JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers

An interview with Kentucky Colonel and Rockabilly Legend, JD Wilkes
by Mike Huberty
August 2014

JD Wiles & The Dirt Daubers  - photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

JD Wiles & The Dirt Daubers
photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Rocker from the Bluegrass State and real-deal “Kentucky Colonel” (an honor bestowed by the governor on notable Kentuckians), JD Wilkes, still leads popular punkabilly (seriously revved up 50s style rock n’ roll) LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS, but on the side he’s developed a formidable side project called JD WILKES AND THE DIRT DAUBERS.

Originally an acoustic group that played old-time songs, the Dirt Daubers feature JD on vocals and harmonica and his wife Jessica singing and playing standup bass. However, for their latest album, “Wild Moon”, they’ve plugged in electric style and have made a bluesy and soulful rock record that can fit perfectly next to THE BLACK KEYS or JACK WHITE. It’s a Southern Gothic spin on modern blues and “Wild Moon” is even produced by punk legend, Cheetah Chrome (ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS, DEAD BOYS), and is being released on his label, Plowboy Records. They’re coming to Wisconsin on September 24th at the Shitty Barn in Spring Green and on the 25th at The Lyric Room in Green Bay. We got a few minutes with JD to preview the upcoming shows.

Maximum Ink: What got you into music originally?
JD Wilkes:
My mom was a piano teacher so there was always music in the house. But it wasn’t until I heard Muddy Waters’ ‘Mean Red Spider’ on the radio that I got into blues and wanted to see what that felt like to play. It wasn’t long before I had a little garage band and was gigging around town as a little blues dork at age 17.

MI: Who were your favorites and why Rockabilly?
Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins were early favorites. My gateway into rockabilly came from seeing Dex Romweber in a film about Athens, GA (Note: The film was called “Athens, GA: Inside/Out” and it featured bands from the area like the B-52s and R.E.M., as well.) Sun Records and RCA compilations of the original rockabilly guys followed soon after. Then I was off to the races. Rockabilly allowed me to play blues in a way that was ok for white folks. I got into country music later through rockabilly too.

MI: What would you recommend as the song to listen to for people who are listening to you for the first time?
‘Wild Moon’ just about sums it up; it was inspired by a tragic event involving a local flood. Tragic Appalachian ballads are a big influence on my writing. Also listen to Jessica’s ‘Apples and Oranges’. Jessica’s tune was inspired by her English grandmother’s old sayings. Colloquialisms abound in our songwriting.

MI: What the Hell is a “Dirt Dauber”?
“Dirt Daubers” are little waspy buggers. Perhaps we resemble that comment.

MI: What are some of the things that inspire you when you write?
Southern folklore, murder ballads, sayings from the south. These are things in danger of becoming extinct in our glitzy modern times, without someone highlighting how relevant and cool they are.

MI: What’s your live show all about and what’s been your favorite gig so far?
Much charisma, danceability, hooks and melodies, soul, grease, and sweat. Our last gig at the Shitty Barn was pretty special, actually! We just played a tiki bar at the end of a pier over the ocean. That was nice. It’s hard to pick a favorite though.

MI: Any last words for Wisconsinites before the show?
Come on out and have a good time. Don’t just sit at home thumb-fucking your iPhone. Enjoy life. Get sweaty. And so forth…

(3462) Page Views

JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers Online:
Facebook Wiki

JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers
CD: Wild Moon Record Label: Plowboy Records
Purchase Wild Moon on Amazon
Download Wild Moon on Amazon