Local Wire

Asylum Street Spankers

Superficially, Asylum Street Spankers appear to be two things they are not: neo-/retro- pre-rock 'n' roll pop/swing/whatever (remember that Lounge Nation rag from the '90s?) and a zany band that does "jokey songs" (remember the Dead Milkmen and Weird Al Yankowhasis?). Wrong. While these Texans perform ancient tunes and originals written in the style(s) of 1920s and '30s blues/hillbilly/pop tunes, they don't present themselves as zoot-suited hepcats and sequined dolls. While many of their songs are indeed salaciously humorous ("My Baby in the CIA," "Everybody's Fucking but Me"), the staff at this Asylum takes care to make songs memorable, not just funny. Asylum Street Spankers get their point across with guitar, dobro, banjo, violin, clarinet, washboard, and musical saw, while Christina Marrs' singing alternates Betty Boop cute and Billie Holiday sultry, making a swell contrast with Wammo's redneck mock boisterousness. And get this: The instrument-juggling Spankers perform not only acoustic, they do it without microphones. Who needs electricity, anyway? If a Kevin Costner-type post-apocalyptic scenario occurs, we already have Asylum.
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Mark Keresman