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The Gourds Return With ‘Old Mad Joy’


Texas-based roots band the Gourds are set to release their latest album, ‘Old Mad Joy,’ on September 13. It’s the group’s debut on Vanguard Records and also marks the first time since forming in 1994 that they’ve worked with an outside producer. The disc was recorded at legendary rocker Levon Helm‘s studio in Woodstock, NY, with producer Larry Campbell, a former member of Bob Dylan‘s band and current Levon Helm Band guitarist/producer. Campbell’s credits also include musical director of the Midnight Ramble, plus collaborations with Rosanne Cash and Paul Simon.

“Larry just got so excited and it was infectious,” says singer/guitarist Kevin Russell. “For a guy like him to act like that toward us is flattering and inspiring. He became Coach Campbell, rearranging the songs and challenging us to play things we didn’t think we could play. He was like a preacher up on his pulpit. He’d just be waving wildly with his eyes squinted closed, and he was literally conducting us. It was a magical time.”

The historical significance of Levon Helm’s barn studio also played an important role in creating ‘Old Mad Joy.’ Drummer Keith Langford even played Levon’s drums as well as a set of toms that were a gift to Levon from Ringo Starr. The band lived together within biking distance of the barn, cooking up beans and homemade hot sauce each day during the recording process.

The Gourds’ 11th studio album — and their major-label debut — continues to increase their already impressive profile. The band has been featured on ‘Austin City Limits‘ and in 2006 appeared in an episode of the Emmy-nominated ‘Friday Night Lights.’ Their unique brand of Americana music, replete with mandolin, fiddle, accordion and rub-board makes for a memorable live experience, and the group will follow-up the album’s release with a series of live shows across the country. Check here for upcoming tour dates.

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