Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Gourds writer-singer Kevin Russell began his career in Shreveport in the Picket Line Coyotes

Picket Line Coyotes
Originally uploaded by trudeau.

Austin City Limits brought its viewers Los Lonely Boys and the Gourds in its Dec 23 edition. Sadly, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, which airs ACL most of the year, substituted songs of the season. Bleh.

LPB probably didn't know that Gourds singer-writer-founder Kevin Russell began his musical career in Shreveport. Here he had a band called the Picket Line Coyotes.

Founded in 1985 when drummer David M Green and Russel were teens working at Johnny's Pizza, Southern Hills, the group worked its way up from gigs at the riverfront Cafe Directoire to the Killer Poodle, an edgy club that sprang up in the building that once housed the Rusty Nail - on King's Hwy.

There I wrote about them for UpState Newsweekly and Phil Martin lionized them in the Shreveport Journal.

The roar of live music emanated from every club door in that era. The Picket Line Coyotes were bashing away - everyone compared them to REM because they had no easy reference for the Coyotes' original rock, remembered David Green - at the Metro Club, under the SportsPage. Their audience grew. The manager at Humpfree's discovered them. He signed them to a long tenure of Wednesday nights in Shreve Square. "That led to even bigger crowds," said Green in a recent interview.

With brash Rob Bernard on lead guitar and Joey Percival on bass, the quartet learned the music business. They played parallel to bands such as "the Native Sons, which was David Hoffpauir, Michael Roberts, Charlie Bush and Mark Roberts," said Green.

In some 18 months they'd been toughened, discovered who they were, and recorded the lp Fashion Dogs (1986). Channel Twelve's Christy Walton was a fan. She filmed a feature on them for KSLA TV.

Ambitious and attracted by the Deep Ellum scene in Dallas, they moved on. The Dallas Observer's Clay McNear anointed the gang as a great loss for Shreveport and gain for Big D.

Eventually they relocated to Austin. It was there, at some 8 years of playing, that Green began to back up considerable Texas performers and that Bernard found new bandmates. Russell founded the Grackles. The Grackles led to the Gourds, a band that tours Europe, plays tony rooms coast-to-coast, has a huge following in Austin and has sold tons of roots-rock records.

David Green and I have recorded an interview of his memories of the mid-80's in Shreveport. We'd like to hear from fans of the Picket Line Coyotes and people who remember the Killer Poodle, a place where I met, among others, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Photos, clippings and/or recordings would be cool. Please write or leave a message at 318-861-6809.


Anonymous said...

I remember when Kevin and Dave first started out. Adam, Brady and I were playing in a band called Mom's Friend at a downtown dive called Cafe Directoire. Kevin and Dave approached us and said they would like to play a bit before us, and we thought that was a swell idea. They called themselves The Bums, and they played acoustics and sang John Cougar Mellencamp covers. Of course, they both went on to much better things, achieving the most success of any Shreveport band from that time period.

With the Coyotes, they added Robert Bernard, who is one of the best rock guitarists I know. Robert can rock a joint like no one's bidness.

Dave later played with Sam Morgan and Tim Miler in The Swiss Navy, among other projects. He also recorded Chevrolet Stegosaurus when we had Brian Blade drumming.

Ah, those were the days.

Robert E Trudeau said...

Thanks, Kevan. In fact, Mom's Friend at Cafe Directoire is part of the David Green podcast. Got any recordings?

David wrote me, "I read Kevan Smith's comment - that all seems like yesterday to me. One day I plan to write this all down...I have started several times,
but then get side tracked on the mechanics of it.
I/we appreciate you. Robert."

Amongst the good news in this cultural history project is that Green has saved 3 folders full of clippings, posters, lyrics, etc.

It occurs to me that with your Brian Blade connection, Kevan, that you might write about your bands. Basing a post on the Der Faktion video(s) would be cool.

Anonymous said...

I used to sneak into Enoch's on Centenary when I was 16 and see Pickett Line play. I even bought their Tape, yeah a tape with great songs like "Paint the World" and "Malcolm and Martin". They were one of my first real experiences with local original music and inspired me to start my own band and play. Years later, I'm still playing and still humming those tunes and remember fondly jamming into that small club to hear really good original music.

Anonymous said...

I had a club in Deep Ellum in 1989 and the Picket Line Coyotes played there a couple of times. Electric Jungle. They gave me a tape -- called something like Carpet Van Blues. And I've lost it. Any of their stuff available on CD's? I thought they were great!

Shinyribs said...

Wow, I have come here late. Nice memories here, folks. Shreveport is a special place to me. It is where I learned to do what I do. So many great musicians and thinkers toiled there. I suppose this comment box is too small to hold the river of thoughts conjured at this moment. Thinking fondly of the port city tonight. Those were the days my friend...

Anonymous said...

I miss David Green BIGTIME!
My name is john barrett
I played in lots of Dallas bands
Dave played in my band Twin Freaks and he is my alltime favorite drummer/musician.those were Austin days
I remember the picketlinecoyotes driving through deep ellum-hearing our band reherse at the mitchell building then coming in and playing songs on our instruments so great
we then went to shreveport and played a gig w/ them
was it edward street grocrey?
I'm feeding my 15week old baby w/ one hand and typing w/ the other
dave if you see this call me at 214.370.9253 or
at yer convieniance!
love ya lots!

Anonymous said...

is there a link to the dave green podcast???

Allen Vestal said...

Remember me? Big Al from FAGZ ON X. Been about a year since I have seen Joey the original bass player for the coyotes or talked to Dave on the phone. I used to video chat with Kevin but he no longer has that account. Anyway I am crazycatfguy on youtube these days.

mccreature said...

This is where it all started for so many people. The PLC were all we had and all we needed.

nlynn75 said...

"She fantasizes about running to me in the corner with my hat caved in."

I picked up "We Shall Annex the Sudetenland" on cassette tape at Sooto's Records. Finally wore it out about ten years ago. Recently tracked down another copy... Just as good as I remember it.

Allen Vestal said...

Philip is that you? I owe you a huge apology. Contact me at

Allen Vestal said...

misspelling there.

Harsh Dave said...

Hey, this is Harsh Dave of the Harsh Realities, or, as PLC used to call us "Pretty Boys On Punk." I found my copy of Fashion Dogs today and decided to google PLC--and I found The Gourds. It's cool to see Kev is still writing and performing. I'm going to check iTunes and my local CD store to see if they have any Gourds music. I have rehashed some of my songs from Harsh days and sometimes play them. I especially remember Bernard digging "Oh My God," and when I've performed it (not often anymore though), I have sometimes told the story of how he came running up to me after we debuted it at Edwards Street Grocery and he yelled "that is a great f ----- song, man--it's a f ------ hit!" Best compliment I've ever received about a song I wrote. Catch up with my on Facebook: David Neal Cannon Stevens

jessica anderson-meister said...

ahhhh, the good ole days.........i only wish i still had some of my momentos from those days! the majority got burned up in the stoner house fire. my best bud, jenny, did find a copy of fashion dogs (or was it upholstery van songs?) and sent it to me, plus i have some live tapes of the fire benefit at enoch's, featuring the coyotes, diving einsteins and too many douglasses. i think michael flowers sent me those because i had already moved by the time they put that on. man, i always had so much fun at their gigs.........good times, indeed!