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JD WIlkes with The Legendary Shack Shakers Unplugged

Doors 4:00pm • Music 8:00pm


A sense of place has long permeated the music of J.D. Wilkes. He’s a native of Paducah, Kentucky, a city located at the confluence of various rivers and cultures — an area where musical variety is in the air and in the blood memory of its people. “Of course, there’s bluegrass and hillbilly songs, but also blues, jazz, old time fiddle music, jug band music, even swamp rock,” says Wilkes. “It’s a great intersection there. I think I epitomize that in the way that I write and perform.”

Wilkes’ solo debut, Fire Dream, represents the apotheoses of that vision: a hillbilly-gypsy epic, it’s an album of art damaged cabaret music, leavened by Latin rhythms and high lonesome hollers. Call it boho bluegrass — maybe what Tom Waits would sound like if he were a Kentucky Colonel (a title that Wilkes happens to hold).  

Proving a compelling firebrand of American roots music during his two decades leading experimental rockabilly group Legendary Shack Shakers, Wilkes has a resume and passions that extend far and wide. A visual artist, filmmaker and author, he’s served as a session player for Merle Haggard, helped soundtrack HBO's True Blood, penned a pair of books (The Vine That Ate the South and Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky) and worked as an ethnomusicologist without portfolio, documenting the dying hillbilly culture of Kentucky.

The Shack Shakers don’t do murder ballads, they do murder boogies. The Shack shakers play fried country rock and roll and they take the stage with an energy and passion that runs circles around all but the most earnest of hardcore bands.  They dip into the darker reaches of American music only to further sully songs of murder and mayhem with a brush dipped in poison..or blood.

The Shack Shakers combine all that is scary and fun about the South (sideshows, folklore and murder ballads) and combine them in an adrenaline-fueled, super-human display of rock and roll heroism.

With special guest CHUCK MEAD!

For the past twenty years, Chuck Mead has been at the forefront of what has come to be known as Americana Music. Raised in Lawrence, Kansas, Chuck has been a professional musician since the age of 13 playing in his parents country band and then leading several roots rock outfits in the midwest most notably the Homestead Grays. He landed on Nashville’s Lower Broadway in 1993 where he co-founded the famed ‘90s Alternative Country quintet BR5-49. The band’s seven albums, three Grammy nominations and the Country Music Association Award for Best Overseas Touring Act of 1997 built an indelible bridge between authentic American Roots music and millions of fans worldwide. Chuck has also co-produced popular tribute albums to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, guest-lectured at Vanderbilt University, and became a staff writer at one of Nashville’s top song publishers. In 2008, he was the Musical Director/Supervisor for the Broadway/West End musical Million Dollar Quartet (which broke the record in Chicago for longest running musical) and acted in the same capacity for the CMT television show Sun Records producing all the re-recordings of classic rock n roll, country, and blues. He has released three solo works starting in 2009 with his acclaimed solo debut album, Journeyman’s Wager on the Grassy Knoll Records label, and continues tour clubs, concert halls and international Rock, Country and Rockabilly festivals

Tickets: $20 advance, $25 day of show...on sale beginning Friday, March 30 at Abilene and online at

Earlier Event: June 19
Greg Klyma Trio
Later Event: June 21
Ray Paul & RPM