The Gourds

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The Gourds
The Gourds performing in Austin, Texas, in 2007
Background information
Origin Austin, Texas, US
Genres Alternative country
Progressive bluegrass
Texas Country
Years active 1994–2013 (on hiatus)
Labels Munich, Watermelon, Sugar Hill, Eleven Thirty, Yep Roc, Vanguard Records
Associated acts The Bumz
Picket Line Coyotes
The Grackles
Old Government
Clocker Redbury and Dusty Slosinger
The Tinys
Kev Russell's Junker
The Hard Pans
Members Kevin Russell
Jimmy Smith
Claude Bernard
Keith Langford
Max Johnston
Past members Charlie Llewellin

The Gourds are an American alternative country band that formed in Austin, Texas, during the summer of 1994.[1] After playing together for 19 consecutive years, the band went on hiatus in 2013.


Primarily evolving from the Picket Line Coyotes and the Grackles,[2] The Gourds first line-up consisted of Kevin Russell (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Jimmy Smith (vocals, bass, guitar), Claude Bernard (accordion, guitar, vocals), and Charlie Llewellin (drums, percussion).[3] Llewellin was replaced by 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.[4][5][6] 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.[7][8][9]

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.[10] In fact, for most of the 16 years following their first live performance of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice",[11] fans could regularly be heard calling out for the band's cover version of the song, sometimes 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 impromptu cover songs to its midsection.[12][13][14]

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.[15][16][17][18] As a result, they enjoyed a dedicated fan base[19][20] that was happy to follow them from town to town,[21][22] and became a favorite among those who tape live music.[23][24]

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.[25][26][27]

In August 2011, director Doug Hawes-Davis began shooting a documentary on the band that combined candid interviews with live performances, past and present. Musician and filmmaker Brendan Canty worked as a camera operator and ran location sound on the project, which drew partial funding from Kickstarter in 2012[28] and premiered in Austin at the South by Southwest film festival on March 13, 2013.[29] The film was released on DVD in 2014.[30]

On October 18, 2013, The Gourds announced that 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.[31][32] Despite having only nine days notice, Gourds fans from 26 different states were in attendance, and many more watched from home via live streaming video.[33] During an interview the following year, Russell stated, “I think it’s done,” adding, “The only reason we said hiatus was that we didn’t want to say it was done, because that would be final". [34] In response to Russel's comments, Langford stated, "I still wish that someday there could be a project of some kind. Knowing all these dudes, it probably wouldn't be an extended thing. But, some new songs or shows or something". [35] Two months later, in December of 2014, Russell seemed slightly more accepting of the idea when he said, "We left it open-ended for a reason . . . I have a little hope that one day we'll get back together and do something". [36] To date, Bernard, Johnston, and Smith have not commented publicly on either the hiatus or the possibility of a reunion.



Studio albums[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • Gogitchyershinebox – 1998
  • Shinebox – 2001


  • Growin' a Beard – 2003
  • Something's Brewin' in Shiner – 2004
  • All The Labor – 2014

Side projects[edit]

  • 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/Bernard: The Hard Pans: Budget Cuts – 2014
  • Johnston: Max Johnston: Dismantling Paradise – 2014

Television and film[edit]

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).[30] Their song "Dying of the Pines" was included in the HBO Documentary Unknown Soldier: Searching for a Father (2005)[citation needed] 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).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] A thorough developmental history of the Gourds with quotes from everyone in the band (2000)
  2. ^ [2] A brief discussion of the Picket Line Coyotes and the Grackles as precursors to the Gourds (2006)
  3. ^ [3] Webpage bio for the Gourds original drummer (2008)
  4. ^ [4] Russell dates the arrival of Langford and Johnston (2009)
  5. ^ [5] Russell's 1st person account of how the Gourds evolved from The Bumz (1998)
  6. ^ [6] More developmental history of the Gourds with quotes from Russell (1999)
  7. ^ [7] Interview with Russell and almost with Smith that touches on their different approaches to songwriting (1999)
  8. ^ [8] Russell remarks on the Gourds sound and his own approach to songwriting (2002)
  9. ^ [9] Russell discusses the addition of Max Johnston and having three songwriters in one band (2008)
  10. ^ Lieck, Ken (16 June 2000). "Dancing About Architecture: The Gourds weren't Phishing for trouble when they covered "Gin and Juice"; the Meat Puppets have (probably) found a new home". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  11. ^ [10] Canadian interview with Russell in which he discusses the debut of "Gin and Juice" (2002)
  12. ^ [11] Noble Creatures review with a brief discussion of "Gin and Juice" on p. 21 (2007)
  13. ^ [12] Alaskan interview with Russell in which he answers the question "When do you play your hit song?" (2007)
  14. ^ [13] In Cucurbitaceae message No. 78,921 Russell states "We just can't do [Gin and Juice] anymore without throwing up in our mouths a little bit" (Feb 13, 2009)
  15. ^ [14] A typical first-timer’s live experience of the Gourds (2003)
  16. ^ [15] More recent live review suggests "Some things never change...the Gourds still rock" (2009)
  17. ^ [16] Veteran Austin music writer Michael Corcoran reviews a live show and says the Gourds are still the best in town (2008)
  18. ^ [17] UK radio show suggests the Gourds studio work is unfairly overshadowed by their live reputation (2008)
  19. ^ [18] Background on the Gourds internet fan list (2002)
  20. ^ [19] Founder of Wikipedia names the Gourds as his favorite musicians (2007)
  21. ^ [20] Florida writer mentions fans who follow the Gourds around the country (2008)
  22. ^ [21] Houston Press acknowledges "a growing legion of fanatics [who] travel far and wide following the band" (2009)
  23. ^ [22] A guide to the live recordings of the Gourds (1994 to 2005)
  24. ^ [23] Some examples of the Gourds live recordings (1994 to 2013)
  25. ^ [24] Austin Chronicle quotes Smith and mentions upcoming album (2011)
  26. ^ Smith, William Michael (12 April 2011). "Gourds Drummer Lives The Dream At Levon Helm's Studio". Houston Press. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  27. ^ [25] Huffington Post review (2011)
  28. ^ "All The Labor by Doug Hawes-Davis — Kickstarter". Kickstarter. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  29. ^ "All the Labor (Schedule)". South by Southwest. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  30. ^ a b Pernu, Dennis (April 2014). "Rev. of The Gourds, All the Labor". Vintage Guitar. pp. 140–41. 
  31. ^ " The Gourds announce upcoming hiatus" (2013)
  32. ^ "The Gourds official website reports hiatus" (2013)
  33. ^ [26]
  34. ^ [27]
  35. ^ [28]
  36. ^ [29]

External links[edit]