Preview 2-13-10 Boise, ID

The Gourds rock stages, editorial pages
Frontman "Shinyribs" wields both guitar, pen
Michael Deeds
Copyright: © 2009 Idaho Statesman
Published: 02/12/10

THE GOURDS, 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, The Bouquet, 1010 Main St., $16 advance, Boise Co-op, The Record Exchange,, $19 day of show

The Gourds have done great things over 16 years. They've recorded a devilish bluegrass cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." They've contributed the score to a facial-hair documentary called "Growin' a Beard."

But the eccentric roots-rockers' most memorable achievement - at least in Idaho - might be a public thank-you note written by frontman Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell.

See, The Gourds don't just rock stages. They rock editorial pages.

"Me and my band, The Gourds (Austin, Texas), had a wonderful opportunity recently to perform at the Alive After Five Concert event on July 30," Russell wrote in the Idaho Statesman in 2008. "Let me say that we were overwhelmed with the experience. We are still talking about the wide open kindness and hospitality of your people. The concert itself was exceptionally managed. And the feeling in this community was inspiring to us. We genuinely appreciate the chance to share our music with all of you. Our best wishes to everyone. Thank you for the good times."

Seriously. How many bands write a letter to the editor thanking a city after they play a gig?

"It's such a nice and easy thing to do, and it's a nice gesture," Russell explains in a phone interview from Austin. "For the people who read the newspapers, it connects them to us through their community."

Russell is no stranger to the power of the press. Last year, he put down his guitar and mandolin and picked up a pen in protest of Austin's sound ordinance. He was disappointed after a venue The Gourds had played was ticketed at a free outdoor event similar to Alive After Five.

Russell's letter, written to The Austin Chronicle, was named the newspaper's top letter of 2009.

"I really kind of started something in Austin ... where we got hassled by the city," Russell says proudly. "I wrote a letter, and the timing of it was good, and it caused a big uproar and got our sound ordinance taken to task, and it made a difference. It really showed me that a guy can make a difference."

The Gourds have made waves on the alt-country circuit since forming in Austin in 1994. They've never hit it big commercially; their biggest claim to fame is that "Gin and Juice" cover (and it's sometimes mistakenly credited to jam band Phish.) But for music fans in the know about terrific live musicians, The Gourds are nothing short of royalty. They've built an enthusiastic following of smiling, dancing listeners, enthralled by The Gourds' raucous blend of Americana music and clever lyrics.

The Gourds look forward to playing Boise, where they have a significant number of friends. The group has played Alive After Five twice, as well as headlining indoor gigs at Neurolux and, most recently, the Egyptian Theatre.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, The Gourds will make their debut at The Bouquet, a Downtown Boise bar that could use a shot of adrenaline from more bands of The Gourds' caliber.

If all goes well, maybe The Bouquet will get lucky: Maybe Russell will pick up his pen again afterward.

Russell wrote his first post-concert letter to the editor after a show in Missoula, Mont., he says. A friend had suggested it would be an easy, polite thing to do. Russell reserves writing these letters for special occasions, he says, such as after that magical Alive After Five two summers ago.

"I just felt like I needed to write that letter," he says. "It is unusual. That's why I like it. We like to do things that are unpredictable and strange.

"We do have manners," he adds, laughing, "strangely enough."

Michael Deeds: 377-6407

No comments:

Post a Comment