The Gourds are an American alternative country band that formed in Austin, Texas, during the summer of 1994. After playing together for 19 consecutive years, the band went on hiatus in 2013.
Primarily evolving from the Picket Line Coyotes and the Grackles, The Gourds original line-up consisted of Kevin Russell (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Jimmy Smith (vocals, bass, guitar), Claude Bernard (accordion, guitar, vocals), and Charlie Llewellin (drums, percussion). Llewellin was replaced by current drummer Keith Langford shortly after the second album was recorded, and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston officially joined the band after being invited to play on their third album. By the following album, Johnston had also become the band's third songwriter, though Russell and Smith continued to share the bulk of those responsibilities.
Despite a sizable amount of original material, The Gourds are probably best known for a song they did not write, and for which they initially did not receive credit. A full sixteen years after its live debut, fans could still be heard calling out for the band's cover version of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice", often before the show had even started. This led some to consider it an albatross, but the band continued to play the crowd pleaser, often adding a medley of cover songs to its midsection.
While The Gourds studio efforts were generally well received, their high-energy live performances and constant touring earned them the reputation of a band that had to be seen to be appreciated. As a result, they enjoyed a dedicated fan base that was happy to follow them from town to town, and became a favorite among those who tape live music.
In March 2011, The Gourds traveled to Levon Helm's studio in Woodstock, New York to record their 10th studio album, Old Mad Joy. Produced by Larry Campbell, the record was released by Vanguard Records on September 13th that same year.
In August 2011, director Doug Hawes-Davis began shooting a documentary on the band that combined candid interviews with live performances, past and present. Partial funding came in 2012 through Kickstarter. Musician and filmmaker Brendan Canty worked as a camera operator and ran location sound on the project, which premiered at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin on March 13, 2013, and was released on DVD in 2014.
On October 18, 2013, The Gourds announced they were taking a hiatus. No reason was provided. Their final show before the break occurred on October 27, 2013, at Threadgill’s World Headquarters in Austin, TX.
- Kevin Russell – vocals, backing vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica
- Jimmy Smith – vocals, backing vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion, harmonica, double bass
- Claude Bernard – accordion, electronic keyboard, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion
- Keith Langford – drums, harmonica, backing vocals
- Max Johnston – vocals, backing vocals, fiddle, lap steel, mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo
- Dem's Good Beeble – 1996
- Stadium Blitzer – 1998
- Ghosts of Hallelujah – 1999
- Bolsa de Agua – 2000
- Cow Fish Fowl or Pig – 2002
- Blood of the Ram – 2004
- Heavy Ornamentals – 2006
- Noble Creatures – 2007
- Haymaker! – 2009
- Old Mad Joy – 2011
Studio covers and live originals
- Gogitchyershinebox – 1998
- Shinebox – 2001
- Growin' a Beard – 2003
- Something's Brewin' in Shiner – 2004
- All The Labor – 2014
- Smith: Slosinger/Redbury – 2000
- Smith: Cold War's Hot Water Shower: Featuring Dr. B – 2001
- Bernard: The Tinys – 2001 (unreleased)
- Russell: Buttermilk & Rifles – 2002
- Russell: Shinyribs: Well After Awhile – 2010
- Russell: Shinyribs: Gulf Coast Museum – 2013
- Smith: The Hard Pans: Budget Cuts - 2014
Television and film
The Gourds have been featured on Austin City Limits (2006) and appeared briefly playing their song "Declineometer" in the season one "Homecoming" episode of Friday Night Lights (2006). They were the subject of a 96-minute documentary by director Doug Hawes-Davis entitled All the Labor (2013). Their song "Dying of the Pines" was included in the HBO Documentary Unknown Soldier: Searching for a Father (2005) and their cover of "Gin and Juice" was used in the season three episode of My Name Is Earl (2007) entitled "The Frank Factor". The band has also scored the Mike Woolf documentaries Growin' a Beard (2003) and Something's Brewin' in Shiner (2004).
- Music of Austin
- official website