Asylum Street Spankers

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Asylum Street Spankers Wake Up in the Morning and Find a Butt-Load of Wonderful New Asylum Street Spankers Recordings.  Do Any of You Have Any Idea Where These Came From?

If you know the story of the Asylum Street Spankers, you probably know that the group was founded in 1994 at a booze-filled party at the Dabbs Hotel along the river in Llano, Texas, and for the next seventeen years left a swath of astounded audiences in its wake. Well, it appears that America’s favorite old-time hellraisers have once again musically triumphed over overindulgence and memory loss. Or have they?

Christina Marrs, Nevada Newman, Charlie King and the other Spankers do recall getting together to play their final shows ever in April of 2011. They all remember setting up the three-day “The Last Laugh” finale in their hometown of Austin, Texas at the Cactus Café, Ruta Maya and Spider House Ballroom. But, honestly, that’s the last thing any of them remember.

Look: it’s embarrassing for such an acclaimed band as this to have to admit that they honestly don’t remember where their final album came from. What becomes clear upon listening to these recordings is that none of these songs has ever been recorded by the Asylum Street Spankers before. What’s even clearer is this: the band is in their finest form ever here, living up to their firmly cemented reputation as an acoustic powerhouse. Who else can blend string-band virtuosity, multi-instrumental skills, tight vocal harmonies and counterculture wit like this?

Clearly, these were unforgettable nights for all those who packed the clubs and cheered on their internationally beloved hometown heroes. Hazily, the Spankers figure these must have been some of the most treasured personal moments of their 17-year career. Imagine the satisfaction of taking their fans through one last journey together, from the Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville echoes of their sound, to the country, blues, jazz and swing songs they’ve borrowed and created, all filtered through the punk-rock ethos at their core. “It must have really been something,” Christina muses.

All good things must come to an end… and as far as the Asylum Street Spankers’ live show that has awed and amazed audiences for years, this week is it! Here’s how the Spankers describe the final three-show extravaganza in their hometown of Austin, TX.

Thursday, April 21 “Givin’ the People What They Want” — 8pm, The Cactus Cafe

The top 20 Spankers songs of all time, as chosen by you via online poll, will be the setlist. Trust us, there are some doozy surprises on tap, plus lots of songs we haven’t played in years and we promise a surprise guest you will never expect. The Grey Brothers Trio, starring our former hot shot piano man Reese Grey, opens the evening. And, if that won’t do it for you, maestro Stanley Smith is sitting in all night long!

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We’re pleased to announce that the Independent Music Awards have named God’s Favorite Band, by the Asylum Street Spankers, as “Best Gospel Album” in their 10th annual awards.

The winners in more than 70 Song, Album, Music Video and Design categories, winnowed from thousands of submissions from around the globe, were determined by a panel of 62 influential music industry pros.  We’re thinking it was Tom Waits’ vote that put the Spankers over the top.

Voting now continues in the “Vox Populi” category, where another set of winners will be determined directly by music fans from around the world.

Check out the Independent Music Awards’ interview with the Spankers here.  And don’t forget to vote in the Vox Populi category by July 11!

Here’s a heads-up on three upcoming projects we’re excited about.

Good Thang, the new disc from The Soul of John Black, is just around the corner with a June 7 release.  The album explores R&B, rock, pop, and electronica, but it’s all about love: JB’s love for classic soul and blues, love of driving old-school synth-funk bass, and, most important, love for his family.  Check out a “first listen” preview track below.

Mary Flower is also in the studio recording a new album of her inimitable blend of acoustic blues, folk, and ragtime, which will be available in late summer.  The session sees Mary joined by a series of duet collaborators in what is shaping up to be her most intimate recording yet.

And the Asylum Street Spankers’ swan song, a CD/DVD combo entitled The Last Laugh, is in the works for a fall release.  Stay tuned for a near-future post with details of the Spankers’ finale extravaganza shows next month in Austin.

Finalists in the 10th annual Independent Music Awards have been announced, and for the 4th year in a row, Yellow Dog Records artists have earned recognition.

Eden Brent‘s celebrated album Ain’t Got No Troubles is nominated for the Blues Album award, while her song “Leave Me Alone” is nominated for Adult Contemporary Song.

Meanwhile, the Asylum Street Spankers‘ “agnostic gospel” album God’s Favorite Band is nominated for the Gospel Album award.

The general public is invited to vote in each of these categories for the IMA’s “Vox Populi” award — visit the links below to check out songs from these albums and vote! Voting goes through July 11.

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.

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The Asylum Street Spankers joined NPR’s Liane Hansen for an interview and performance, aired nationwide on Weekend Edition Sunday.  Hear live versions of songs from the new album, God’s Favorite Band.  Discover which Spanker was twirling a fire baton that night in Llano, Texas, which one was conceived on a Slip ‘n Slide, and what sort of vehicle God might drive on his anonymous visits to Earth.

Austin’s postmodern jug bandtakes a wide left turn with the world’s first agnostic gospel album.  Mixing raucous old traditionals with wryly humanistic originals from co-bandleader Wammo, the all-acoustic roots mob pays homage to one of America’s seminal musical styles while staking out a theology of healthy skepticism leavened with tolerance.  With special appearances from emeritus band members Guy Forsyth and Stanley Smith!

A man works long hours at the circus, cleaning up after the animals and giving enemas to constipated elephants. A friend, observing the menial nature of the work, offers to help the man find another job. The man replies, “What? And give up show biz?”

The punch line to that worn-out vaudeville joke served as the title when the Asylum Street Spankers set up shop for two weeks in January 2008 at New York’s Barrow Street Theatre to look back on their underwhelming career and complain about their place in the music world. Juicing their acclaimed live show with a double shot of theatricality, the Spankers presented a musical revue and memoir of the troupe’s fourteen year history. Featuring many of the most popular songs in their large repertoire along with tales of the ups and downs of life on the road, the show ran for fourteen performances, garnering good critical response, strong ticket sales and many free drinks for the band.

All fourteen shows were recorded, then edited to make this album.

“What? And Give Up Show Biz?” contains adult humor, including frank discussions of sexuality, drug use and/or rock and roll. It also contains four-part harmonies, blues, country, pop, jazz, rock and hip-hop songs, inventively clever arrangements, and a musical saw.