Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.
Once called “the last great rock and roll frontman” by Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, J.D. Wilkes can have an explosive edge when performing with his Nashville hillbilly-punk outfit the Legendary Shack Shakers.
Ten or so years ago, the Shack Shakers opened up for psycho-billy master Reverend Horton Heat at former club Saratoga Winners, and Wilkes’ lesser-known act practically stole the show. I seem to recall Wilkes – after baiting the crowd repeatedly by showering them with strands of his own pubic hair – nearly inciting a riot by scaling the club’s barn-like rafters and swinging a set of nunchucks.
When Wilkes brought his old-time roots-influenced side project, the Dirt Daubers, to Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany last week, he was much more subdued – and recovering from bronchitis – although at times you could almost see the wild frontman itching to come out.
“He’s a show off,” needled mandolin-playing vocalist Jessica Wilkes – J.D.’s wife – after the frontman executed an Elvis-style rubber-legged hip swivel during the trio’s set, which included J.D. Wilkes’ fast-picking banjo on the Shelton Brothers’ old hillbilly country tune, “Just Because” (later recorded by Elvis) and Gene Autry’s signature cowboy song “Back in the Saddle Again.”
From “Wake Up Sinners,” the Dirt Daubers’ latest album, the redneck-swing tune “High and Low” featured jazzy vocals by Jessica Wilkes and a kazoo solo by J.D. on an instrument the band claimed was bought at a Cracker Barrel restaurant and country store. Title track “Wake Up Sinners” had a jaunty revival-tent feel, and on “Single Girl,” Jessica Wilkes comically played off her five-year marriage to J.D. by pining for the single life.
“If I say, ‘How about that band we played with,’ I almost never mean it. But you guys were great, sincerely,” said Dirt Daubers stand-up bassist Mark Robertson after Albany’s the Slaughterhouse Chorus cranked the volume way up on a blistering opening set of punk-Americana, including the cleverly-titled “Guns N’ Cattle,” “Built for BBQ” and “Amber Waves of Cocaine” from their newly-released album, “The Slaughterhouse Chorus.”
Review, photographs and videos at Keep Albany Boring