Asylum Street Spankers

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Asylum Street Spankers
Spankers horizontal.jpg
Background information
Origin Austin, Texas, USA
Genres Progressive folk, jazz blues, ragtime, roots rock, comedy rock
Years active 1994–2011
Labels Spanks-a-Lot, Yellow Dog
Members Christina Marrs
Nevada Newman
Mark Henne
Morgan Patrick Thompson
Shawn Dean (The Unknown Wrestler)
Charlie King
Trevor Smith
Thrad Lee
Past members see former members

The Asylum Street Spankers, formed in Austin, Texas in 1994, were a band whose music was rooted in early 20th century American musical forms.

In 2006, the band's satirical anti-war video "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV" surpassed 1 million hits in two months on YouTube.[1] In January 2011 the band won The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards in the Gospel category for God's Favorite Band.[2] The band dissolved after a final tour in spring 2011.[3]



Founded by Christina Marrs, Wammo and Guy Forsyth after a party at the Dabbs Hotel along the Llano River in Texas in 1994. The band began by busking on the streets of Austin and playing for tips in bars. In their earliest days, the Spankers' repertoire consisted almost entirely of country, blues, jazz, swing and Tin Pan Alley songs dating from the 1890s to the 1950s with a particular emphasis on the 1920s and 1930s. The band developed a raucous and irreverent sound, focusing on musicianship and theatricality.[4] Several early members were actors and nearly all members have been multi-instrumentalists. Until 2004 they played most of their concerts without any amplification. This resulted in a heightened theatricality to the shows.[5]

The band derived its name from Austin's Guadalupe Street, where they would often busk and where they played a number of their early shows. At one time Guadalupe Street was nicknamed "Asylum Street" because it led to a state psychiatric hospital.[6] The term "spanker" is an old musician's term for "one who plays his instrument vigorously and proficiently".[citation needed]

Lineup changes, studio albums[edit]

With the departure of Guy Forsyth in 1997 the Spankers began playing more original songs, most written in the roots styles the band was familiar with. By 1999 only Marrs and Wammo remained of the original line-up.[7] Reconstructing the band, Marrs and Wammo began including more cross-genre experimentation, intricate arrangements and vocal harmonies, and humorous songs, sometimes with pointed social and cultural commentary. Also in 1999, Marrs and Wammo founded Spanks-a-Lot Records to release their music. With complete creative control, the band began increasing the frequency of their sales and profits. Spanks-a-Lot has released two DVDs documenting the group's live show.[citation needed]

In fall 2006, the band's anti-war satire video "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV", directed by Morgan Higby Night garnered 1,054,743 views on YouTube within the first two months of its release.[1]

In January 2008 the group premiered its stage show "What? And Give Up Show Biz?" off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre. In January 2011, Asylum Street Spankers won The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards in the Gospel category for God's Favorite Band.[2]

Breakup, farewell tour[edit]

After the band broke up in 2010, the remaining members announced one last tour, 9 months in 50 cities: "Spanks for the Memories! The Farewell Tour." Down to one founding member, the band built a new show around Marrs, Newman, and returning member Charlie King. The "Spanks for Everything" Farewell Tour concluded with a series of final shows in Austin on April 20–23, 2011.[citation needed]

In March 2011, the band raised over $20,000 from fans in order to create a DVD retrospective and documentary centered around their final performances in Austin.[3]

In April 2014 an album with previous unreleased recordings of their last shows "The Last Laugh" was released. In 2015, "The Last Laugh" won the award for the "Live Performance Album" category at The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards.


Many of their albums from 1999 on have been thematic. Spanker Madness, primarily country blues music about drug use, is generally pro-marijuana, but several songs examine the negative side of drug use and incisively criticize the War on Drugs. They have also released A Christmas Spanking; Mercurial, an album recorded live using technology and techniques of 1940s vintage; My Favorite Record, an album about their love of music; X-rated EPs; and Mommy Says No!, an album of songs about children and childhood heavily inspired by Shel Silverstein and Maurice Sendak.[citation needed]

The Spankers have covered songs by diverse artists such as Prince, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Beastie Boys, The B-52's, Black Flag, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Harry Nilsson, The Jazz Butcher, The Violent Femmes, George Jones, Nirvana, Nina Simone, Nine Inch Nails, Otis Redding, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Johnny Cash.[8] They are also known for throwing snatches of familiar songs into musical montages.[citation needed]



  • Christina Marrs
  • Charlie King
  • Nevada Newman
  • Mark Henne
  • Morgan Patrick Thompson
  • Shawn Dean (The Unknown Wrestler)
  • Trevor Smith
  • Thrad Lee

Former members[edit]



  • Live (1995, out of print)
  • Spanks for the Memories (1996)
  • Nasty Novelties (EP, 1997)
  • Hot Lunch (1999)
  • Spanker Madness (2000)
  • A Christmas Spanking (2001)
  • Dirty Ditties (EP, 2002)
  • "Stinkin'" b/w "Goodbye Cousin Early" (single, 2002)
  • My Favorite Record (2002)
  • Strawberry (Live)(2003, recorded 1998)
  • Mercurial (2004)
  • Pussycat (2005)
  • Mommy Says No! (2007)
  • What? And Give Up Show Biz? (2 disk live set, 2008)
  • God's Favorite Band (2009)
  • The Last Laugh (2014)
Solo albums by members
  • Why Do it Right? (Nevada Newman)
  • Lowriders On the Storm (Wammo)
  • In the Land of Dreams (Stanley Smith)
  • Fat Headed Stranger (Wammo)
  • Faster Than the Speed of Suck (Wammo)


  • Sideshow Fez (DVD)
  • Re-Assembly (2005) (DVD)
  • Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Video: "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV" (YouTube)
  2. ^ a b "Asylum Street Spankers". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b Asylum Street Spankers - The Last Laugh Farewell DVD Kickstarter Campaign. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  4. ^ Ferris, Patrick. "Artist of the Month". Hotbands. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  5. ^ Coronado, Adam (2010). "Religious Asylum". The San Antonio Current. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  6. ^ Lyden, Jacki (July 31, 2005). "The Asylum Street Spankers, Sounding Off". NPR. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  7. ^ Kirby, Dave (March 25, 2010). "Asylum Street Spankers find salvation". The Boulder Weekly. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  8. ^ "Official website". Asylum Street Spankers. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 

External links[edit]