Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It doesn't seem like The Legendary Shack Shakers lead singer J.D. Wilkes could be offended by anything at all. He appears to be tolerant of much, though still bitter about most. It's why we don't think he'd be offended if we were to observe him as a squirrelly guy. He's scrawny and jumpy, as if he's always got his underwear full of leeches or grasshoppers or something. He often wears tiny spectacles and they don't stop his eyes from always looking beady and shifty. He contorts his face and uses his tongue in ways on stage that seem to be appropriated from old performance videos of Sid Vicious and maybe a Peter North porno. He stomps and he hoots and he yodels right straight through these songs about degenerative behavior, or just what's come to pass as normal behavior for some people. These are stories that seem to be about those surrounded by Bible-thumpers who don't put any faith into the hogwash of the good book. They're bound to do what they're bound to do and all the fire and brimstone promised them at the end of all of their shenanigans isn't about to slow them down. If anything else, it goads them on. Then again, the sins we're talking about here are the garden-variety kinds in most cases, those vices that are merely fun and enjoyable, but finger-wagged at all the same. They are the sins that get you thrown into the drunk skunk tank. Those needful yearnings of all things lusty and inappropriate seem to kick up at the worst possible times. The cock gets the best of some men and it takes over their lives. Sometimes anger takes over. Sometimes the sins get bloodier. They get more permanent. Wilkes, upright bassist Mark Robertson, guitarist Duane Denison and drummer Brett Whitacre present the lives of the agitated hillbillies and dirt workers, frustrated by their hard days of scraping by, too many mouths to feed, constant bickering and bellyaching and fired up by all of that corn mash liquor that they've got stored up in bulk out there in the corn crib, next to all of their well-oiled shotguns. There's thrash banjo and a bustling, blood vessels-about-to-burst, the-sheriff's-on-his-way quality to everything the Shakers do. They bring out the midnight and all the transgressions in a man. They put them out there, in broad daylight, to listen to. These are the grave robbers, the adulterers and the cradle-rocking dirties telling their sides of the stories. These are the hard-working men who put up with a lot of shit, just letting themselves loose once in a while. They need some fresh air from all the shit stink so they bust some bottles against the walls and they throw some bar stools out the window just to feel what that man-made lightning's like. It's been known to sustain some men.
The Legendary Shack Shakers Official Site