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Evenings Upstairs – Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky
J.D. Wilkes discusses the history of the traditional “barn dance” and other musical get-togethers of Kentucky’s past and present.
Complete with a slideshow of his colorful photographs, this talk also features Wilkes’ performance of Kentucky banjo tunes, harmonica playing, and a Q&A session.
Co-sponsored by Kentucky Humanities an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.
J.D. Wilkes is an artist and musician living in Paducah, Kentucky. He has recorded with Merle Haggard, Hank Williams III, John Carter Cash, Sturgill Simpson and others. Wilkes is also a documentary filmmaker and has appeared in music videos for Shooter Jennings and Wanda Jackson, to name a few.
Wilkes is perhaps best known as the founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band formed in the mid-90s. Fans of his work with Legendary Shack Shakers include Stephen King, Robert Plant and former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. Rolling Stone named Wilkes as the “best frontman” at the 2015 Americana Music Association Festival for his performance with the band. Regarding the group’s “southern gothic” lyricism, Billboard Magazine said “[Wilkes writes] mind-blowing lyrics rife with Biblical references and ruminations of life, death, sin and redemption.” Legendary Shack Shakers have toured with the likes of Robert Plant and The Black Keys, among others.
He is the author of Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky, a history of traditional music get-togethers in the Bluegrass & the novel The Vine That Ate The South, a book praised by NPR as “undeniably one of the smartest, most original Southern Gothic novels to come along in years.”