JD Wilkes with The Legendary Shack Shakers Unplugged
1100 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
JD Wilkes is an American musician, visual artist, author, filmmaker and self-proclaimed "southern surrealist". He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (notably on harmonica and banjo), having recorded with such artists as Merle Haggard, John Carter Cash, Mike Patton, and Hank Williams III. Wilkes’ latest solo album Cattle in the Cane (Arkam Records, January 2015) includes his own renditions of traditional tunes (mostly old-time mountain music), with performances by elder Kentucky fiddler Charlie Stamper (the brother of Art Stamper) on many of the tracks. In the last two years, Wilkes has continued to develop his solo project, having toured with Charlie Parr and The Tillers, as well as performing at the 2015 Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Wilkes is perhaps best known as the founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band formed in the mid 90s. Fans of his work with Legendary Shack Shakers include Stephen King, Robert Plant and former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. Rolling Stone named Wilkes as the “best frontman” at the 2015 Americana Music Association Festival for his performance with the band. Regarding the group’s "southern gothic" lyricism, Billboard Magazine said "[Wilkes writes] mind-blowing lyrics rife with Biblical references and ruminations of life, death, sin and redemption.” Legendary Shack Shakers have toured with the likes of Robert Plant and The Black Keys, among others. Their music has been featured in HBO’s True Blood series, and in a long-running Geico commercial.
JD Wilkes has been compared to iconoclasts like David Byrne, Iggy Pop, or Jerry Lee Lewis, and with his small, wiry frame and intense, incandescent performances, it’s not hard to see why. But while he plays the carnival barker onstage, he’s a dedicated lifelong student of true Southern culture. Master banjo player Dom Flemons said, “JD is a real old-Kentucky banjo player and he can take that to the bank! I gotta watch out next time I see his banjo.” A resident of Paducah, Kentucky, Wilkes is a Kentucky Colonel, an honorable title bestowed by the state's Governor upon those with a connection to, or who are famous residents of the state of Kentucky. In 2015, Wilkes was featured on the BBC original series Songs of the South, in an episode focusing on the musical history of Tennessee and Kentucky.
Aside from his prolific career in music, Wilkes is also a published writer, having recently authored the book Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky, an exploration of his state’s social music and dance history based on extensive fieldwork and research. A true Southern Renaissance man, Wilkes is also an accomplished visual artist (specializing in comics, sideshow banners and book illustrations) as well as a documentary filmmaker (his documentary Seven Signs explores “music, myths, and the American South” and was screened at the UK’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival).
The Legendary Shack Shakers
The Legendary Shack Shakers’ hell-for-leather roadshow has earned quite a name for itself with its unique brand of Southern Gothic and swampy "hillbilly blues" that is all-at-once irreverent, lyrical, dangerous, and fun. Led by their charismatic, rail-thin frontman and blues-harpist JD Wilkes, the Shack Shakers are a four-man wrecking crew from the South whose explosive interpretations of swamp blues, rock n' roll and hillbilly music have made fans, critics and legions of potential converts into true believers.
Between intermittent hiatuses to work on other projects (including JD's sideshow banner-style artwork for acts like The Squirrel Nut Zippers and Marty Stuart...plus his two published books The Vine That Ate the South and Barn Dances & Jamborees Across Kentucky), the band is constantly re-mobilizing, much to the excitement of many a Shack Shakers fanatic. Despite Wilkes' extracurricular projects, the band's reputation for intense entertainment has stuck with them.
On stage, JD has been compared to the likes of Iggy Pop, David Byrne, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The Nashville Scene named Wilkes “the best frontman in Nashville”, while former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra has called JD “the last great Rock and Roll frontman.” Having joined the band in early 2012, guitarist Rod Hamdallah provides the garage-y blues stylings to their last two releases, while the rhythm section is rounded out by Preston Corn on drums and Fuller Condon thumping the upright bass.
Although not necessarily "legendary" upon being named, the band has grown into its reputation the last several years due to their heavy tour schedule, seven critically acclaimed studio albums, and songs that have been featured on television shows such as HBO’s True Blood and Swamp Loggers. Past tour mates and fans include Reverend Horton Heat, Rancid, The Black Keys, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, and Hank Williams III. Robert Plant is also a noted Legendary Shack Shakers fan, and picked the band to open for him on his 2005 tour of Europe. Plant named the band's third album Believe as one of his favorite records of 2005. The list of esteemed admirers goes on to include horror novelist Stephen King, who listed “CB Song” as among his iPod’s Top Five in a 2008 Entertainment Weekly article. Such a wealth of devoted, cult like fans over the years has only added to the mystique that the Legendary Shack Shakers possess, carrying them down the road toward new creative pursuits and riotous tunes.
Hepner's Rebellion is an up-and-coming folk act that mixes traditional bluegrass style of playing with modern rock and blues themes. Originally from the farm country of Maryland, Hepners rebellion aims to blend old with the new while dazzling the audience with up tempo originals and bluegrass standards. Call now for booking!
$15 Advance / $17 Day of Show