Legendary Shack Shakers

REVIEW: J.D. Wilkes & The Legendary Shack Shakers – “Cockadoodledeux”


J.D. Wilkes & The Legendary Shack Shakers – Cockadoodledeux

This release celebrates 25 years as a band. Founder J.D. Wilkes commemorates that milestone by producing a 12-cut collection.

Kentucky’s The Legendary Shack Shakers had a “family reunion,” since many members had come & gone & came back for this. Cockadoodledeux is scheduled for mass consumption on Nov 5 (Alternative Tentacles Records).

Prior LPs mixed generous quantities of punk, blues & country that led to a reputation as reliable purveyors of diversified genres. However, this new one focuses singularly on country & western.

Wilkes didn’t want to make a scattered song album. He wanted to stay within a solid country music focus that seriously encompasses many flavors: Western swing, rockabilly, C&W, bluegrass & Tex-Mex for spice. These songs were originally scheduled as a 2018 Wilkes solo but became a Shack Shakers.

Instead of following a formula, the LP reeks of C&W passion that’s lacking in many of today’s country contemporary pop that passes as a modern country.

An oldie leads off — the theme from the TV series “Rawhide,” with guest vocals by the Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra who adds a creepy effective vocal tint.

Many guest musicians from many known roots bands too numerous to mention perform. Former members (7) & guest musicians (11).

The regular band: J.D. (vocals/French harp/banjo/piano/accordion/organ/percussion), Gary Siperko (electric-acoustic-slide-12-string-B-bender & baritone guitars/mandolin), Fuller Condon (upright bass/BGV), & Preston Corn (drums/percussion/mandolin/BGV).

The fiddle-driven “Tickle Your Innards,” is quite authentic in its performance. Energetic Stanley Walker & “Hillybilly” Bob Prather vocals with former member Morgan Jahnig (electric bass) who adds a cameo voice.

Legendary Shack Shakers

What the band maintains is a polished vintage showcase rather than a retro dusty attempt to emulate the old-fashioned. “They Won’t Let Me Forget,” is beautifully rendered. The Tex-Mex accordion spirited “Godforsaken Town,” would’ve been an excellent late-career Johnny Cash song. Patrick Carrico adds a hot guitar, Jim Caugill toots the Mariachi trumpet. Delightful.

Despite the dated music style, there’s no denying the musicians percolate. Propelled by a love of music. They indeed capture the era. I can feel the music’s tradition – the straw on the pine floorboards under my feet, turning ceiling fan above the wide skirts spinning on the dance hall, spiked punch, pounding boot heels, tobacco plug chaw in a cheek & the sheer fun of…playing the music together.

It’s escapism. Done with finesse & sincerity. This was rural people’s entertainment decades ago after 18 hours working in the fields. 12 varied cuts played with exceptional respect to the tradition. “I Told You So,” & “I Don’t Remember Lovin’ You,” are first-class country & western. A great dance song is found on the humorous “Punk Rock Retirement Plan,” a new preservation tune highly polished.

This music demonstrates maturity — it’s where Americana was born. It delivers. It’s why the Shack Shakers are called “legendary.”

B&W photo courtesy of LSS Facebook. The 32-minute CD available @ Bandcamp + https://www.legendaryshackshakers.com/home

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