The Wild Turkeys
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The Wild Turkeys

Band Folk Bluegrass


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"The Wild Turkeys: Country & Western Gobble-Gobble"

A lot of bands are viewed as prolific; it’s considered high praise when a group is said to have a good work ethic (though the phrase is thrown around quite a bit). Still more bands are revered for doing something different musically. Seldom does a band win the Triple Crown for accomplishing all three feats from the independent level, but that’s exactly what Sault Ste. Marie’s The Wild Turkeys have done within the last year. In addition to embarking upon several small tours within the province, the vintage C&W–inspired band will be able to boast a schedule of two full–length albums recorded and released within one calendar year without the benefit of FACTOR grant funding, label assistance or any of the other accouterments that so many other “independent” bands have bragging rights to. “The official release of the first album was April the sixth of 2007 and it has had a great small success in and around small towns around Ontario,” explains Wild Turkeys singer/guitarist Sheldon Jaaskelainen proudly while on the road in Thunder Bay. “We just recently recorded a new album.
“By the time we had the songs prepared enough that we felt comfortable going into the studio to get them down, we were already writing more,” continues the singer. “Our recording process has a fair number of nods to the past in it – like the old string bands, we record live off the floor because that’s where we find the best energy – and in order to do that we need to make sure that we have our songs prepared well in advance.
“We had the songs that we recorded for the self–titled album down pat a few months before we recorded and I was continuing to write, so by the time the first album was released I had most of the material for a second effort and it was just a couple of months after that when we thought it might be a good idea to go again. After looking back at album sales and a nice little band fund, we were able to completely fund this next project. We’re waiting on it to be mixed and mastered now, and it’ll be out this coming April – probably late in the month.”
Jaanskelainen’s excitement is justified in listening to his band’s debut, Unplucked. With adamantine clarity that would be regarded as uncharacteristic for an indie record of any genre, The Wild Turkeys stomp through a dozen country powerhouses guaranteed to, by turns, set toes tapping and hips swinging. Songs like “Hayfield Crooning”, “Askin’ For Trouble” and “Pole Cat Holler” all invigorate the vintage styling in a way that makes them sound completely fresh and all–new; in this case, The Wild Turkeys don’t just slap a new coat of paint on a bunch of old and established glories, they sit down and write their own with a healthy sense of tradition. The irony, of course, is that outside of the singer’s own past work experience, The Wild Turkeys is the first group in which all of the band’s other members have played. “All of the other fellows in The Wild Turkeys have never played in a band before,” explains Jaanskelainen of the group that has been a family affair since its inception. “We’ve all played music and studied music before, but never played in a band per se.
“About two and a half years ago, I moved back to Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto – I had moved there with a band that ultimately didn’t work out – and as soon as I got back I wanted to get something off the ground and moving again. I love old time country and the people within my immediate reach were my brothers first – the other set of brothers came along soon thereafter – they were really willing to learn and we’ve come a long way since.”
Since Unplucked’s release, the group has attacked the road as much as band member schedules have permitted and won converts everywhere they’ve gone thus far according to Jaanskelainen. They’ve shared bills with other bands playing a myriad of styles of music – they’re almost never found on stage with other country bands – and the singer is quick to say that he wouldn’t have it any other way; there’s a certain thrill for the band to get in front of a crowd with another group playing a diametrically opposed style to set up a marked contrast. “We’ve played everywhere from libraries to elementary schools to retirement homes and been really well received all of them as well as every bar we’ve done,” explains the singer of the band’s attraction to a universal target audience. “There are no generational boundaries with our music. I hadn’t thought about that before we started, but after a couple of shows, I realized that it’s music that anybody can get something out of.
“We really like the road,” continues Jaanskelainen. “We like getting out, playing in different communities in different areas, and it’s a lot of fun for us to hit a stage with a band that’s a lot different from what we’re doing. Like, for example, The Marantz Project has a completely contrasting style from what we do, but in that I think it makes for a great show; sort of a funk versus country event. We did that once on a jaunt not so long ago as well and it worked out really, really well. That was one of the reasons that we decided to do it again.”
While some of the band’s members scholastic commitments keep The Wild Turkeys from doing more than four or five show jaunts at the moment [one member is still in high school and another is currently in university –ed], Jaanskelainen says that the band has already begun taking strides to expand their fan base with a series of shows scheduled for this summer. “We’re about a month out of releasing the next record and prior to that we’re not planning on playing very much,” explains the singer of The Wild Turkeys’ immediate plans. “We want to really concentrate on promoting the next release event in Sault Ste. Marie. After the release, we’d like to get out on a lengthier tour through the summer months – we already have a couple of summer festival dates set up – and just try to keep expanding the fan base.
“Our little four and five–date tours that we’ve been doing have been really effective from a performance/attendance standpoint and it’s nice for us too because we don’t run the risk of burning ourselves out,” concedes the singer before adding, “When we’re not on the road too, we have our time booked up with shows locally and private events and things so it’s a pretty healthy balance. Right now we’re focusing in Ontario because there’s a really great scene for it here – lots of folk festivals, lots of venues too – but in the very near future we hope to press both east and west outside of the province. That’s the plan anyway.
“I find this music, as a genre, to be well established and all of the members including myself have sat down and discussed playing it for as many years as we possibly can. There is a long–term plan in place [laughing] and we’re only just starting.” P

"The Wild Turkeys"

Voted the best looking and sounding new generation roots band at the 2008 Blissfest Festival, these Sault, Ontario natives are a no holds barred romp into a new funky country sound that has to be experienced live. Totally entertaining, these lads are on their way ......catch them while you still can. - Blissfest BEAT 2008-2009

"Review: The Wild Turkeys - “Suspendered”"

We’re here to talk about the new Wild Turkeys release
‘Suspendered’. But first, a history lesson.
Over eighty years ago, A.P. Carter, his wife and her sister piled
into a borrowed car, drove from Maces Spring, Virginia to
Bristol, Tennessee to record songs for Ralph Peer at the general
store. !at same week in August, 1927 in Bristol at the same
general store, Jimmie Rogers made his first recordings. And,
thus, country music was born. Sure, there was a lot of other
stuff happening in the centuries before that week in 1927,
Irish immigration, slavery, the railways, and work gangs,
that contributed to the evolution of hillbilly music. But the
focal point, the moment of true genesis, the big bang if you
will, happened in that backwoods general store in nowhere
For decades, through the depression, through a world war
and beyond, country music was very cool. It helped give
birth to Elvis. It brought us Hank Williams, Sr., David Allen
Coe, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, and
Johnny Cash. To deny the coolness that mainstream country
was is to deny the coolness of Johnny Cash. Is anyone going
to challenge that? But over the years, mainstream country
music changed. It became more bland, more concerned with
appearances. Mainstream Nashville country sold its soul,
kicked Hank Williams, Sr. out of the Grand Ol’ Opry and
made Garth Brooks a star.
Country music finds itself at the mercy of Music Row in
Nashville. If you were an alternative country act, until very
recently, you, my friend, were screwed. Into the snow and
cold you went hoping for at least your friends to show up
at your matinee open mic session at the local Bukowski-like
barfly hangout. !rough the sixties, seventies and eighties,
alternative country music was just not there. It did not
!at is, until Social Distortion recorded a version of ‘Ring
Of Fire’. And then the punks discovered Johnny Cash. And,
very slowly, alt-country became a force to be dealt with. With
Johnny Cash’s American recordings as the bedrock to build
on, alt-country or cow punk, or whatever you want to call
it, became larger and more prevalent. And then Sheldon
Hank Williams was sued for child support. With that lawsuit
looming over him, Hank III, grandson of Hank Williams, Sr.,
recorded his first country album. And suddenly, something
new was coming together to explode in a billion shards of
light and change music as we know it.
Hank III, with !e Misfits and Superjoint Ritual on his
resume, brought something new and old to the table. It was as
if the last thirty years of suck hadn’t happened. And suddenly
every kid who secretly listened to Willie Nelson, Waylon
Jennings or Steve Earle didn’t have to hide and keep their
“guilty pleasure” from their friends. Suddenly every kid who
thought that Scotty Moore was the greatest guitarist that ever
lived wasn’t laughed at. And suddenly country music was cool
again. And it was our country music, not Nashville’s.
Now, !e Wild Turkeys, like the best of what is happening on
the fringes of the Nashville sound, like the best of Canadian
country music, have one mud-stained work boot firmly
planted in the past. !e Turkeys stomp and yell and bang
their way furiously through their new album. And, like the
best of alt-country, they have their other mud-stained work
boot firmly planted in the present, each song a classic example
of song-craft, furious, and driving to the edge.
They are Junk Drawer on percussion, Uncle Whiskey on bass
and washboard, Sheriff Big B on fiddle, Fitz on mandolin, and
Tipsy on guitar and harmonica and crooning. They have come
down from Goulais to please our ears and steal our women.
They are also Vaughn and Devin Alexander, and Byron,
Marshall and Sheldon Jaaskelainen. Who really are nice guys
who play music so well that, as Kris Kristoferson once said of
John Prine, “we may have to break their thumbs.”
!e Turkeys’ sound is a mix of Bill Monroe bluegrass, Texas
swing, Hank Sr. heartache, Stanley Brothers harmonies,
Minutemen daring, and Loretta Lynn prettiness. And it’s their
own sound. They may be influenced by virtually everything
that came before, but they never imitate. They never emulate.
!is is Clammer Haw Country. !ey might be the children
of Patsy Montana and !e Prairie Ramblers, but they have
made their own path.
‘Suspendered’ kicks off the party with ‘Drunk Willie Tamblin’,
a stomping and grinning tour de force. “Willie Tamblin was
a man, who ate his cream corn from a can, cause he spent
all his savings” is just freakin brilliant. Having known a
few Willie Tamblins in my life, I can relate to the shouts of
“Drunk Willie Tamblin stop knocking over my stuff...” With
the band hooting, Sheriff Big B kicks into one of the fiercest
fiddle solos ever caught on tape.
What follows is an album of some of the best songs I’ve heard
in a while, full of energy and poetry and harmonies that will
make grown men weep. Twelve tracks strong, there is no filler
to be found. There’s the ragtime of ‘Mr. Howard Hurley’s
Hogs’ about !e Hurleyville Taxi. !e cowboy ballad ‘A Tall
Glass Of Poison’ that would make Jack Pallance and John
Wayne weep. Instrumentals like ‘Top O’ Mud Crick Hill’, an
ode to their rehearsal space in downtown Goulais River, and
‘Trippin Over Benches’. I think I hurt myself laughing during
‘A Reeking Haddock’. And ‘Accidental Blues’ is a sweet-assed
piece of country blues.
‘Go On Git’ is a piece of Goulais bluegrass that will be on
the jukebox in heaven. And I can’t forget to mention the
lonely ballads, ‘Black Throated Sparrow’ and, my favourite
song on the album ‘These Weary Days Shall Pass’. Or the bit
of oddness that introduces ‘Black Throated Sparrow’, ‘!e
Bird Channel’. The album closes on the pretty damned-near
perfect ‘This Road Traveled Has No End In Sight’, a hobo tale
of high dignity. The Wild Turkeys finish the record as strongly
as it begins.
‘Suspendered’ never stops to take a breath, never lets up on
grabbing our attention. With sweet four part harmonies,
strong lyrics that’ll make you laugh and cry, wicked playing
and enough energy to power a small city, The Turkeys have
made an amazing record. The fact that it was recorded over
two days in February is just more proof that these cats are a
force to reckoned with.
I’ll give ‘Suspendered’ 3 Hanks out of 3.
- FRESH Magazine





From the icy shores of Northern Ontario, comes this new sizzling hot band of pickin' and grinnin cowboys. The Wild Turkeys fun stage presence and energetic sound has been recently coined as "Swamp-Stomp Country".

Armed with fiddles, mandolin, guitar, bass, harmonica, a tin can percussive suitcase contraption, and melodic four part harmonies, the Turkeys win over the hearts and ears of audiences everywhere.

This gang of brothers first came together as a band in the winter months of 2006 and quickly formed a stronghold in the Sault Ste. Marie Algoma region. Perpetually on tour, the Turkeys follow a busy schedule performing at festivals, house concerts and small venues. Over the past two years, The Wild Turkeys have shared the stage with artists such as the Cowboy Junkies, Prairie Oyster, Creaking Tree String Quartet, and Washboard Hank. This band blends masterful classical techniques with a youthful and theatrical approach to old time country.

In April 2007, they released their first independently funded, original album entitled "Unplucked", which gained nominations from the Northern Ontario Music and Film in Motion Awards (MFM) for "Best Album" and "Best Songwriter". April 2008, saw the successful release of their second, full length album, "Suspendered". Watch out for these Turkeys as they are quickly gaining national and international success.