Local Wire

Asylum Street Spankers

If you dig a little digga digga doo, Asylum Street Spankers has a paddle for you. Jazz and swing at the core, the Spankers (a "spanker" is slang for someone who plays an acoustic instrument) will dip into any genre, turning rap songs and television show themes into riotous swing numbers. Even original ditties are rife with snarky humor -- which sometimes belies the band's serious musicianship, cultivated by 10 years of touring. Don't let the lyrics about pharmaceutical salvation and Disney World dates with Charles Manson fool you. A.S.S. is a genre-whoring jam band of talented multi-instrumentalists and clever songwriters.

Eschewing both PA and sound man, the Spankers crank on anarchic acoustic jams that splice together jazz, blues, swing, country and comedy. Every instrument from ukulele and kazoo to something called "psychedelic ascension" gets thrown into the mix, leaving the listener with the impression that Asylum Street Spankers aren't so much musicians as audio alchemists. The minute they seem serious, they suddenly bust into a Beastie Boys or Black Flag cover.

The band's constantly mutating lineup currently includes Nevada Newman, who started his musical career in Phoenix, fronting the rockabilly blues band The Daybreakers. And a spot in the Spankers isn't easy to nab. According to Spankers co-founder Wammo, simply being able to sing and play multiple instruments isn't enough. "You've got to be kind of nuts to be in this band."

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea