Shreveport, Oh Shreveport: One Question with the Picket Line Coyotes

© 1988 Lee Gray (l to r) Percival, Green, Russell, Bernard

TheGourdsNews: I found this old picture of the Picket Line Coyotes on Facebook last week and was kind of hoping each of you could talk about it a little bit.

Joey Percival: We've suddenly discovered we're supposed to be playing this song in A (laughs). Funny thing is, that's exactly what I think is happening. Kevin is facing me and Rob is looking towards me like, "How come he always shows you first?" 'Cause I'm the bass, dude...bass needs to know first!

David Green: The Headless Man photo, September, 1988. I remember this night well. The next day I started getting sick...symptoms of being diabetic, which I would be diagnosed with in December of that year. I think we're playing Washateria by the way folks are dancing. These are some of the best friends I will ever have. I am so happy that we are still in contact with one another. I miss them all very much. It's funny how things turn out, all we wanted to do is get our music out so people could hear it. We didn't care about making it big...Joey maybe (laughs) he always thought bigger that the rest of us. Having fun, rocking out and hanging with our girlfriends seemed so perfectly innocent, and such a right thing to want and do at 22. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it. Life if still good and I thank my time in the Coyotes for that. I learned a lot about life and love while I was in that band, no four-year degree could have given me that. My only hope is that I am not too jaded that I throw off others I might give advice to, especially ones of the same age we were then. Plan ahead, write good songs, and as Sam Butera once said, "Practice, practice, practice". Wonder how he knew I needed it? Anyway, it's a beautiful memory, one I will never forget.
Kevin Russell: I remember this photo and I remember this show. It was right as we were leaving Shreveport. We had essentially been black-balled from most of the clubs around town. I am sure we had a persecution complex, but it really seemed like forces were conspiring against us. I still see this moment as a huge loss for Shreveport music. We were a proactive community building group of young men. We just wanted to make our city a better, more dynamic cultural place. Yes, this was high idealism at its most naive. Still though we thought it had potential to be a scene similar to Athens or Minneapolis or Austin, albeit smaller. I still think small towns could be great music scenes. It is state of mind that, if accepted by a growing number of people, can be magical. We had a taste of it in our time there in the Port city. We inspired and helped many garage bands to come out into the clubs and play gigs. The hope was that one of us would catch fire and the scene would blow up. I think much of this had to do with the inimitable David Green. Anyone who is lucky enough to know David understands what I mean when I say he is unique in his openness and generosity. It was this personality that really made everything happen. When I met David I was a shy, awkward high school kid with some songs and big dreams. As soon as he knew I played guitar there was no question that I was coming over to his house and jamming with his friends. I owe so much to him and his loyal friendship. Neither one of us knew what we were doing when it came to the music business. But, we had heart and we had an unswerving belief in the power of music to create change in community and culture. This is the kind of thing I think about when I see pictures of the Picket Line Coyotes. The big dreams of young men out for a good time. For most of those years I was a straight edge boy. I know I was not easy to live with. My prejudices against alcohol and drugs were out of place in that moment. Yet, they put up with my soapbox bullshit and played the songs I brought. And man did I bring'em. Most folks think I am prolific now. But back then, imagine me with a 20 year old stamina, no responsibility and all the time in the world with a band free to play and rehearse anytime. It was a constant stream of songs flowing through our band. We tried all kinds of stuff. And the sets would change a lot from month to month. In hindsight we probably should have been keeping our best stuff in the sets and focusing more on building a great show. As i said though we were not very music biz savvy. I still have the feeling that we are playing songs too much and need to reinvent the set and ourselves. It is just the way I am, restless I suppose. This photo sort of represents the beginning of the end of the original Coyotes. In that regard it is bittersweet. Once we moved to Dallas and started pairing off with the women folk things changed. We grew up a bit and our dreams grew independent of each other, which is all natural, well and good. The band gave it a real good try in Dallas. We never made it to Austin where I think we could have really made waves with our air and ground attack. I like to think we were the best Austin band that never lived in Austin. The Wildseeds came through Shreveport once. We opened for them and I remember them telling us we needed to go to Austin ASAP. For many reasons we decided on Dallas. Again not the sharpest music biz guys (laughs). Eventually Joey had to focus on his growing family. That should have been the end right there. But Jimmy [Smith] magically appeared in our lives out of the mean streets of Plano. And a new thing was born that would eventually become The Gourds. I recently met a woman who went to college in Shreveport. She is a huge Gourds fan. But after talking a bit she figured out right in front of me that I was also the PLC guy. That was a fun moment to watch her make it all connect in her memory. This photo does the same thing to me. It opens a pipeline rushing full with blurred time, fragments of memories and images, snapshots of moments, pools of friends and tribes of people connected in complex surprising ways. I forget now who knew who and when. One thing is sure. I knew these three men at a magical, unforgettable time in our lives. We made something together that had great meaning to us then, as it does now. Joey, Robert,'s to you boys. I love you like brothers, always. No time or torture could ever change that. I will see you soon.

Rob Bernard: (nodded off during Kevin's answer)

Special thanks to Joe Ryan for contributing to this piece & to Audra Stinson for originally posting the photo on Facebook.


  1. Two questions: 1) where's that guy's head then and now, and 2) which guy is Kevin Russell?


  2. hey ledge, good hearing from you. kev's the guy in the middle with the guitar...and the hair. that's probably what threw you off. you've never seen him that way. gotta go all the way back to the 80's for that.


    p.s. answer to question 1 is anybody's guess.

  3. That's Kev?!
    I thought it was Peter Buck.

    -- Tomski

  4. I have always said that there are two types of people in this world, those who had the pleasure of seeing the Picket Line Coyotes live and those who did not. This band was one of the reasons that I can look back and say that I am proud to have grown up in Shreveport in the late 80's/early 90's. These guys packed so much energy into their shows and the setlists were constantly changing with great new songs every week. The shows from the Upolstery Van era were perhaps the hottest in my opinion. Kevin would also do solo shows every Tuesday night at Enochs a Cafe that were also legendary. I believe that Kevin had over 500 songs by the time he was 21, I remember seeing this huge book packed with songs. It is
    also very true what Kevin said about Dave's kindness and generosity. I played in a band during my high school years and we would go to every Coyotes show, many times sneaking in, on the guest list, or paying off the guys at the door. One night we gave Dave a copy of a 4 track demo that we had made in my parents garage. Needless to say we sucked and only had a handful of tunes. A week later I got a call from Dave asking if we would like to come to Dallas and record a real demo at Crystal Clear Studios. Of course we said yes and stayed with Dave and made our demo and even opened for the Coyotes a couple of times. What a good bunch of guys, I will never forget those days. Of course I have have had many great adventures with the Gourds and they are still one of my favorite bands. I can not wait to come back to the states and make a week long tour run in the near future.

    Jon Hudson

  5. My alcoholic ass had a car and that made my the unofficial roadie for the Picket Line Coyotes. We managed to stuff a lot of equipment into my Pontiac t1000. I loved these guys then and I love them now.

  6. Hey, I took that photo!

    I was just digging through my old stuff a couple of days ago, trying to find any old photos to upload to the PLC Facebook page (like I said I would months ago, sorry guys!), and all I can find are proof exposures and negatives (a good thing, but I was hoping it would be easier to scan some good shots). That particular shot is one of the better proof shots I still have. Back then, after I did all my test exposures, I then sold or gave away the best prints. I sold Kevin a pretty big stack of them for about the cost of the paper and chemicals. I took tons of pictures of PLC, Too Many Douglasses, and other Shreveport bands.

    Lee Gray, Shreveport, LA

    1. thanks for the background info, lee. great shot! I'll be sure to add the photo credit.