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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bluegrass ballads set to spank club congress

    Tucson really doesn’t get enough bands to stop by and sing passionate bluegrass ballads about boogers. The Asylum Street Spankers, a seven-piece country-blues revival, who will be playing at Club Congress tonight, have the rare distinction of being one such band.

    The Spankers’ naturalistic sound is permeated with some of the most varied and obscure mainstays of American folk/blues instrumentation, including washboard, banjo, upright bass, singing saw, fiddle, dobro, harmonica, mandolin and even a little clarinet, making it hard to precisely define the madcap breed of acoustic antics that gives the Spankers their eclectic sound and electric presence. The irreverent introduction to their newest album What? And Give Up Show Biz? – a live, double CD chronicling the band’s recent off-Broadway revue of the same name – describes the Spankers as a paragon of “”heavenly harmonies, riotous rhythms and stunning showmanship”” and cites them as “”God’s favorite band!”” God could not be reached for comment, but fortunately Wammo, one of the Austin-based band’s founding members, was.

    Wammo contributes his harmonica, washboard, and lyrical chops to the Spankers, and in 1994 he helped form the band along with the multi-talented vocalist/stringed-instrument-aficionado Christina Marrs. “”I’ve been playing harmonica forever”” , Wammo said of his own musical experience, “”And I’ve been playing washboard since the Spankers started, about ’94.””

    The band has seen many changes in its roster over the years and has produced at least eight albums under their own Spanks-A-Lot Records label, but their style and subject matter has always come from the heart. Wammo said of his own lyrics, “”(I’m inspired by) everything from booze, to sex, to politics, to whatever comes into my head.”” A quick visit to the band’s myspace page will confirm this, the first song queued up on the Spankers’ media player being a down-home ode to alcohol called “”Beer”” (“”Well I’ve tried ’em all and I might sound queer but my favorite drug is a nice cold beer!””).

    The Spankers have played Club Congress many times before, and are excited to be back this week. The band’s roster will be slightly altered from their recent off-Broadway stint for the ongoing tour, losing vocalist Christina Marrs to her newborn baby, but gaining the skills of clarinetist Stanley Smith, who has contributed to many of the Spankers’ studio albums but has not been on the road in some time. “”Stanley brings the clarinet, and a lot of soul”” said Wammo, excited to have his old comrade back on stage.

    Attendees of tonight’s show should expect to hear crowd-pleasing tracks from the Spankers’ new revue, along with a fistful of rip-roarin’ numbers going back through their entire catalog. “”We just get out there and play whatever the hell we feel like”” Wammo ensured, guaranteeing a one-of-a-kind set every night.

    So if you should find your mind lingering on thoughts of beer, broads, and boogers this evening, don’t hesitate to head over to Club Congress and check out an undeniably unorthodox avalanche of acoustic excellence, courtesy of the Asylum Street Spankers. The show begins at 9 p.m. with tickets for $12. This event is 21+.

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