- This event has passed.
Once you’ve seen Shinyribs’ Kevin Russell on-stage and heard his band’s music, it’s impossible
to forget him. Known for his outrageous outfits and antics, Russell is a regular Austin fashion
icon, liable to turn up in anything from his lime-green sherbet leisure suit to a flashing LED
cloak, which he donned for a soulful performance of “East Texas Rust” on the award-winning
PBS show Austin City Limits.
Born and raised in Beaumont, East Texas, Russell has been dubbed (mostly by himself) the
Baryshnikov of the Big Thicket, the Pavarotti of the Pineywoods, the Shakespeare of Swamp
Pop or the Shiniest Man in Showbidniz. Balding with a scraggly beard and an unapologetic gut,
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 rib-tickling,
mind-expanding, butt-shaking “is he for real” sense of humor. As a member of The Gourds,
Russell took his musical inspiration from the fertile Ark-La-Tex turf and became a pioneer of
Shinyribs is one of the music world’s best-kept secrets, but not for long. The eight-piece outfit
was named Best Austin Band for 2017 and 2018 at the Austin Chronicle’s Austin Music Awards
and their album, “I Got Your Medicine,” was tapped as Album of the Year. Shinyribs was also
nominated by Black Fret in 2015 for a grant and was selected as a recipient.
The crack eight-piece band features Russell on lead vocals, uke, and electric guitar, as well as
keyboardist Winfield Cheek, bassist Jeff Brown and drummer Keith Langford, with the Tijuana
Trainwreck Horns (trumpet player Tiger Anaya and Mark Wilson on sax and flute) and the Shiny
Soul Sisters (Alice Spencer and Kelley Mickwee), as well as occasional on-stage appearances
by the Riblets, Shinyribs’ very own dance troupe.
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.”
Kevin Russell might not take himself too seriously, but he is dead-serious about the eclectic
blend of music he favors, combining Texas blues, New Orleans R&B funk, horn-driven Memphis
soul, country twang, border music, big band swing, roots-rock, Tin Pan Alley and even punk into
a raucous mix that includes such out-of-the-blue cover nods as David Bowie’s “Golden Years”
(a posthumous tribute with an unlikely “On Broadway” groove) or the Beatles’ “Everybody’s Got
Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey” (interpolated into a live version of “Poor
People’s Store,” his populist “jingle” for an imaginary bargain-basement outlet).
Russell’s Shinyribs have recorded five albums since starting out as his “solo” side project,
starting with 2010’s “Well After Awhile,” followed by “Gulf Coast Museum” (2013), “Okra Candy”
(2015), 2017’s award-winning “I Got Your Medicine,” and the holiday project “The Kringle
Tingle” (2018). The band’s impending release, “Fog & Bling,” set to be released June 14, 2019,
came to fruition with demos Kevin started in his backyard studio, with Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin
providing some of the horn arrangements.
The conceptualization of “Fog & Bling” derived from discussions between Russell and beloved
Austin Bassist and producer George Reiff when the two conceptualized taking Russell’s home
recordings and building on top of them to see what would come of it. After Reiff’s passing in
2017, Russell worked with David Boyle of Church House Recording Studios to piece together
the various recordings and compile them into an album.
When asked to describe the new record, Russell responded in his true, eccentric fashion, “Time
capsule opened in the presence of poets leading clergy to a field of wine drunk hippies parading
half-nude behind a cattle drive. It’s multiple radios lost in time crossing signal paths. It’s stained
pages of books with dead flowers and moths pressed between its pages. It’s grackle’s feathers
festooning the hats of dancers sliding slowly across a wooden dance floor. It’s all that and more
than I can even begin to conjure.”
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, Hüsker Dü 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,” Russell 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 donut taco.”
The past flows through Russell’s aesthetic sensibility to become something, well, Shiny and
“On a more linear line I hear it as a move towards the never-ending goal of merging great songs
with great performances,” says Russell. “In the world of music, there are great songs and great
performances. Rarely do the two meet. But, this is the best we can hope for when it does
happen. These are the colors I am always working with. I use my own Dr. Suess meets James
Joyce personal poetry to give it a structure to live within. These songs are, as I listen back,
deeply personal meditations on my life. From my adolescent, disaffected years of angst, angry
at the world, through my naive 20s into my depressed 30s into my melancholy, longing 40s I
walk with this group of songs gracefully into my 50s a hopefully wiser, gentler, more
understanding man. I feel like I have never been better as a songwriter and singer. I cherish my
gift as a bringer of song
TICKETING & RESERVATION INFO:
Purchasing a General Admission ticket does not guarantee a seat/table and will be STANDING ROOM ONLY.
Additional reservations are not required if a table, booth, or banquette has been purchased via Big Tickets.
Reservations for the Captain’s Room (semi-private dining room) can be reserved for parties of 12-24 guests. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org