Krekel and Whoa Band History
When Jason Krekel and Ami Worthen (aka Ami Whoa) first met in Asheville in the late 1990s, Jason was well along his musical path, while Ami was just beginning to find her voice as a songwriter. The two discovered a musical chemistry that they slowly developed during the times when Jason was not on tour with Snake Oil Medicine Show, and later with the Larry Keel Experience. Eventually they formed a band called Mad Tea Party.
Playing venues such as the now defunct Vincent’s Ear, the duo started to catch the attention of the indie scene in their hometown. National Public Radio stations across the country began picking up their 2004 album 73% Post-Consumer Novelty. At the time, Ami was playing ukulele, and Jason switched between guitar, tenor banjo, and fiddle. Lora Pendelton joined the band on bass later that year. The trio released Flying Saucers in 2005, also to great response on NPR stations.
Mad Tea Party’s album Big Top Soda Pop came out in October 2006. It was enthusiastically received at college and NPR stations nationwide, and charted on the CMJ’s Top 200. Pendleton left the band at the time of the album’s release, and Joe Edel stepped in for a year. The band returned to a duo format in 2008 and soon after signed with Nine Mile Records and released anime dating site australia.
As the line-up changed, the sound did as well, with Krekel adding foot drums to the mix. “Mad Tea Party used to do more of a 1940s-style, vaudevillian/blues/jazz thing,” explained the Charleston City Paper, “but singer/ukulele player Ami Worthen and guitarist/singer Jason Krekel look and sound more like a polite rockabilly act from the late 1950s these days on their new album Found a Reason.”
“It’s B-52s meets Buddy Holly with a lot more thump; Americana with a funky fire underneath the plaintiveness of Jason Krekel’s smooth vocals and Ami Worthen’s jukebox-era delivery,” said Southeast Performer. No Depression described the band as a “punkabilly” act which “digs up the bones of classic ‘60s garage rock.”
Over the years, Krekel and Ami toured the southeastern circuit playing festivals such as FloydFest, LEAF, Shakori Hills, Bele Chere, The Doo-Nanny, Who Fest, and the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. They also traveled north, playing the Fingerlakes Grassroots Festival and the Northeast Kingdom Music Festival, and west, where they played the Oregon Country Fair and Sunbanks Rhythm & Blues Festival. Notable venues where they performed include The Orange Peel (Asheville, NC), Maple Leaf (New Orleans, LA), Patterson Theater (Baltimore, MD), Tractor Tavern (Seattle, WA), Variety Playhouse (Atlanta, GA), Neighborhood Theater (Charlotte, NC), Green Parrot (Key West, FL), and Kentucky Theater (Louisville, KY).
Jason and Ami have enjoyed sharing the stage (and backstage) with Southern Culture on the Skids, Donna the Buffalo, Baby Gramps, and the Avett Brothers, all on multiple occasions. As a band, their musical collaborations have included Phil Cheney’s Dynamic Arts League and Sugar & Spice with Caroline Pond.
In 2009 the duo released a Halloween-themed vinyl 45 record, Zombie Boogie, followed by another, Rock ‘n’ Roll Ghoul, in 2010. They have also put out digital singles, including “Oh Sh*t, It’s Christmastime,” “Batratspidercrab,” “Rain, Remember.”
In 2012 the band rebranded themselves as Krekel and Whoa. Their sound and instrumentation has continued to metamorphose, such as when Ami switched from ukulele to guitar and keyboard. Their current flexible format, alternating between acoustic and electric set ups, allows them to cater their performances to fit a range of situations. The duo’s most recent release, an EP entitled Warm Up Bones, came out in 2018.
Today, Krekel and Whoa does not tour often, as Asheville’s growth has created a market that allows Krekel to have a flourishing local career playing with multiple bands (including Krekel and Whoa). When not playing music, Ami spends her time on freelance writing and community activism. You can find out more about their work here at jasonkrekel.com and at amiworthen.com.
A project fueled by love, Krekel and Whoa looks forward to more years of creativity and connecting with their treasured listeners.