Oh, My Gourds!
The Gourds, one of my all-time favorite bands, decided to take a hiatus, effective immediately. They have a final show October 27th in Austin. Although I’m heartbroken they won’t be coming my way anytime soon (who knows when they’ll be back), I am very thankful that we took a chance in August and made it to their show at The Tractor Tavern in Seattle. That show was a culmination of a two-night marathon of music for me, which included seeing Big Sandy at The Tractor the night before, and Willie Nelson earlier the same night.
Since first discovering The Gourds on Austin City Limits back in 2007, I managed to see them at least once a year. Their relentless touring schedule brought them from Austin to Seattle and to all parts of the country. For their final show, almost every state in the union will be represented. People are flying in or road-tripping to Austin to witness the big finale.
I received more soulful satisfaction at their live shows than I ever got in those dead-quiet Baptist (Northern Baptist, that is) Sundays. No other band, religious or otherwise, could ever match my feelings of joy and praise that I experienced a live Gourds show. Maybe God did work His magic through them. I told Kevin Russell last time I saw him: “Your music fills my soul!” He threw his arms up and responded, “Yes! Success!! Got another one!” We had a good laugh over that.
My Favorite Gourds Memories include:
Kevin Russell pickin’ out a tune on mandolin in his bare feet, eyes rolled up in his head, summoning the Holy Spirit. His trunk and limbs, orbiting, gyrating, posing, posturing, stomping, kicking, flinging, rolling, shaking, quaking to the music. He never stopped. A sight to behold–to have beheld. Telling Kev at Hatties Hat (a bar next to The Tractor) that I’m writing a review of his show: “Oh, Shit,” he responds. Later onstage that night, he sees me at our little table up front and nods and smiles at me; but I give him the stink eye and the two-finger stab. “I’m watchin’ you…” Of course, I couldn’t contain my smile.
Jimmy Smith’s antics on the bass–throwing his head back, shouting lyrics, stretching his arms out, or stuffing his hands in his pockets waiting for Kev to finish an improvised picking jam session.
The sound of Claude Bernard’s beautiful accordion putting me in the mood for Cajun food and taking a trip to Louisiana.
Watching drummer Keith Langford’s face smiling through the entire set while working out the drums, keeping up with the vast changes in setlists, song styles, mash-ups and medleys. Finally getting to meet him at their last show in August.
Max Johnston’s thick fingers deftly moving up and down the fiddle neck or picking the banjo or sliding across the lap steel. At one show, a topless girl standing behind me goes unnoticed by me, but not by Max, who glances out and gives a sly smirk. My husband and neighbor finally show me what Max was smiling about.
Short jam sessions with all five members completely immersed in a song. I could never completely capture those rapturous moments with my camera.
The lyrics and song titles: literate, cryptic, poetic, poignant, sexy, and hilarious.
Favorite Live Songs: “Lower 48”, “Shake the Chandelier”, “Burn the Honeysuckle”, “Ants on the Melon”, “My name is Jorge”, “Mr. Betty”
I’ll miss The Gourds, but I’ll always be thankful they were a part of my life–a part of my live music evangelism.