Swampblood marks the third and final installment of our “Tentshow Trilogy” series for Yep Roc Records. Like any trilogy, the plots and settings change while the themes remain. Just think Star Warsbut taking place inside some god-forsaken hole, instead of outer space.
With the other two records set within the inner sanctum of a tent revival (Believe) or the circus sideshow (Pandelerium) the motif continues with a bone-chilling visit to our own canvas-shrouded graveside service.
Apalpable note of finality hangs in the air—I made sure of that. But the psycho-blues cacophony, echoing from a nearby swamp, drowns it all out before things get too morbid. “Swampblood” is th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers’ triumphant return to our rockin’ hillbilly/blues roots.
Inspired by my new home in rural (and yes, swampy) western Kentucky, the Swampblood sound juxtaposes prickly banjo rolls with blues riffs a la Tony Joe White, Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester. These two distinct Appalachian and delta flavors find common ground here. It is, after all, the music inherent in the crickets, crows and landscape of my new digs in the toxic bogs of Dixie—believe it or not, this is not a complaint.
Lyrically speaking, Swampblood lures you into a whole new realm of southerngothic goings-on. It is a cruel place, populated by three-legged dogs, lynch mobs and fallen forests...lustful angels, bloodthirsty hill folk, and the bloated bodies of beached bovines.
Waterlogged corpses bob in the flooded streets of yore...crossed-eyed grannies pluck tuneless banjers...pigs run around with no clothes on. Oddly enough, much of the lyrical reportage of Swampbloodis based in truth. That’sthe scarypart. The local legends I was told as a troubled kid are passed on like some weird mix of classic oral tradition and primal scream therapy...The Brothers Grimm meet Sigmund Freud.
From start to finish sixteen tracks dot your passage from dusk, to dawn, and onward to a new morning in our bright and sunny South, where hope is reborn. A hope not in Reconstruction, but in the deconstruction and rebirth of our many myths, songs, traditions and anything else down South that has gone horribly, horribly…right.
In much of the same way, my upcoming film Seven Signsdocuments a similar journey. In the face of encroaching urban sprawl and the homogeny of sterile “McMansions” and mega-churches, I set off with a film crew on a mission to find the honest, soulful (and often strange) American South.
At its gnarled core, Seven Signsinterweaves the stories of several musicians, artists and local legends to show how the Southern Experience is different from (and invaluable to) the rest of the world.
With its soundtrack featuring performances from the new southern underground (and th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers of course), Seven Signs is worth a look and alisten. A tentative Thanksgiving 2007 release date is scheduled for its premiere. Having created a banquet for the eyes, ears and twisted minds of the world at large, I hope you’ll enjoy both of these offerings in the months to come. “When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs as you do, you can relax a little and use morenormal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock, to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.”—Flannery O’Connor
—THE COLONEL J.D. WILKES, June 2007