Asylum Street Spankers

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Asylum Street Spankers
Background information
OriginAustin, Texas, U.S.
GenresBlues, folk, roots rock, comedy
Years active1994–2011
LabelsWatermelon, Yellow Dog, Spanks-a-Lot
Members(for final 2011 tour)
  • Christina Marrs
  • Nevada Newman
  • Mark Henne
  • Morgan Patrick Thompson
  • Shawn Dean
  • Charlie King
  • Trevor Smith
  • Thrad Lee

Asylum Street Spankers was an American acoustic blues and roots rock band from Austin, Texas, United States. The band played cover versions of early jazz and comical, often risqué original songs.

In 2006, the band's satirical antiwar video "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV" surpassed 1 million views 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]



The band was founded by Christina Marrs, William David "Wammo" Walker, and Guy Forsyth after a party at the Dabbs Hotel near 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 from the 1890s to the 1950s, with an 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 amplification.[5]

The band derived its name from Austin's Guadalupe Street, where they would often busk and where they played early shows. At one time Guadalupe Street was nicknamed "Asylum Street" because it led to a state psychiatric hospital.[6] According to Christina Marrs, "'spanking' is an old jazz term for playing your instrument vigorously. But we still like the other connotation of spanking as well."[7]

Lineup changes, studio albums[edit]

With the departure of Guy Forsyth in 1997 the Spankers began playing their own songs, most of them in the roots styles the band was familiar with. By 1999 only Marrs and Wammo remained of the original line-up.[8]

Reconstructing the band, Marrs and Wammo began including more cross-genre experimentation, intricate arrangements, vocal harmonies, and humorous songs, sometimes with pointed social and cultural commentary.[9] Also in 1999, Marrs and Wammo founded Spanks-a-Lot Records to release their music.

In 2006, the satirical antiwar video "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV" received 1,054,743 views on YouTube. The video was directed by Morgan Higby Night.[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, nine 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.


Spanker Madness is an album of country blues songs that praise marijuana use and criticize the War on Drugs, though other songs look at the negative side of recreational drugs. Mercurial was recorded using technology from the 1940s. My Favorite Record is about their love of music. Mommy Says No! is an album of songs about children and childhood that was inspired by children's authors Shel Silverstein and Maurice Sendak.[10]

The Spankers have covered songs by 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, Oingo Boingo, Otis Redding, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Johnny Cash.[11]


Final band members (2011 tour)[edit]

  • 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 (2001)
  • 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? (two-disc 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. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. 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. ^ "Asylum Street Spanker". Austin Daze. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  8. ^ Kirby, Dave (March 25, 2010). "Asylum Street Spankers find salvation". The Boulder Weekly. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  9. ^ Corcoran, Michael (2009). "Old timey endurance". Austin360/Austin American Statesman. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  10. ^ "Mommy Says No!, by Asylum Street Spankers". Asylum Street Spankers. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Official website". Asylum Street Spankers. Archived from the original on 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2013-03-12.

External links[edit]