The Austin, Texas based band Shinyribs will headline the City of Bennettsville's 2 Hours From Anywhere Summer Concert Series, on June 8.
Once you’ve seen Shinyribs’ Kevin Russell on-stage and heard his band’s music, it’s impossible to forget. Known for his outrageous outfits and antics, he’s a regular fashion icon, liable to turn up in anything from his lime-green sherbet leisure suit to a flashing LED cloak.
Russell recently donned the cloak for a soulful performance of “East Texas Rust” on the award-winning PBS show Austin City Limits.
One of the pioneers of the Americana genre as a member of The Gourds, Russell took his musical inspiration from the fertile Ark-La-Tex turf. In the immortal words of the title track to their most recent album, “I Got Your Medicine,” Shinyribs band has the cure to whatever ails you.
“It’s the universal dance anyone can do,” he says. “Nobody feels self-conscious or out of place. It’s a great way to get everybody involved. You can’t really top that.”
As Austin royalty, Shinyribs is one of the music world’s best-kept secrets, but not for long. The eight-piece outfit was recently named Best Austin Band for 2017, while I Got Your Medicine was tapped as Album of the Year at the Chronicle’s prestigious Music Awards.
Balding with a scraggly beard and an unapologetic gut, the 50-year-old Russell boasts the indelible spirit and nudge-nudge, wink-wink playful quality of a man forever young, who points to the likes of Tony Joe White and the Coasters for his Shinyribs-tickling, mind-expanding, butt-shaking “is he for real” sense of humor.
The crack eight-piece band features, aside from Russell, keyboardist Winfield Cheek, bassist Jeff Brown and drummer Keith Langford, along with the Tijuana Trainwreck Horns (trumpet player Tiger Anaya and Mark Wilson on sax and flute) and the Shiny Soul Singers (Alice Spencer and Kelley Mickwee).
About his status as a local hero, Russell says, “The competition is pretty serious here in Austin. I don’t know how big a fish I am, but I certainly flop around a lot.”
Russell’s Shinyribs has recorded four albums since starting out as his “solo” side project, beginning with 2010’s Well After Awhile, followed by Gulf Coast Museum (2013), Okra Candy (2015) and last year’s award-winning I Got Your Medicine. The band is currently working on a fifth release, putting the final touches on demos Kevin started in his backyard studio, with Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin providing some of the horn arrangements.
Russell’s parents were both music lovers, his father teaching him his first guitar chords, “then pretty much letting me go my own way. As a teenager, he went through a hard-core punk phase, attracted to west coast acts like Minutemen, Husker Du and Gun Club, followed by an alternative/college fascination with R.E.M., the dBs and the Replacements.
“I was raised in an era where there were no rules, where marketing and specialization hadn’t yet become the status quo,” he says of his vast musical canvas. “I think of radio as playing all styles of music; everything is up for grabs. I never wanted to play just one kind of music. Honestly, I don’t know how to do anything else. I love mashing things together you wouldn’t expect, like a taco donut.
“My thing is to love and respect everyone, to accept everyone for who they are. You can be whoever you want to be at a Shinyribs show… that’s what I’m trying to convey with my music and the performance,” says Russell.
“I feel good when I play and sing this music. I want everybody to experience that same pleasure. I just want to keep serving the music I love, and continue to evolve my art,” he says.
The free concert will be held at a new venue for outdoor music in Bennettsville - on the grounds of the Marlboro County Historical Museum. Shineyribs will take the stage at dusk. Food trucks and a beer and wine vendor will be on site.