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J.D. Wilkes


  1. 1.
    Fire Dream
  2. 2.
    Down in the Hidey Hole
  3. 3.
    Hoboes Are My Heroes
  4. 4.
    Rain and Snow
  5. 5.
    Wild Bill Jones
A sense of place has long permeated the music of J.D. Wilkes. He’s a native of Paducah, Kentucky, a city located at the confluence of various rivers and cultures — an area where musical variety is in the air and in the blood memory of its people.
“Of course, there’s bluegrass and hillbilly songs, but also blues, jazz, old time fiddle music, jug band music, even swamp rock,” says Wilkes. “It’s a great intersection there. I think I epitomize that in the way that I write and perform.”
Wilkes’ solo debut, Fire Dream, represents the apotheoses of that vision: a hillbilly-gypsy epic, it’s an album of art damaged cabaret music, leavened by Latin rhythms and high lonesome hollers. Call it boho bluegrass — maybe what Tom Waits would sound like if he were a Kentucky Colonel (a title that Wilkes happens to hold).
The album is due out on Big Legal Mess through Fat Possum Records February 16, 2018.
Proving a compelling firebrand of American roots music during his two decades leading experimental rockabilly group @LegendaryShackShakers, Wilkes has a resume and passions that extend far and wide. A visual artist, filmmaker and author, he’s served as a session player for Merle Haggard, helped soundtrack HBO’s True Blood, penned a pair of books (The Vine That Ate the South and Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky) and worked as an ethnomusicologist without portfolio, documenting the dying hillbilly culture of Kentucky.


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