I've already exposed my weakness for cool craziness in music—there's too damn little of it in any age or era—so this was a very welcome 2-CD set retrieved from the mailbox as the letters and adverts cowered away from it in the corner, muttering "What the hell…?". The Asylum Street Spankers (A.S.S. to you) is an ensemble founded 14 years ago by Christina Marrs and Wammo in the aftermath of a boozed-up blowout in Llano, Texas, the perfect place for such doin's. From, ahem!, innocent beginnings began a troupe managing to catch the approval of Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and a slew of high-level, high-brow, high-off-the-mimeo-fumes crit rags. The accolades are quite deserved, trust me.
Picture the Prairie Home Companion crew bongloading hashcakes with gin chasers at a trailer park BBQ in the delta after a day spent accidentally inhaling paint fumes from the dump next door, and you have a rough idea what you're in for. Actually, the octet is down home and friendly, if, er, non-stop cynicism is your idea of warm-heartedness, not to mention talented and more than ready to raise a ruckus at the drop of a hat…and they'll bring the hat. Basing in cuntry (<—no mistake! listen to My Country's Calling Me) & blues, 40s vaudeville, Dixie klezmer, jug, blue humor, tons o' tude 'n more 'n a lil' hot playing (harp; musical saw; various string thingies; and what they call 'violin'—I say 'fiddle'; ). But wait, here's a sample lyric:
Speed is a drag, it's a big big drag
Well, I tried 'em all, and it might sound queer
…and it only gets better after that. Ahh, but everything's live, too! Culled from 14 performances in a two-week off-Broadway run in NYC, there's chaos a-plenty, smokin' licks, Looney Tunes wise-acre-ry, yelpin' beltin' by Christina, and—and I swear to God this is true—Tuva throat singing from Charlie King! Now that's quality!! See if you can get it at Carnegie Hall. I don't think so.
And this goes on for two whole hours! Are ya a conspiracy buff? Lay an ear to My Baby in the CIA". Hankering for drama? Catch the harrowing real-life Bus Story. Missing yer Saturday Nite lobotomal B&D? Asylum Street Blues will fix ya right up (rocks like a mutha, too). You'll be toe-tappin', butt wigglin', grinnin', spittin', cussin', and Great Good Gawd A'mighty only knows what all, but you'll not for a moment regret ya wandered in for the show—gah-roan-teed. And one last thing, when all's said and done: Bill Hicks woulda loved these guys.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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