Legendary Shack Shakers "Billyrock" their way into Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” J. D. Wilkes, whose Legendary Shack Shakers play in Vail, Colorado Thursday, has been a blues-harpist since his grandfather gave him his first 10-hole diatonic harmonica when he was a kid.
The Legendary Shack Shakers with a country bluegrass sound and has evolved into “Americana rockabilly,” a mixture of blues, rock, punk, and country. He says that the band’s sound changes as its members meet and jam with the legends of the various musical genres.
Based out of Nashville, the Legendary Shack Shakers visit the Sandbar this Thursday evening at 9 p.m..
Vail Daily: When did the band first start playing together?
J. D. Wilkes : I started the band in 1995 in western Kentucky. (It was) one of the things I did in college for fun and profit. When I moved to Nashville and re-formed the band it (the music) took on a country sort of swing. We’ve just been misfits, adapting to whatever the situation was, and absorbing different kinds of music, mostly American roots music like blues and country and rock and roll.
VD: What’s the inspiration for the band’s name?
JD: Well, at the time we were kind of doing hillbilly music and we wanted something like that. It came from an old hillbilly song called “Shakin’ the Shack.” But it turns out there were two other bands by that name so we had to elaborate further and we called ourselves The Legendary Shack Shakers to help ourselves stand out, a little bit of hyperbole to peak people’s interest. It stuck.
VD: Hank Williams III said that having your band open for him was “like having Slayer open up for you every night.” Is that a description that you would use?
JD: Well … we don’t sound like Slayer ” I think what he meant is that it’s a hard act to follow and in his world Slayer is probably a great, awesome band … It was pretty nice of him. He gave of a lot of glowing review and quotes that we still use.
VD: What was it like to have Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin specially attend your performance at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and what was it like to work with him on his European Tour?
JD: It was wonderful and we all got along swimmingly. He was quite knowledgeable in all the music I like … he was like a walking encyclopedia. What impressed me the most was how knowledgeable he was about American music.
VD: Your album “Pandelirium” received rave reviews from music magazines like Real Blues to newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer. Would you say that your music appeals to the general public?
JD: Oh yeah absolutely! We’ve had some songs in movies and TV shows and commercials. We’ve had our music in the Geico commercial a few years ago. We got nationwide appeal.
There’s a top 10 list for commercial music popularity and it stayed there (at No. 1) for a year and that proves that we are palpable to the mainstream. And we just had a song in Julia Roberts’ new movie “Duplicity.”
We are all over the “True Blood” soundtrack and other HBO and Showtime shows. TV is starting to use this genre, Americana, in the soundtrack and it’s become sort of like a cult popularity. That’s a great trend that bodes well for bands like us. Hopefully it will keep coming for years to come.
VD: Your most recent album “Swampblood” has a cover with Abe Lincoln smoking a pipe with a Confederate flag behind him. Is there a special meaning to those opposing forces?
JD: Uh, yeah it’d be like a ying yang. I thought it was just a ridiculous image but some people got offended, I don’t know who would be offended by that … but anyway it has something to do with a flag that was hanging behind the drum riser at an English club, that’s all I know about that.
VD: What made you want to come to Vail to perform?
JD: We have been there before with Reverend Horton Heat and we thought it would be good to come back and see it if it will work by ourselves out there.
A new Hallmark Channel movie set in Vail, starring Lacey Chabert of “Mean Girls,” will make its debut on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. EST.