Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Live at The Mint

Gourds fling into town for some R n R

Express Staff Writer

The Gourds will play The Mint on Thursday night, with opener Jeremiah James Gang. Photo by

When the Gourds appear at The Mint, concert-goers will be able to experience one of the most fun and engaging live bands around.

Founded in the early 1990s, the band consists of Kevin Russell on vocals, guitar and mandolin. Jimmy Smith is on vocals, guitars, bass and "incidentals." Claude Bernard plays accordion, keyboard, guitar, vocals and "network security." Keith Langford takes on drums, "advanced planning, systems analysis and driving," and Max Johnston (formerly of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco) plays fiddles, mandolin, guitar, banjo, lap steel, vocals and "ultimate karate."

"We have a lot of instruments going there," Langford said. "It's an eclectic thing."

"Despite having 'killed' at the Northern Rockies Folk Festival, it's a long time coming back to Hailey," Russel said. "The exuberance was so great at the folk festival. It was legendary. It felt like y'all were at home, together as a group. It was a fun experience. Every once in a while that happens."

The band has a new CD out, their 10th, called "Haymaker." First it was going to be a demo just to try some songs he and Smith had worked on in the shed behind Smith's house in Austin. Then they thought they'd dub in the other band members. But it all sounded so good they moved straight to a release.

"'Haymaker' sounds great," he said. "It's the big news of the year. I generally think it's pretty raw and live sounding 'cause it was recorded that way."

They recorded over several months, whenever they were at home from touring, at Bruce Robison's Premium Studio in Austin.

"The whole thing was really laid back, comfortable and unpressured because of our mental state," Russell said. "We kind of tricked ourselves. Whenever we had a moment we'd get in there. It was a challenge, to do it that way. We had to ask the kids and wives (to let us go record when we weren't supposed to be working). We love the sound of this so much. We wanted to preserve this and stay focused on that. It's easy for a recording to get away from you and sound too polished."

In fact, like a Gourds concert, the sound has an immediacy to it that is at once catchy and danceable.

"We're playing within the moment." Russell said. "We haven't lost the spontaneity of it or the fun. The energy is contagious."

And so it is. This show is produced locally by Piers Lamb and Idaho Concerts in Boise.

Dana DuGan:

Concert information

Who: The Gourds with special guest Jeremiah James Gang

When: Thursday, Feb. 5. Doors 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.

Where: The Mint, 116 S. Main St., Hailey

Tickets: $21 day of show. 21 with ID to enter. Note's Music in Hailey, Atkinsons' Market in Ketchum and Hailey, $18 in advance.

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