Austin roots band the Gourds just announced via their Facebook fan page that they will play Miller Outdoor Theatre July 22. The band last played at Miller July 9, 2009, opening for the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Gourds singer and stringer Kevin Russell told Lonesome, Onry and Mean prior to the 2009 gig that the band has never done well on large outdoor stages like the Miller, where the audience is so far back from the band. But after the show, he was ecstatic, calling it the best large-venue show the band had ever done.
"This is one of the most memorable of shows of the year for me," says Russell. "For starters, it is in the true heart of Houston, a beautiful central city park they call Hermann. So cute those Houstonians. Miller Theater is a truly wonderful facility with a pro crew of easygoing folks.
"Strolling through the park after sound check, I came upon a spirit in the woods. I was given whiskey and charms."
He goes on:
From this, I gained a feeling for the frequency of the city. I channeled this secret knowledge into my performance. Broken strings lately have been nipping at the psychological development of our sets. This evening was no exception. Me and Max both broke strings on guitar and mandolin. But we didn't miss a beat.
After the show Keith and I went out to sell merchandise and sign autographs. For some reason the others did not. The scene out there was so fun," Russell continues. "We were inundated with people wanting CDs and T-shirts and autographs. I was actually applauded as I walked out to the merch table. Crazy.
That has never happened before. The diversity of the audience we played for was reflected by the crowd assembled around our table. It was truly a multicultural event. One young African-American kid probably around 12 years old wanted me to autograph a poster and a dollar bill as his whole giant family of mother, father, and four sisters looked on. Young Latino kids with $-emblem sideways hats came up and had their pictures taken with me.
"Ukrainian and Russian girls walked up squealing, 'My name is Olga, you made me crazy.' Hilarious shit like that happened for about an hour. I felt like President Obama.
The band recently announced plans to record an album later this month with longtime Bob Dylan sideman Larry Campbell producing. Campbell works with Levon Helm these days, and will record the album at Helm's studio in Woodstock, N.Y. According to Russell, the band leaves immediately after South By Southwest and begins recording March 21.
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They've booked two weeks at the studio.
Longtime Texas blues-rock stalwart and Stevie Ray Vaughan chum Doyle Bramhall is set to open the Miller Outdoor show. All events at the city-owned facility are free to the public.