The Legendary Shack Shakers bring their harmonica-driven punk stomp back to Chicago | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

The Legendary Shack Shakers bring their harmonica-driven punk stomp back to Chicago 

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click to enlarge Legendary Shack Shakers

Legendary Shack Shakers

Jared Manzo

Led by charismatic vocalist and harmonica player J.D. Wilkes, the Legendary Shack Shakers present an interesting take on the psychobilly theme. Formed in Kentucky and now based in Nashville, this group has been blending roots, country, rock ’n’ roll, and punk for more than two decades. While many of their contemporaries’ styles seem to start and end with the Cramps and the Reverend Horton Heat, the Shack Shakers have a definite prewar-country influence buried underneath their foot stomping, distortion, and punk intensity. Extra props go to Wilkes for using the harmonica as a legit rock instrument rather than as a space filler a la Bob Dylan: it’s right up front in the mix on the Shack Shakers’ albums, the most recent of which is 2017’s After You’ve Gone (Last Chance), and the way Wilkes’s playing complements the music echoes the best harp-driven blues bands. While the albums are definitely worth getting, the Shack Shakers’ live show is no joke: expect a hillbilly Iggy Pop with a harmonica mike in his hand, plus a few other things you hadn’t bargained on. These guys came to shake the shack, not shrink.   v

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