At the Folk Festival, King Wilkie ended its set with "Damn Yankee Lad." An obscure old song popularized to a degree by the 1960s country-folk singer Jimmie Driftwood (and previously sung in bluegrass only by the very untraditional Osborne Brothers), it's a snarky story told by a Reconstruction-era Union soldier who passes for a southerner ("I'm just a damn Yankee, way down in the South. / I love to kiss southern belles on the mouth. / I laugh when they say all them Yankees so bad. / Nobody knows I'm a damn Yankee lad"). King Wilkie harks back to the college-town bluegrass of the 1960s, which combined deep reverence for the tradition with all kinds of sly imagination. This is definitely a band to watch. Check out King Wilkie for yourself at the Ark on Sunday, March 20.
[Originally published in March, 2005.]