Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers


I don’t know if you should take your meds (prescription or non) before, during or after listening to this rambunctious group careen through this energetic, short-count (32:55) tour that gives us a glimpse of its members’ personal demons. Led by “front freak” Colonel J.D. Wilkes (ex-Hank Williams III) on banjo, harmonica and piano, the quartet includes guitarist David Lee, bassist Mark Robertson and drummer Brett Whitacre. This, the third installment of their Tent Show Trilogy, was inspired by Wilkes’ new home in western Kentucky, “… a creepy blend of Appalachia, delta and the swamp.” Songs like “Easter Flesh” (about really getting down with the Lord) and “Cheat the Hangman” (“So stretch the limits of your neckrophobia”) visit the same territory Flannery O’Connor explored so well in her writing. Set mostly to thumping rhythms, the 16 selections span a wide range of influences including bluegrass (great swaths of it thanks to Wilkes’ ebullient banjo picking), surf guitar interludes, tastes of blues harp and, on “Hellwater,” serious homage to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Put this on at your next rave-up and watch the miasma drift up from the mosh pit.