For over 17 years, the magnificently indefinable Asylum Street Spankers’ incomparable blend of string-band virtuosity, vaudeville panache, and countercultural wit made this all-acoustic revue one of America’s most distinctive live bands.
Since founding the group in 1994 at a booze-fueled party at the Dabbs Hotel along the river in Llano, Texas, vocalist Christina Marrs and harmonica/washboard player/vocalist Wammo led their constantly mutating musical troupe from country-blues revivalism toward smart, challenging music of boundless variety, sophisticated arrangements, stunning showmanship and determined inventiveness.
Though the Spankers are occasionally raunchy and can be more than a little funny, a serious assessment of their catalog reveals a musical inventiveness and formal restlessness that defies easy categorization. Early forays into ragtime (1999’s Hot Lunch) and country blues (2000’s Spanker Madness) pushed the boundaries of those genres, while more recent records like 2007’s family oriented, multiple award winning Mommy Says No! and 2004’s innovative Mercurial abandon genre altogether with complex musical and vocal arrangements.
Along the way, they’ve been lauded by the most prestigious of media outlets, including The New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, The Village Voice, Variety, and The Bob & Tom Show, and garnered nearly 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 Spankers have snowballed from a local favorite at Austin dives to an internationally renowned underground institution. Fueled by an ethos born of their punk roots, Marrs and Wammo have built their lives around making unique music that surprises and entertains.