hip shaking music, so it should be a no brainer to get up and dance. The spirit will move you at one of their shows.

Upcoming future plans for the band include another full length album for the summer 2012, as well as more touring with Europe in their sights and Wilkes plans to do more videos and documentary film making. He made a critically acclaimed documentary called “Seven Signs”, which is about eccentric southern people and culture that won an award at the Rain Dance Film Festival in England a few years back.

We have an acclaimed band with a great live reputation playing on Friday in Connecticut. Here is another show that you should not miss. I keep saying this about most of these, but seriously this is some good shit. Don’t miss out.

Manic Productions Presents:

Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers
The Proud Flesh

Friday, October 21, 2011
Daniel Street
21 Daniel Street
Milford, CT

8:00pm – 21+ - $12 ($10 in advance)

Buy tickets now or pick them up at Redscroll.

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