Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Feb 12th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

What if God Was One of Us

music_AsylumStreetAsylum Street Spankers give God a ride on a new gospel tour

When a band that’s known for its comical forays into drug- and sex-themed tracklists puts out a live album of gospel tunes, heads are going to turn. “Doesn’t that seem like the natural order?” jokes Asylum Street Spankers’ founding member and washboard enthusiast, Wammo. “I don’t think anyone in the band is very religious, but there’s more to gospel than just religion. Musically, these songs are amazing!”

“These songs” are gospel covers, plus two original songs (written by Wammo) on Asylum Street Spankers’ ninth release, humbly entitled God’s Favorite Band. It’s no subtle endeavor, but the Spankers are no subtle ensemble.

For nearly 16 years, Wammo and vocalist Christina Marrs have been leading the wildly elaborate seven-piece in its explosive show of roots rock and swing jazz that’s made the band a landmark sight to see in their hometown of Austin, Texas—and beyond. Picking and plucking old-timey strings, pummeling sarcastic banter, and, yes, spanking fans, the Spankers (named after a state asylum in Austin) unleash the kind of irreverent vaudevillian performance that’s happy to push limits. Now, they’re adding the traditional “Wading in the Water” to a repertoire that includes originals like “The Scrotum Song.”

When the Salvation and Sin Tour comes to Santa Cruz on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at Don Quixote’s, Asylum Street Spankers will perform songs off the new album for a more repentant first half, before ending the show with their older songs that celebrate more wayward topics.

Before committing a live CD and subsequent tour to a new cache of religious songs, the Spankers were playing Sunday brunch gospel shows in Austin. The performances began as Marrs’ idea (“She’s the big gospel singer in the band”), and Wammo credits her for turning him on to the fact that gospel encompasses plenty more than simply religious commentary. But, it’s Wammo’s own original lyrics that stand out as signature Spankers fodder for their fans on “Volkswagen Thing” and “Right and Wrong.” While your typical gospel act sings about what drives God’s will, the Spankers sing about what God might drive. Yes, as in cars.

On “Volkswagen Thing,” Wammo discusses the kind of ride he thinks God would want to have if He (or She) ever came down from the heavens. The impetus for the song stems from the songwriter’s need to secularize those gospel brunches—perhaps out of guilt for his weekend sins. At the time, he would come home late from his Saturday night gigs in Houston, landing in Austin at 5 a.m. in order to be up and ready to sing gospel at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. The remnants of the previous show weren’t easy to shake off.

“I was too hung over to be hypocritical,” Wammo admits. “I wasn’t going to sing all these songs about God and Jesus while I’m sitting there drinking Hair of the Dog from my last night’s romp. So I wanted to come up with a gospel song that I felt comfortable singing to stay true to my own roots.” He mulled over the question ‘If God came down to earth and wanted to stay anonymous, what would he drive?’ and found his answer in the Volkswagen Thing, which he says came to him “because it’s truly one of the ugliest cars ever made.”

Though a celebrity in his own right, the hard-stomping multi-instrumentalist gets to indulge in a flashier life than the Almighty. “I drive a 1965 Imperial that stands out like nothing else,” he says. “But then again, I’m not God.”


Asylum Street Spankers perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. For more information, call 603-2294.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster