Session 152: Legendary Shack Shakers // Jesse Dayton<- Back
May 06, 2017
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.
Jesse Dayton has been building a cult following around the globe playing festivals around North America and Europe for years with his guitar shredding, country-infused, Americana sound. As a critic’s darling for his first record on Justice Records, Raisin’ Cain (1995), and a number one Americana radio ranking, Jesse was hired at a young age to play lead guitar on some of the last recordings, and play live, by country legends Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson & Glen Campbell and he’s been featured in many guitar magazines.
Sensing a shift in the music business climate, Jesse formed his own label in 2002, Stag Records, and began his most prolific recording period. While recording five solo records, one duet record, one live record, all on Stag, as well as two soundtrack recordings (Devil’s Rejects, Halloween 2) for rocker/director Rob Zombie, Jesse managed to act in movies and music videos, produce several projects for other artists, write two screenplays, and most recently produced his first writer/directorial movie role, “Zombex,” starring Malcolm McDowell. All while performing over 150 dates per year with his ace touring band.
Jesse portrays legendary political satirist and novelist Kinky Friedman in the stage production, Becoming Kinky: The World According to Kinky Friedman. Jesse was cast immediately after his first audition. In 2012, he released a complete project of Kinky Friedman penned songs titled, “Jesse Sings Kinky,” which opened a whole new chapter in the career of such a prolific artist. Today, he’s putting the finishing touches on the soundtrack music for “Zombex.” Down and dirty, southern swamp music, thicker than the New Orleans humidity. The music from “Zombex” brings Jesse’s musical carnival ride full circle, and back to the Texas/Louisiana border where it all began.