Gourds, Orange Mothers, Musikanto | Martyrs' | Rock, Pop, Etc, Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Gourds, Orange Mothers, Musikanto Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Fri., May 1, 9 p.m. 2009

I’m pretty sure there isn’t a better roots-rock band out there today than Austin’s Gourds, who seem more like a postmodern incarnation of the Band with each album they release. The quintet doesn’t add anything new to its raucous blend of honky-tonk, folk rock, and bluegrass on the recent Haymaker! (Yep Roc), but it continues to refine that twangy brew into a distinctive sound. Front man Jimmy Smith, a reedy croaker, delivers the non sequitur-laden oddities, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell handles the comparatively straight raveups (sort of like John Hiatt if Hiatt weren’t such a square), and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston, a long-ago member of Wilco and Freakwater, contributes a couple of sweet ballads, the most normal-sounding tunes here. Even at their most tossed-off, the ragged group harmonies are charming, and all the members have become flexible, highly resourceful players who make even the weirdest turns sound easy. Their goofiness can be off-­putting, as can the crowds they attract—their shows sometimes feel like going to see a jam band—but I’ve braved both to hear the music. Orange Mothers and Musikanto open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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