Who: Colonel J.D. Wilkes, Kentucky native, singer and blues harpist for Th' Legendary Shack Shakers.
Why: Once designated the city's "Best Front Man" by Nashville Scene, Col. Wilkes is likely America's only roots-rocker with direct ties to Ernest T. Bass (he travels with a "tinhorn" gold tooth), Gallagher (front-row patrons at Shack shows are often baptized with spit, snot and sweat) and a passed-on poultry patriarch (see below).
CityBeat: What does J.D. stand for?
Wilkes: It stands for Joshua Devan.
Does your family call you J.D.?
They call me Josh. And I can always gauge how old my friends are on whether or not they call me Josh or J.D. The friends that I've had for the longest time call me Josh.
Why colonel? Why not private or lieutenant?
Well, it's not a military designation. It's actually an honorable order bestowed upon me by the governor of Kentucky. Same type of colonelhood that was given to Colonel Sanders and Henry Clay and a few other notable Kentuckians. I guess I got mine for contributing to the Kentucky arts, although I'm sure if he were to look into what it is I actually do now, he'd probably revoke my colonelhood and take the certificate back.
Does the governor lay hands on you or do you just get a piece of paper in the mail?
There's no secret societies or sacrifices or blood rituals involved. Every year the Kentucky Colonels gather at the Kentucky Derby for a big ball and barbecue. It's a gala event where everyone dresses in their string ties and brings a date. They're usually dressed like Southern belles with bonnets and hoop skirts. It's kind of like a re-enactment of sorts, but I've never been to that. It seems a little nerdy.
What's your favorite meal?
Oh boy. I guess it'd be my mom's fried chicken. That's perfect for a Kentucky Colonel to say, I guess, but I really do love my mom's fried chicken.Th' Legendary Shack Shakers shake th' shack with Deadbolt at The Casbah, 9 p.m. on Nov. 6. $8-$10. 619-232-HELL.