JD Wilkes is an American musician, visual artist, author, filmmaker and self-proclaimed “southern surrealist”. He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (notably on harmonica and banjo), having recorded with such artists as Merle Haggard, John Carter Cash, Mike Patton, and Hank Williams III. Wilkes’ latest solo album ‘Cattle In The Cane’ includes his own renditions of traditional tunes (mostly old-time mountain music), with performances by elder Kentucky fiddler Charlie Stamper (the brother of Art Stamper) on many of the tracks.
Wilkes is perhaps best known as the founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band formed in the mid 90s. Fans of his work with Legendary Shack Shakers include Stephen King, Robert Plant and former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. ‘Rolling Stone’ named Wilkes as the “best frontman” at the 2015 Americana Music Association Festival for his performance with the band. Legendary Shack Shakers have toured with the likes of Robert Plant and The Black Keys, among others.
JD Wilkes has been compared to iconoclasts like David Byrne, Iggy Pop, or Jerry Lee Lewis, and with his small, wiry frame and intense, incandescent performances, it’s not hard to see why. But while he plays the carnival barker onstage, he’s a dedicated lifelong student of true Southern culture. A resident of Paducah, Kentucky, Wilkes is a Kentucky Colonel, an honorable title bestowed by the state’s Governor upon those with a connection to, or who are famous residents of the state of Kentucky.