The little kids almost stole the show from The Gourds Thursday night at Central Market in Ft Worth. They hit the dance floor early, by the first verse of the opening song. Two little girls at first, cute as all hell, waltzing and twirling to “Dying Of The Pines.” They were soon followed by the all the rest of the kids there and by the end of the second song, the highly danceable “My Name Is Jorge,” it looked a little like first grade free form dance class out there, only with better music.
My friend who turned me onto the place once described it as “the only bar in town with a playland.” So when the Gourds faithful showed up, they brought the kids. And the kids seemed to love it.
Of course at a show like this, it’s easy to forget you’re at a grocery store, not a bar. Even with a half dozen toddlers hamming it up.
Early on, a couple of them asked the band to play “Jolly Joe,” (I think they meant “Collections” which features the line: “Jolly Joe drinks his cappuccino”) Kevin Russell pointed out that The Gourds “almost always play almost all requests.” I’m pretty sure they almost played it.
The kiddies kept on dancing, at least until they played the new love ballad “Promenade,” at that point all the kids lay right down as though it were naptime. All of them. It was like they were collectively saying: "Hey, this isn’t what The Gourds are supposed to sound like!" That was duly noted from the stage and, I’m willing to bet, a fact that might have just sold some copies of their new CD, “Noble Creatures” to a few observant parents.
They brought the full array of instruments and kept the hits (if you could actually call a popular Gourds song a hit) coming. They covered the whole Gourds catalog, playing something from all nine albums.
And they had beards. Well, all except drummer Keith Langford and fiddler Max Johnson (I merely say “fiddler” so I don’t have to list all the instruments Max plays). If there were a gnarliest beard competition, Kevin, with his sheer length and Bassist Jimmy Smith, with that wild, graying facial mane would probably tie. Although accordion slinging keyboardist Claude Bernard looks to be closing in on them.
Kevin was as entertaining as ever, jigging and wailing and even shredding some electric strings, but it was Jimmy who appeared to really be in prime form. Early on he noted it would be strictly G rated (adding “That’s too bad because I could do some really twisted stuff) but what he lacked in profanity, he made up for in spirit. He did the two songs that I’d call the absolute high points, a scorching version of the blues-rock throw down “Spivey,” from the new record, and the show’s closer, a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Nuthin.” They closed the last Ft Worth show I saw with that and I think it may be my new favorite cover in their exhaustive repertoire.
Of course that could change with the next show I see or hear on disc.
All in all, it was an exceptional show. Those big billowy clouds that have covered
Photos by seabiscuit