Forget Shelter, Gimme Asylum

Texas is a cradle of civilization. After all, the Lone Star State gave the world Bob Wills, Wes Anderson, Danny Elfman, the Butthole Surfers, and the Asylum Street Spankers. The Spankers' god wore dungarees, a spiked leather wristband, and hepcat shades, and they're so punk rock they perform without amplification. They play a mixture of ancient tunes and originals in the styles of 1920s & '30s country blues, hillbilly, jug band, and pop tunes with commitment and inspired goofiness. Best of all, the Spankers avoid the major pitfalls of those drawing musical sustenance from pre-WWII wells — "Gosh, we're so quaint, wacky, and/or adorably retro" and "We bring a stuffy reverence to roots music, so we're dry as a popcorn fart." The Spankers have brains, merging redneck rock with rap, coming up with "hick-hop." They have heart, too — taking on America's struggles with isolation and alienation via "Everybody's Fucking But Me." But get it straight — Asylum Street Spankers are not a joke-song act, like Weird Al Yankovic or the Dead Milkmen. They can make with stylish Django Reinhardt swing and Memphis Minnie grit like nobody's business. And oy, are they fun live — you won't need any drugs at all.
Fri., April 4, 8 & 10:30 p.m., 2008

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