Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gourds @ The State Theatre

Usually every six months we have the pleasure to watch The Gourds perform at the The State Theatre in Falls Church Virginia; this time in support of there latest CD Haymaker!. Ever since seeing them perform at the Austin City Limits festival several years ago, this band has entertained us with their uncanny lyrics, zany behavior, and extraordinary musical talents. And extraordinary is an understatement. Start with Max Johnston who during a show will play the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and a lap steel guitar. When not playing the mandolin Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith will smoothly transition from the others electric and bass guitar. Add in Claude Bernard on the accordion and organ and Keith Langford on percussion and you have the composition of one of our favorite bands. Maybe the favorite.

And this show was no exception. It could probably be called the Kevin Russell show, because it seemed that the night revolved around him. Not that that's a bad thing. He was his zany self on stage and perhaps since most of the songs played from Haymaker! appeared to be his. They started with Country Love Listen and throughout the night we also heard All the Way to Jericho; Shreveport; Tex-Mex Mile; Way You Can Get; and Country Gal - all Russell songs. Add in Russell's "The Lower 48" and he was the man. That's odd because I really liked Smith's tracks on the new album. As with Johnston's pair - particularly "Tighter".

The first time I listened to Haymaker! I wasn't sure what I thought - probably because all CD's are instantly compared to Cow Fish Fowl or Pig. But I spent the day after the show re-listening to the CD and it is tight. It's better than the last two: Noble Creatures and Heavy Ornamentals; with great vocals, harmonies and the standard "jambalaya" of instruments. Go buy this CD.

The Justin Trawick Band opened the show and they provided a solid performance to start the night. Many of us have followed Trawick on his usual local circuit at IOTA Club, Vermilion, and The Rookery. But tonight he had a few extra's including Ken Wenzel - who was excellent on the sax. The band had a great sound with the sax, Jean Finstad on bass cello, Will Reinhardt on drums, and Josh Himmelsbach on lead guitar. Some in our party thought it had a Dave Matthews-ish quality - maybe - but not being a great Dave Matthews fan - I like to think of them as having a Trawick-ish sound.


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