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 (Arkam Records, January 2015) 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. In the last two years, Wilkes has continued to develop his solo project, having toured with Charlie Parr and The Tillers, as well as performing at the 2015 Winnipeg Folk Festival.
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. Regarding the group’s "southern gothic" lyricism, Billboard Magazine said "[Wilkes writes] mind-blowing lyrics rife with Biblical references and ruminations of life, death, sin and redemption.” Legendary Shack Shakers have toured with the likes of Robert Plant and The Black Keys, among others. Their music has been featured in HBO’s True Blood series, and in a long-running Geico commercial.