JD Wilkes has been compared to iconoclasts like David Byrne, Iggy Pop, or Jerry Lee Lewis, and with his small, wiry frame and intense, incandescent performances, it’s not hard to see why. But while he plays the carnival barker onstage, he’s a dedicated lifelong student of true Southern culture. Master banjo player Dom Flemons said, “JD is a real old-Kentucky banjo player and he can take that to the bank! I gotta watch out next time I see his banjo.” A resident of Paducah, Kentucky, Wilkes is a Kentucky Colonel, an honorable title bestowed by the state’s Governor upon those with a connection to, or who are famous residents of the state of Kentucky. In 2015, Wilkes was featured on the BBC original series Songs of the South, in an episode focusing on the musical history of Tennessee and Kentucky.