J.D. Wilkes Discusses His New Fire Dream Album and Tour with the Legendary Shack Shakers
Written by Camden Meyers
Photos by Joshua Black Wilkins
Think of the items that are currently on your nightstand. For most, the assortment includes a phone, alarm clock, and probably a trinket or two collected from the day’s activities. For J.D. Wilkes, the bedside table must always have a writing utensil readily available for documenting organic inspiration, which often comes in the form of dreams. In the fleeting moments between consciousness and awareness J.D. finds an alternate reality where imagination is at the helm and it’s here that he was able to derive the comprehensive sound of his new album Fire Dream, which releases to the public this spring!
For those who are not as familiar, J.D.’s musical career has deep roots. During our interview he elaborated on the first gig he got paid for, playing as a teenager on the waves of a southern river as the musical entertainment for a boat party. Years later he formed what is now his most notable musical venture, The Legendary Shack Shakers. As the vibrant and charismatic frontman, J.D. led the Shack Shakers on several marches around the country to tour and share their music with the masses of fans they had accumulated with their gritty, southern-gothic sounds. Highly touted in reviews by the likes of Robert Plant, Billboard, Billy Bob Thornton and more, The Shack Shakers cemented their reputation as a “must-see” for every fan of authentic southern sounds that keep your foot tapping and your ears ringing.
Over the years, J.D. has taken a couple hiatus’ from the Shack Shakers to work on other projects. In addition to professionally playing the harmonica, banjo, and vocals J.D. is also an author having written titles such as Barn Dances and Jamboree’s Across Kentucky and The Vine that Ate the South in which he takes his affinity for words and translates it into captivating pieces that are published and available for purchase nationwide! J.D. also took some time to partake in the group The Dirt Daubers in which he spent several years writing, recording and touring. Beginning with a more “unplugged” sound and ending with a more electric note, you can find everything you’re looking for from this project. From storied classics like “Hidey Hole” to exciting anthems like “Bad Moon," J.D.’s time with The Dirt Daubers yielded very sweet fruit.
Now J.D. has turned his sights on his solo album Fire Dream. Releasing very soon, Fire Dream is loaded with lyrical imagery that ignites your imagination from the first note of the harmonica to the last pluck of the banjo. Describing the album with precision accuracy, J.D. says that the only way to get the correct feel of the album is to “imagine a sideshow blowing in on a Caribbean gale, only to land smack dab in a Kentucky junkyard." The title song is reminiscent of a malevolent anthem whispered in your ear by the antagonist of your favorite southern folktale. The instruments are played to perfection and J.D. uses his incredible vocal range to carry you across the plains of “Fire Dream” to the horizon of your musical prowess and shows you the view.
Fortunately for myself and all J.D. Wilkes fans alike, he and the Shack Shakers will be in Seattle at the Fun House on March 27th to showcase their music. J.D. told me he loves the people, the atmosphere, the culture and the art that embodies the Pacific Northwest and that he is very excited to return on this tour. We are excited for his return as well!