Jonathan Burks grew up in Racine, WI. By the time he moved to Milwaukee to attend college and become a folk singer in 1997, Burks had been writing songs for a number years. As he pounded the pavement of the Milwaukee folk scene throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, playing every open-mic and basement show that would have him, and touring the country by Greyhound and Amtrak, he accumulated a huge catalog of songs, some of them heartbreaking, some of them hilarious, and all of them disarmingly honest. Though a confirmed folky, Burks was also in love with punk (for the ethos) and hip-hop (for the language), and he eventually moved beyond the folk scene. He began collaborating with bassist Luther Paul, a founding member of Wooden Robot, the original gypsy-crust band, in the early 2000s. This collaboration resulted first in a trio that gave parts of Burks’s catalog a folk-rock interpretation. Then, joining with Milwaukee rapper Hawkman, they formed the hip-hop group Spatula City, whose raucous shows and virtuosic raps (mostly about aliens and fishing) quickly earned them an avid following and spots opening for national acts like The Frogs and Har Mar Superstar. Paul and Burks also worked together on Burks’s first full-length, 2006’s Bones of the Tree, recorded by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy alumni Colin Gagon. The following year Burks and Paul teamed up with guitarist Joe Peschio (Wooden Robot, China Pig, Boy with Bosoms) and drummer Dan Boyles (China Pig) to work up some of the many drinking songs in Burks’s catalog into Jon Wayne-inspired “shitkickers.” As a quartet, they developed blowsy, reeling, grimy treatments of Burks’s songs which proved appealing to crowds at Milwaukee street fests and bars. Soon after they were joined by pianist “Doctor” Nick Westfahl in 2008, and with a grand total of perhaps a dozen practices under their belts, they headed to Shane Hochstettler’s Howl Street Recordings and emerged with 2009’s Brown Paper Bag. Burks added another guitarist, Jacob Sutrick, to the lineup before heading back to Howl Street to record 2010’s Loudmouth Soup. And Burks has already booked time at Howl Street in June-July 2010 to record an album of his love and anti-love songs (tentatively entitled Red Pulpy Mess) with his band, which is now a sextet. Burks continues to play solo acoustic shows.
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