Wednesday, Spetember 26, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 25


The Gourds cover everyone from Dr. Dre to David Bowie on 'Shinebox'

The Gourds
**** (out of five stars)
Munich Records

By Ellen Simonson
Daily Cougar Staff

The Gourds deserve recognition first and foremost for the initial song on their latest release, Shinebox -- a rowdy number titled "Gin & Juice."

Further investigation reveals that yes, indeed, this is a cover of the notorious Snoop Dogg/ Dr. Dre hit. It takes either a lot of self-parody or a lot of
bravery to cover a song that has become such a classic -- the Gourds, luckily, have both.

The chorus to the original "Gin & Juice" has become imprinted in the collective psyche of much of America. 

Select someone at random and say to them, "Rollin' down the street, smokin' indo…" See if they don't immediately, almost involuntarily, reply,
"Sippin' on gin and juice!"

Then the two of you can croon together: "With my mind on my money and my money on my mind." It just works that way. Everybody knows that

It's heartening, then, that the Gourds handle its cover version with aplomb, deftly turning it into the perfect drunken party anthem. (Of course, it
was that anyway, but now it's for a slightly different audience.)

Hilarious, dead-on bluegrass vocals add just the right amount of levity to prove the band isn't taking itself seriously.

Not lyrically, anyway. The band's work on the single displays talent and intelligence as well as a sense of humor. The rich instrumentation and
well-organized jam the Gourds implement here is appealing.

That being said, it's important to note here that although the Gourds is a cover band, it's not representative of all that such a name implies.

Ordinarily, "cover bands" do generally accurate versions of one or more other bands' work (for example, every town in America has a Grateful
Dead cover band). Members of the Gourds don't just reiterate, they reinterpret.

Besides, Shinebox offers an inspired version of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust."

The band seems to challenge itself to find the least plausible songs in the world for a bluegrass band to play, then cover them with such gusto
and talent the listener wonders why they weren't countrified to begin with.

The Gourds' version of "Gin & Juice" garnered a lot of attention on Napster and services like it, except the song was attributed to Vermont
neo-hippie cult band Phish.

The confusion may have resulted from the existence of a New York City hip-hop artist named Phish, who contributed to the original version with
Dr. Dre.

In any case, while the band doesn't seem to mind, its potential worldwide popularity had to have been impeded by the mistake.

Other, less-known songs are covered on Shinebox as well.

Townes Van Zandt's "Two Girls" undergoes a respectful revision, and Billy Joe Shaver's "Omaha" retains all its original impact and more.

Their Web site describes the Gourds as "unwashed and well read." It's as good as any way to encapsulate a band that is simultaneously
intelligent, funny and surprisingly, quite good.

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