The Legendary Shack Shakers – Mercury Lounge – New York City – 11/08/07

If you’re a Legendary Shack Shakers fan try and describe the band to a friend when they ask predictable “What do they sound like?” Just watch as their eyes glaze over and smoke pours out of their ears when you say “They’re kind of a blues, rockabilly, country, punk-rock, Gothic (not goth) with a touch of the occasional klezmer influence.”

The whole sonic-stew is seamless at the ear-splitting, breakneck-pace of a LSS show. Featuring Paducah, Kentucky’s featherweight front-man Colonel J.D. Wilkes singing, playing harmonica and mugging like a vaudeville performer on meth. Stalking the stage, contorting his stringbean form, speaking in tongues and testifying about drifters, the Devil and elusive salvation. Think a Pentecostal Iggy Pop.

South Carolina’s David Lee, the LSS’s heavily tattooed guitarist, mercilessly punished his Gretsch White Falcon guitar like it needed a lesson learned. Lee’s not a flash kind of guy, he approaches the guitar like a construction worker does a jackhammer. He makes the machine a part of him to change the characteristics of the landscape surrounding him.

Mark Robertson slapped his stand-up “outhouse” bass laying a solid slab for Brett Whitacre’s frenetically-controlled drum work.

The hour-and-a-half show packed in cuts from the newly released “Swampblood” (“Old Spur Line,” “Hellwater“) as well as the excellent “Believe” (“Agony Wagon,” “Where’s the Devil When You Need Him?”) and the rest of the bands history that the time seemed go by in a sweaty, frantic, split-second.

For such an aggressive show the New York crowd was impressively animated yet subdued. Lots of yelling and fist-pumping but no moshing in sight.

For most right-thinking folk the Shack Shakers’ firebrand of Dixie-core might be a bit too potent a brew. For others that can trace the cultural link between the 50’s Sun Studio and the 70’s CBGBs, and has a wondering lust for genres, then it’s tonic for the soul.

Alabama’s Pine Hill Haints opened the show with their own brand of backwoods honky-Gothic tunes.

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