Wonky Tonk & Friends
John Prine, Loretta Lynn, Modest Mouse, Langhorne Slim, Against Me!
From the Band
Jasmine Lorraine “Wonky Tonk” Poole grew up in the hard scrabble portion of the American heartland. Kentucky, to be precise. Her world of loss and longing is familiar terrain for lovers of country, bluegrass and folk music but, just as Kentucky can be viewed as a bridge between north and south, Wonk’s music blends elements of Indie/Alternative rock with old school country. It’s hard to separate the wonk from the tonk. Nor should you try.
Wonk’s influences, John Prine, Guy Clark, Modest Mouse and Loretta Lynn among them (especially Loretta), are apparent but her music is not derivative. Loretta, Skeeter Davis, Iris Dement and Jenny Lewis come to mind but none of her comparables quite pin her down. Wonk is her own cowgirl. “Cowgirls get up in the morning, decide what to do and do it”, she was told as a child. Fiercely independent but naturally shy Jasmine uses her alter ego and blue cowgirl boots to deal with the notion of impossibly cruel but equally exhilarating existence.
One byproduct of youthful innocence is a constant disappointing, bewildering surprise:
You used to call me baby
You used to call me darlin’
Now you don’t call me at all
Another is vulnerability and manipulability:
In the greasy ballroom
You whispered in my ear
Darlin’ life is a gamble, romance a drug
The whole world is dancin’
Won’t you give in and love
Her eleven song debut release Stuff We Leave Behind deals with the necessity of moving on at critical points in your life. Stuff that once seemed important must be cast aside, ex-lovers relegated to the shadows. “Heartbreak makes the jukebox play”, she was once told. Her song titles reflect her wandering spirit and a fascination with time and place. “Cleveland.” “Denmark.” “Tennessee.” “Montague Road.” A veteran troubadour at such a tender age, Wonk has toured Europe with the same restless drive as her native Northern Kentucky.
Tom Robbins told us that even Cowgirls Get the Blues but all is not remorse and regret. Jangly sunshine pops through the clouds unexpectedly, such as in “Parkland Avenue” (arguably the best track). Though softly. Without the glare.
Wonk’s lyrics are worth a read even without the music. The album tracks her evolution as an artist and a person. The gravel, rutted road to an emerging wisdom.
Tennessee didn’t you hear
Money’s not real and neither is fear
Pay attention to Wonk. Not just because she is talented and beautiful. Pay attention because she has an important purpose. To help you remember. To help you forget. Or to help you remember why you chose to forget.