With their homespun, loosey-goosey style, The Gourds have often been compared to The Band and to Levon Helm over the course of the Austin roots band's 16-year career. Late Friday, the Gourds announced that Helm's guitarist Larry Campbell will produce their tenth studio album, which will be recorded at Helm's studio in Woodstock, N.Y.
Former Houstonian and longtime industry veteran Bill Bentley, currently Director of A&R for Vanguard Records, was the key connection in linking The Gourds with Campbell. The album will be the Gourds' first since Haymaker! was released in January 2009.
Started in New York City in 1950, Vanguard became noted for its early forays into folk music and blues, but has also released important jazz sides as well some classical music. Now based in Los Angeles, the label is now owned by the Welk Group.
According to Kevin Russell of The Gourds, the band has the songs written and is on a heavier rehearsal schedule than usual.
"The plan is to record a lot of the next one live, so we want to be prepared. Or at least as prepared as The Gourds can get," he laughs.
"Vanguard has been very open and generous with us, and things just feel really right," says Russell. "We're all extremely excited about the next few months."
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Campbell is probably best known for his seven years in Bob Dylan's band during the Never Ending Tour. He also was a major influence on Dylan's groundbreaking 2001 album "Love and Theft", and has been credited with taking Dylan into new musical areas like Western swing.
Campbell, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association in 2009, produced Levon Helm's last two albums, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt, and serves as the bandleader for Helm's Midnight Rambles.