Horton Records is bringing Kevin Russell’s Shinyribs to Tulsa for a free show on Guthrie Green Sunday April 27 at 4:30 PM. Fans of Austin’s fabulous Gourds will recognize Russell as the mandolin and guitar picking vocalist of this thinking man’s party band, or as they say “music for the the unwashed and well-read”. While many grieved when the Gourds announced the band’s “indefinite hiatus” in 2013, much of what we love about that band, clever lyrics and booty-shaking grooves for instance, live on in Shinyribs. But don’t take my word for it, come out to the park and check it out for yourself this Sunday. Also on the bill are Oklahoma’s own Pilgrim and Honeylark beginning at 2:00 PM.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Russell about his music and the upcoming show. He’ll be bringing his full band, which includes brother-in-law and former Gourds’ member, Keith Langford, on drums. Russell has even added some horns to the mix. “I have a horn section, now…They’re called the Tijuana TrainWreck Horns. A saxophone player and a trombone player,” he told me.
It’s quite possible we’ll be hearing a few cuts off of Russell’s next album, Okra Candy, on Sunday. It will be his third Shinyribs’ release. “I’m just now finishing [it],” Russell told me. “It’s going to be really good. It’s going to be all over the map again genre-wise. That’s kind of the thing I do, have always done. I’m a genre-hopper,” he laughed.
Russell’s songwriting covers an array of topics. Food, fables, family – they’re all in there. He’s not afraid to hold and express an opinion, either, in his songs and in his personal life. “I’m an independent thinker. That’s how my parents raised me to be, just to think for myself. I’m irreverent and I’m rebellious, but I’m also a traditionalist, so I have strong opinions about things. It just depends on the issue. I try to be thoughtful about it and think about all sides of an issue before I make up my mind.”
His independence extends to his politics. “Some people I know think I’m George Bush’s best friend, and some people think I’m a communist,” he laughed. “It just depends on the issue and maybe my mood, even, what my opinion’s going to be…I can even change my mind if someone debates me well…I don’t make it personal. Politics, to me, isn’t personal. It’s just a matter of getting the right solution.”
A literate, deep thinker (or a “well-readneck”, as Russell would say), there’s more to Russell’s music than catchy hooks and memorable melodies, although there’s plenty of that, too. “There’s layers of stuff going on. If you pay attention and you get it, that’s great. But if you don’t, that’s fine, too. You don’t have to. A lot of people dismiss it from the get-go; it just doesn’t appeal to them. They think it’s just hootin’ and hollering’. But you know, you’re rewarded by a little more patience and a little more focus on it,” Russell explained.
“I do it for myself first,” Russell said of his songwriting. “First it has to feel good to me, then I can think about it a little bit and add this or that, maybe a little hidden comment here or there. Or some little subversive this or that just for fun. Just so I know there’s something in there that maybe most people aren’t even hearing or knowing what’s going on there, but I know, and it’s kind of fun. Like a little puzzle,” he laughed.
For more information on the Tulsa concert, visit Guthrie Green.