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“The band is raw and gritty and often spooky. In fact, their songs — from mountain breakdowns to edgy swing — would be downright haunting (themes range from murder and booze to boozy murder) were it not for the bombastic energy the band brings.” –AlliMarshall, “SmartBet Web Extra: Skunk Ruckus,” TheMountain Xpress
“The band combines the aggression of punk rock, vintage surf-music guitars, and a rustic, acoustic style that pulls from the kind of bluegrass-folk that has its roots in the British Isles… McCarthy’s vocal delivery adds another layer to Skunk Ruckus’ music. He has a heavy baritone reminiscent of Glenn Danzig, and he can convey menace, heartbreak, and a devilish leer, often within the same line. Each song on Raised on a Stick seems to be delivered by a different brooding character.”
–Vincent Harris, “SkunkRuckus Revs Up the Old-time Traditions with Punk Rock Personality,” CharlestonCity Paper
Hailing from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Skunk Ruckus combines elements of old time banjo tunes and punk rock into a distinctly new sound they call Hillbilly Gutrock. Bandleader Jim McCarthy’s writes his songs of heartache and belligerence on clawhammer banjo, but his band uses electric instruments to expand the deceptively simple songs into sonic territories of discovery. Steeped in the long traditions of Appalachian fiddle and banjo styles, Skunk Ruckus brings both poignant songwriting and instrumental bombast in ways that update and transcend much of their source material. The goal is not so much to bend established genres or to create new forms of musical fusion. Rather Skunk Ruckus embraces a wide world of influences and is not afraid to live in a world where Charlie Poole might hang out with The Cramps.
Although Jim McCarthy has been writing songs about, as one reviewer noted, “murder and booze [and] boozy murder,” alongside bassist Max Steel for years, the band has only recently solidified into a rock quartet with the addition of Dave Gilbert on electric guitars and Claude Coleman Jr. on drums. Dr. Dave, as he is known, adds skronk and gravity with his various stylings of electric guitar, while drummer Claude Coleman recently came on board to record the band’s second full-length album and plans to make all the gigs he can in-between his longtime commitments to Ween (with whom he has played since 1993), Mike Dillon, and TV Tramps.
Skunk Ruckus tours regionally and nationally, often cutting up and down I-81 between Knoxville and Philadelphia. When not roaming the corridor, they also play circuits along the East Carolinas and Georgia. They’ve played and toured with Jim Avett, Southern Culture on the Skids, The Goddamn Gallows, Sawyer Family, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Tall Tall Trees, The Ford Theater Reunion, Pierce Edens and The Dirty Works, Qiet, and Cut Throat Shamrock, among many other. They have also been featured at the Popcorn Sutton Memorial Jam in Western N.C. and Brandywine Folkfest in P.A., and North Charlestson’s annual Rockabillaque.
“Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, Skunk Ruckus is a band that according to their webpage blends elements of old time music with punk, as so many other bands claim to do these days. I don’t care if there’s a million of these bands out there, as long as they are all as good as these guys. The punk influence is minimal, but nicely done. Even the typical old time music is minimal, well yeah, they use a washboard and banjo, but it doesn’t sound like they are trying to be this 1930’s band gone punk… Where most bands stay far away from electric guitar and bass, Skunk Ruckus embraces them to give their sound that extra kick.” –Tom Saenen, “Skunk Ruckus—Raised on a Stick,” Old Style Music Nights