Kevin Russell is primarily known as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, and banjo) for eclectic Austin, TX, roots-rockers the Gourds. On his own, Russell (using the moniker Kev Russell's Junker) stepped out with the album Buttermilk and Rifles on Sugar Hill Records in 2002. The effort featured appearances by a bevy of fellow Gourds and other Austin luminaries such as Jon Dee Graham.
When Russell was growing up, his father was in the oil business, leading to a somewhat peripatetic existence for the family. When Kevin was in junior high, his dad moved them from Beaumont, TX, to Houston. Unsettled by the change from a blue-collar neighborhood to the high-class suburbs, Russell turned to guitar and writing songs. He also fell in with the skateboard crowd, who introduced the Southern rock- and country-loving Russell to punk rock. He would soon discover the sounds of groups like the Replacements and Beat Farmers through the writings of local music journo Marty Racine. Those groups would play an import role in influencing Kevin's music career, which began in earnest when his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. There, he launched his own path with the Picket Line Coyotes, a group that would foster the seeds of the Gourds, after relocation (to both Dallas and Austin) and dissolution.
Russell had been playing in Austin as a duo with Ron Byrd after the dissolution of the Picket Line Coyotes while former bandmate Jimmy Smith had been woodshedding in a small East Texas town. The two would eventually come back together to form the songwriting foundation of the Gourds. Russell had undertaken some solo recordings in the mid-'90s, which -- while remaining unreleased -- would bring him and Smith back together again. Russell and Smith both emerged as formidable songwriters with the Gourds' debut, Dem's Good Beeble in 1996. The group's multi-instrumental and songwriting capabilities would draw numerous comparisons to the Band. ~ Erik Hage, Rovi