Monday, February 04, 2008

Two evenings with the Gourds

The Gourds at the Aardvark - Fort Worth TX - February 1, 2008

I met my friend Lance and his brother after work on Friday at the Aardvark -- my second night in a row to see the Gourds. Fun times!
A good-sized crowd was on hand Friday at the Aardvark...
A few observations on Gourds frontman Kevin Russell... Is there anything cooler than seeing a balding, slightly overweight, middle aged man with a chest-length beard, furiously strumming a mandolin while belting out the words to a Snoop Dogg rap song in a nasally bluegrass twang?

full-grown and cussin': Kev Russell of the Gourds

And the Snoop Dogg persona is just a small portion of the world of musical talent he brings to the stage. Kev is gifted with exceptional vocal range, from falsetto highs to Waylon Jennings lows, and even the occasional yodel. His mandolin skills are easily equalled -- if not surpassed -- by his talents on the electric guitar. The jams he threw down during the extended 10-minute version of "Do 4 U" blew me away. He's a good stage leader and a showman, but he's also a hell of a nice guy and totally down to earth -- everything you'd want in a front man for your band, on or off the stage. Every night, you can tell that he's really enjoying himself, playing music that he loves. During some of the songs, he'll dance around a bit -- a style I can only describe as "hillbilly jig". During others, he'll get really worked up in the lyrics and he'll start shouting and yelling with such conviction and intensity that you'd swear he was speaking in tongues. And the faces he makes while rockin' out on the mandolin -- if Jimi Hendrix had been a bluegrass musician, he might have looked a little like Kevin. There's never a dull moment when Kevin's on stage...

Gourds set list - Friday Feb 1, 2008 in Fort Worth (at the Aardvark):
Blood of the ram
Steeple full of swallows
Illegal oyster
Nitty gritty (Doug Sahm)
Do 4 U (with "LaGrange" intro and long instrumental jam)
Blankets warming
Burn the honeysuckle
Layin' around the house
Ants on the melon
El Paso
Omaha (Billy Joe Shaver)
All in the pack
Kicks in the sun
(Somebody Bring Me A Flower) I'm a Robot
Teacher (Jethro Tull)
How will you shine

Feelin on yo booty (R. Kelly) - Kevin & Keith only
Isis (Bob Dylan)
All the labor
Gin n Juice medley - included "Does Ft Worth ever cross your mind?", "Surrender", etc

The Gourds at Dan's Silverleaf - Denton, TX - January 31, 2008.

I had to work (off duty at 22:50) so I got there in the middle of the show. I'm not sure how many songs I missed. I got to hear them do 18 songs, so it was still worth the trip. I wasn't able to compile a good set list, but highlights included: "Take me back to Tulsa" (Bob Wills), "Oh Sister" (Bob Dylan), "I like drinking" (from the "Stadium Blitzer" album), "State of Arkansas", and "Gin & Juice".

Thursday Jan 31 at Dan's Silverleaf
The Gourds at Dan's Silverleaf
Most entertaining commentary between songs: Kevin, after they had finished "Take me back to Tulsa": "Ah, a little Bob Wills never hurt anybody. Well, except for that one guy..." And there were many references to a young woman who'd had too much to drink, climbed onstage... and then just stood there. Bar owner Dan became noticably nervous, but she left the stage without incident. Too bad, I was hoping for the same kind of "show" I experienced when I saw Hank III last summer.
During the encore, Brent Best (of Denton institution the Drams, formerly Slobberbone) joined them on stage for the final song. Was that a Neil Young cover?
Brent Best of the Drams (right) on stage with the Gourds

Top it all off with a few two-dollar Lone Stars (on tap!) and it was a danged fun evening.
np: Bobby Bare - "Dropkick me, Jesus"

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