The Legendary Shack Shakers (originally Those or Th' ) are an American rockabilly/blues band that formed in Paducah, Kentucky in the mid-1990s. They are inspired by rock 'n roll, country blues, old time music, carnival music, swamp rock, and other obscure Southern music genres. The band originally had a traditional rockabilly sound, but later began to rely more on its rock 'n roll and "southern gothic" influences.
Th' Legendary Shack Shakers haven't called their fifth studio album Swampblood for nothing -- there's plenty of the band's usual amped-up Dixie-core frenzy on this album, but as usual they continue to expand their musical palette with each album, and on this set the Tennessee hell-raisers have added a healthy portion of classic swamp rock to the menu. The title cut sounds like Tony Joe White if he'd been born under an especially bad sign, the dark harp-enhanced shuffle of "Old Spur Line" calls up the ghost of Slim Harpo, and "Hellwater" could be the best Creedence Clearwater Revival track John Fogerty and company never bothered to record. There's a lot more stylistic shape-shifting on Swampblood; "Eastern Flesh" and "Cheat the Hangman" show the band can still crank the tempos with the best of them, "The Deadenin'" and "When I Die" are a gloomy but energetic slices of Southern gothic, "Down and Out" is a weird ghostly march into the unknown, "He Ain't Right" is a whacked-out rockabilly stomp, and "Angel Lust"'s rollicking piano could pass for jazz in dim light. Whatever th' Shack Shakers do, they do full-out, and Swampblood offers ample evidence that these guys have instrumental skills to go along with their imagination and mania -- David Lee's guitar work is superb regardless of the context,Colonel J.D. Wilkes' vocals and harmonica are both feral but superbly controlled, and bassist Mark Robertson and Brett Whitacre are one powerfully tight rhythm section. While some have accused th' Legendary Shack Shakers of being more about schtick than music, a quick spin of their albums tells the real story -- they offer up something different each time they step into the recording studio, andSwampblood shows they aren't running out of steam anytime soon.
Founding member J.D. Wilkes is the band's vocalist and also plays the harmonica. Musical maverick Joe Buck joined the band in the early 21st Century and played all the upright bass, guitars, and drums on the group's first wide release release, Cockadoodledon't (2003). Wilkes is noted for his theatric stage performances, which have been compared to those of Iggy Pop, David Byrne, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Joe Buck left the band in late 2003 and began touring and recording with Hank Williams III. Mark Robertson currently plays upright bass, and Brett Whitacre is the drummer. Duane Denison, member of recently reformed The Jesus Lizard (and formerly of Hank Williams III) joined the band in 2008. Current garage blues guitar player Rod Hamdallah joined the group in early 2012.
The band initially gained notoriety when GEICO used their track "CB Song" on their year-long "Sunglasses" television ad. Horror novelist Stephen King would later list the same track as among his iPod's Top Five in a 2008 Entertainment Weekly article. That same year, the Legendary Shack Shakers' tune "Swampblood" was featured on the soundtrack for HBO's True Blood, the CD release of which went on to receive a Grammy nomination the following year.
Throughout the mid 2000s, the band regularly toured with The Reverend Horton Heat, who also appears as a guest guitarist on three tracks from their 2006 album, Pandelirium. Former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra also guested on the album's opening track, "Ichabod."
In 2006, the band opened up for Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville TN.
Robert Plant is a noted Legendary Shack Shakers fan, and hand-picked the band to open for him on his 2005 tour of Europe. Plant also named "Believe" his favorite record of 2005.
The band released their 6th studio album; AgriDustrial, on April 13, 2010 on their own Colonel Knowledge record label.
Occasionally, Wilkes and the Shack Shakers appear in the Danish theatrical production FUBAR., a production of Copenhagen’s Mute Comp Theatre. The play, which tackles the subject of illegal gun trade around the globe, features a speaking part by Wilkes. After performing at the 2013 production of FUBAR, the band resumed their two-year hiatus. Currently, Legendary Shack Shakers is planning a new LP to be released on the band's 20th anniversary in 2015.