Wonky Tonk spins country on its head

From Staff Reports
Black Mountain News | USA TODAY NETWORK
Wonky Tonk's work is influenced by John Prine, Guy Clark, Modest Mouse and especially Loretta Lynn.

As the name suggests, Wonky Tonk’s music owes a heavy debt to classic country but is a bit off kilter. Addressing timeless country themes with piercings-and-tattoos attitude and punk cowgirl persona, she’s established herself as a unique presence on the modern country scene.

Wonk, with her her suitcase full of songs and appealing indie swagger, returns to White Horse Black Mountain on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 advance/$12 door.

Wonky Tonk (a.k.a. Jasmine Poole) hails from a hardscrabble corner of Kentucky, and her songs reflect the heartland themes of loss, love, and longing that form the backbone of country, bluegrass and folk music. She wraps them up in an emotionally direct delivery that’s equally vulnerable and tough, having been told as a shy but independent child that “Cowgirls get up in the morning, decide what to do and do it.” 

She pulled on her boots and set out to create of work body of work influenced by John Prine, Guy Clark, Modest Mouse, and especially Loretta Lynn. Her songs acknowledge her forebears without being derivative, rooted yet contemporary.

Wonk’s first album, "Things We Left Behind," enlists the talents of Cincinnati area players to put a bit of indie rock/Americana shine on songs about moving on from things that are no longer pertinent. The production, fine as it is, is never intrusive, and it’s Wonk’s voice at center stage, winsome yet resolved.