Legendary Shack Shakers

Bonfire Presents:

Legendary Shack Shakers

The Pine Hill Haints, The GTVs

Fri, April 8, 2016

8:30 pm


This event is 21 and over

Legendary Shack Shakers
Legendary Shack Shakers
The Legendary Shack Shakers’ hell-for-leather roadshow has earned quite a name for itself with its unique brand of Southern Gothic that is all-at-once irreverent, revisionist, dangerous, and fun. Led by their charismatic, rail-thin frontman and blues-harpist JD Wilkes, the Shack Shakers are a four-man wrecking crew from the South whose explosive interpretations of the blues, punk, rock and country have made fans, critics and legions of potential converts into true believers.

After taking more than a year off to work on other projects (including JD Wilkes's book "Barn Dances & Jamborees Across Kentucky"), the band is re-mobilizing in the fall of 2014 much to the excitement of many a Shack Shaker fanatic. Despite the group’s time off, their reputation for intensity has stuck with them. On stage, JD has been compared to the likes of Iggy Pop, David Byrne, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The Nashville Scene named Wilkes “the best frontman in Nashville” in 2002, while former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra has called JD “the last great Rock and Roll frontman.” Having joined the band in early 2012, garage blues guitar player Rod Hamdallah--who also lends his prowess to Wilkes's side project ‘JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers'--is back in the Shack Shakers’ lineup. The rhythm section is rounded out with Brett Whitacre on drums and Mark Robertson thumping out the upright bass.

Although not legendary upon being named, the band has grown into its reputation the last several years due to their heavy tour schedule, six critically acclaimed studio albums, and songs that have been featured on television shows such as HBO’s True Blood. Past tour mates and fans include Reverend Horton Heat, Rancid, The Black Keys, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, and Hank Williams III. Robert Plant is also a noted Legendary Shack Shakers fan, and picked the band to open for him on his 2005 tour of Europe. Plant named the band's third album Believe as one of his favorite records of 2005. The list of esteemed admirers goes on to include horror novelist Stephen King, who listed “CB Song” as among his iPod’s Top Five in a 2008 Entertainment Weekly article. Such a wealth of devoted fans over the years has only added to the mystique that the Legendary Shack Shakers possess, carrying them down the road toward new creative pursuits and barn-shaking tunes.
The Pine Hill Haints
The Pine Hill Haints
The Pine Hill Haints perform music they consider to be "dead" in the modern world, hence their self-proclaimed "Ghost Music." Some examples of the genres they perform include (but are not limited to) gospel, rockabilly, rock and roll, celtic music, blues music, andbluegrass. While their catalog of songs comprises mainly original material, the band has also been known to cover traditional gospel (Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies, Where The Roses Never Fade), cowboy (I Ride An Old Paint, Back In The Saddle Again), and folk (Goodnight Irene, Oh! Suzanna/Camptown Races) songs.

In addition to their live instruments, the band also utilizes a number of traditional American folk music instruments (such as a fiddle, harmonica, tenor banjo, mandolin, saw, and accordion) on their recordings. Occasionally, members of the Haints will swap instruments or abandon his or her primary instrument altogether, instead performing on one of the aforementioned instruments for a song or two. The band has several former members, and depending on how many happen to be present at a performance, surprise guest performers may accompany the Haints onstage. Such impromptu reunion performances are not completely unexpected at their shows.
The GTVs
The GTVs
Sam Steinig, lead singer and organist for Mount Airy garage soul band the GTVs, was riding the train to the city, casually talking to Scott Galper, someone he’d known from his neighborhood’s babysitting co-op. He’d mentioned his band at the time, Mondo Topless, was on Get Hip Records. And much to their surprise Galper, drummer of The Heretics, was on Get Hip as well.

“What are the odds,” Steinig says with wide eyes, “That the guy that lives two blocks away from me, is in the same babysitting co-op – I mean, I babysat his daughter! – played in a band on the same label just before my last band got on it.”

After Mondo Topless parted ways in 2011, Steinig told Galper he wanted to form a new band. Fast forward two years, and The GTV’s about to release their first LP, Sh’Bang!, on Italy’s Teen Sound Records. But how they got connected to the label, which specializes in garage, psych, mod and powerpop bands, is even more surprising.

Steinig was creating the GTVs Facebook page on New Year’s Day of 2012 and posted some rough recordings the band had done; music they eventually decided to scrap. Before they took the music down, though, he says the band received a message from Massimo del Pozzo of Teen Sound, saying he wanted to put their album out and bring them to Italy for a tour. “And I’m like, ‘well… we haven’t even played a show yet,’” Steinig says. “I was so surprised about it that every few months I would message him and ask about it, just to make sure he was still interested. It was nice to always have that as a goal.”

It couldn’t be more fitting that the GTVs are working with Teen Sound, too. Their mod garage heel-clickers are complete with screaming organ like on “RnBnD,” an instrumental tune that sounds as if it’s nearly about to fly off the tracks. They change pace dramatically on other instrumental tracks with shimmying Bossa nova beats on the title track, “Sh’Bang!” and the cinematic “Sleeper Agent.” Here may be where Jude Dandelion’s bass playing is highlighted best, as he’s locked in with Galper.

Seven of Sh’Bang!’s thirteen songs are instrumental. Collectively, the band feels that’s something that makes them stand out, but stresses the playing is kept under control. They’re a garage band, not a jam band, meaning their solos short and succinct, according to guitarist Pat Wescott.

“We don’t sit and jam on a groove for ten minutes,” he says. “We work on arranging every part, making it like a hook and keeping it to the point.”

Steinig’s love for Stax Records soul is a major inspiration of his songwriting. And the band covers songs from the Stax repertoire, including the Artwoods’ version of Booker T and M.G.’s “Be My Lady.” She’Bang! also includes a harder hitting version of Ray Charles’ “Just About to Lose Your Clown.”

The musicality of the soul men of yesteryear appeals to Steinig and the rest of the band; they make it a point to incorporate elements of the Stax Soul sound into their garage rock. Specifically, they feel their use of dynamics sets them apart from other garage-leaning bands.

“Booker T knew exactly when to make it go fast, when to make it go slow,” Steinig says. “He knew how to make that emotion come out. So, we try to mess with dynamics. And that’s not garage.”

When the band was recording Sh’Bang! this summer, recorded in the same room, allowing their amps to bleed into each others’ mics, and used as few overdubs as possible. This old-school technique forced the band to restart entire songs and play it repeatedly if somebody made a mistake.

The GTVs also boast they didn’t use a single microphone newer than 1975 and recorded Dandelion and Wescott’s background vocals “gang style.” Without a doubt, these guys have a deep and long-standing appreciation for a specific style and time period of that style. But don’t call them a reival band.

“Sure, a lot of the stuff we do is ‘retro-based,’” Wescott says. “But it’s more genre-based and it does put us in some sort of catergory. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.”
Venue Information:
1100 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107