Local Wire

Asylum Street Spankers

With their rapid-fire subversive stabs, Asylum Street Spankers are like a Family Guy hootenanny. This Austin, Texas, outfit has devoted entire albums to irking the easily offended. Spanker Madness skewered the war on drugs, and Dirty Ditties lived up to its title, producing "The Scrotum Song" ("It's my wrinkly, crinkly bag of skin"). Not all of their antics stand up to repeated listens (only one serving of "Hick Hop," please), but this completely acoustic ensemble transcends the novelty tag with its impressive instrumental range. Using banjo, fiddle and washboard, the Spankers can play potent moonshine country, but they're equally adept at blending torch-song backdrops and potty-mouth lyrics to create an entirely new relationship between jazz and scat. Spankers founder Guy Forsyth, who took time off to pursue an eclectic solo career, rejoined the group in 2004 during a three-hour concert. The show incorporated 21 past or present members and was captured on the new DVD Re-Assembly.
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Andrew Miller