Live Review: Asylum Street Spankers @ Jammin Java, July 13

Well, I broke my leg this past weekend playing ice hockey, so I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to see the Austin’s finest Asylum Street Spankers this past weekend. Fortunately for me, I was able to round up my grandmother’s old wheel chair and make what turned out to be an always enjoyable performance by those madcap musicians.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, they play old-timey country and blues, but with a definite contemporary feel and some borderline raunchy lyrics. You’ve got your steel guitar, stand-up bass, washboard, harmonica, jews harp, singing saw (gotta love the singing saw), a bit of the ol’ jug–essentially, all the classic Americana instruments anyone could want. They had played a children’s show earlier in the day, so it was obvious that the band was ready to open up a little during their night time performance. Of course, they played some favorites (“Winning the War on Drugs,” “Beer”) and, as usual, played a boatload of songs with which I was completely unfamiliar. The line-up tends to change every now and again, and the only two performers I definitely knew were Wammo and Christina Marrs, but I’ve got to say the current line-up is damn near stellar. Jakob Breitbach is the best damn fiddler I’ve seen in ages and Morgan Patrick Thompson was just as strong on the upright bass. Charlie King’s take on Eastern chanting was not to be missed, either.

They played two sets, each lasting nearly an hour, and I have to say, I’ve never seen so small a crowd (less than 100 folks) make so much noise and get so into an act. It was obvious that a good time was had by all. The only low point of the evening for me was when I somehow managed to insert the disc I bought at the show actually between the car stereo and the dashboard, but I’m going to blame the Percocet on that one. Even breaking one’s legs has its own advantages.

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