DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE AND SINGING ALONG WITH SHINYRIBS
DENNIS AND BRENDA KIPPA
This week, we're going in reverse with our comments. Brenda's going to give the general scoop on our highlighted band, and Dennis will add his comments. (This is full disclosure, hometown-newspaper commentary style).
When our odyssey of discovering Americana music brought us to a door marked “Shinyribs”, we had been given certain information. “You'll love them”; “They're different”; “Most of the guys used to be with a well-established Austin band called The Gourds”; and again, “They're different”. Often added was something like “You'll swear that guy has no bones”, or “He looks like a happy gnome”, referring to the group's leader, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell.
As the CD was pulled into the player, we closed our eyes and jumped down the rabbit hole.
From the first notes of their first CD (Well After Awhile, released in 2010), we were yanked into an alternate universe of psychedelic swamp jangle/honky-tonk blues sounds with a nice dollop of very fun lyrics littered everywhere. Wafting through it all, we could sometimes hear sweet, rich harmonies and (yes!) a smattering of yodeling.
Before long, we found ourselves singing along with several of their songs. This put us into the world of a pilgrim who built the moon. He would have been rescued by the Apollo flights (who knew that's why we went there?!), but he got scared and was hiding in a hole when they arrived.
Another sing-along (If You Need The 442) had us singing this: “Well my first gray hair/it growed through my nose/and I can't say if it invaded my mustache/it's too much to think about”, while shopping at (singing along with) the Poor People's Store had us memorizing every kind of goofy item you can imagine, with the sole qualification being that it rhyme with the last item.
Climbing out of the rabbit hole, we agreed on one thing for certain: we had to see a live performance.
Shinyribs is the alter-ego of Kevin Russell, who is songwriter, singer, guitar player, and all-around crazy man and inspiration for the group. Keith Langford is the drummer, Jeff Brown is the bass player and on keyboards is “Kentucky Fried Keyboard Whiz” Winfield Cheek.
Russell was born in Beaumont, Texas, and grew up in the Church of Christ and the biker bars of Louisiana. By the age of 17, he was playing his own version of hippie jam/country blues madness for college crowds and grumpy bikers who wanted “different”. By now, “different” is always assured.
We got our chance to see the band play. On the four hour drive to the venue in Bryan, we convinced our daughters that it would be amusing for the band if we learned the lyrics to a couple of the songs. What we had in mind was that we would be like some of the audiences you see in videos. As it turned out, every single person in the audience had the same idea, and Shinyribs was more than ready for us. By changing a few things here and there, they stayed in command all the way through without stripping us of too much dignity. Sure enough, it felt like we had fallen down the rabbit hole again, led by a madcap gnome with no bones. The chemistry between Winfield Cheek (keyboards) and the antics of Shinyribs was mesmerizing, and every single song was played as if it were the encore. The lineup that night included two other bands – one of which was none other than the great Uncle Lucius – yet Shinyribs played for well over two and a half hours. To say we were well entertained would be an insulting understatement. We were also worn out, and the sun was rising when we saw Wood County again.
My advice? Buy Shinyribs's music. Go see their show. Feel like a crazy fool kid again. It's times like these we dare not miss.
Well once again my better half is correct. Gosh, I hate when she does that. Anyway Shinyribs is a group you have to hear. Go to a music player like Spotify or Pandora,crank it up and enjoy. In my humble opinion there are two sleepers on the album. The last one on the CD is an old Sam Cooke song called Change is Gonna Come.Beautifully sung with heart and soul. The other is called Fisherman's Friend and it talks about a spiritual walk with Jesus. It least that’s what I hear. And don't forget the new CD is called Gulf Coast Museum and it is of course outstanding!