After nearly seventeen magnificent years, underground legends the Asylum Street Spankers are retiring from the relentless touring schedule that has been a hallmark of their storied career. Although fan support is stronger than ever, the challenges of keeping a seven piece band and its crew on the road have also increased dramatically. With the departure of co-founder Wammo due to family commitments, fellow co-founder, vocalist and musical director Christina Marrs is the last original Spanker standing, having seen over 50 musicians come and go (and sometimes come again) through the act’s history. She’s decided that it’s time for the group to come to its end, as all good things must.
Faced with an outcry from fans demanding “one more Spanking”, the group has announced a massive six-month tour to visit their most enthusiastic markets for a farewell appearance. Starting at the Mucky Duck in Houston on September 11, the Spankers will perform forty-eight concerts across the United States in five legs, the last of which hits Colorado and New Mexico in March 2011. The final blowout will happen in their hometown of Austin in early April, almost exactly seventeen years since the Spankers’ first performance.
The magnificently indefinable group was born in 1994 at a booze and hallucinogen-fueled party at the Dabbs Hotel along the river in Llano, Texas. For the next decade and a half, Marrs and Wammo led their constantly mutating musical troupe from country-blues revivalism toward original compositions, intricate vocal and musical arrangements, new works for the theater stage and sociopolitical commentary.
With regular touring throughout Europe, Japan and the US, the Spankers snowballed from a local favorite at Austin dives to an internationally renowned underground institution, widely considered one of the best live acts working today. Along the way, they’ve been lauded by the most prestigious of media outlets, including The New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, The Village Voice, Variety, and The Bob & Tom Show, and garnered over a million views on YouTube with their anti-oil war, pro-soldier anthem “Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV.”
Their discography, available through Yellow Dog Records, spans nine albums, including the critically acclaimed “agnostic gospel” album God’s Favorite Band, What? And Give Up Show Biz?, a two disc live document of the group’s two week off-Broadway run at New York’s Barrow Street Theatre, and Mommy Says No!, one of the most honored family oriented releases of 2007, as well as several EPs, live official “bootlegs” and two full length concert DVDs.
Defiantly acoustic, fiercely independent and absurdly good, the legacy of thewill place them among the most original American voices of their time.