Folk & Beyond with Aer Stephen
Thursday November 4, 2010, 6pm
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. Aer Stephen can’t let that happen without one last feature on “God’s Favorite Band”. Aer reminisces with Christina Marrs and the boys, and gets some hints at what the future might bring. The Asylum Street Spankers will perform in Charlottesville one last time as part of the "Spanks for Everything! The Farewell Tour" next week on Wednesday, November 10, 8:00 PM, at The Southern on Charlottesville’s downtown mall.
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 embarked on a massive six-month tour to visit their most enthusiastic markets for a farewell appearance. It started 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. Japanese and European dates are still in the works. The final blowout will happen in their hometown of Austin in early April, almost exactly seventeen years since the Spankers' first performance.
Personnel will include Marrs on vocals, guitars, banjo, ukulele, percussion and musical saw; guitarist/vocalist Nevada Newman, the group's longest serving non-founder; multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Charlie King, a fan favorite returning for his second stint as a Spanker; and a youthful brigade of twenty-something Spankers with two or three years under their belts: drummer Mark Henne, bassist Morgan Patrick Thompson, fiddler/guitarist Shawn Dean and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Trevor Smith.
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.” Defiantly acoustic, fiercely independent and absurdly good, the legacy of the Asylum Street Spankers will place them among the most original American voices of their time.