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Shinyribs in Pagosa for Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival

Musician Kevin Russell isn’t much into descriptors.

The Texas-based musician has been part of the music game a long time, first known in this region as a member of the beloved Austin, Texas, institution The Gourds, a rock band that was a melting pot of sounds and genres. Before The Gourds taking an indefinite hiatus in 2013, Russell started recording and performing solo as Shinyribs, and since The Gourds went to the backburner, Shinyribs has been Russell’s main gig, growing from solo act to a large band of roots-rockers.

Shinyribs is one of the many bands on the bill for the Pagosa Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival, which started today (June 10) on Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs. Also on the bill are Sarah Shook and The Disarmers, Greg Schochet and Little America, Town Mountain, Tommy Emmanuel and many more.

If Russell’s Gourds remained undefinable, then Shinyribs may have reeled the obscurity in just a tad; call them a swamp-boogie, horn and pedal steel-driven rock band.

“Yeah! That’s accurate,” Russell said. “It’s rock music in my mind. I don’t like to get into subgenres, that’s a never-ending cat chasing its tail. I can make up my own genres all day, but what’s the point?”

The band has dropped a record just about every two years since 2010, currently putting the wraps on another release. For this forthcoming record, Russell reached out to producer Steve Berlin; he’s been a member of Los Lobos since 1982, and as a producer and session musician, he’s worked with everyone from Faith No More to Leftover Salmon, Deer Tick to John Lee Hooker.

If you go

WHAT: Pagosa Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival, featuring Shinyribs, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Town Mountain, Tony Furtado and more.

WHEN: Friday through Sunday.

WHERE: Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs.

TICKETS: For pricing and to buy tickets, visit https://bit.ly/3Q51MOB.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.ksutpresents.org.

“I like having producers,” Russell said. “It’s an objective voice with some authority in the situation, which helps me and helps any music creator to have an objective person to let you know when it’s maybe not the right path to go down, and to give you some perspective on things.”

That perspective can also come with the risk of in-studio differing of opinions, but it’s all part of a grand plan.

“We’re butting heads right now. The mixes are starting to come in, some of them I don’t like the sound, so I’ll suggest this or that,” he said. “It’s not major arguments or anything, it’s just disagreements and it’s all polite. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree, but I’ll give him the call because he’s the producer, I gave him carte blanche to come in and make the record he wanted to make using me and my songs, so that’s what we’re doing.”

If all goes as planned, said record will drop in 2023; but for now, Shinyribs are looking to tour. At this point in the game, they fill venues throughout Texas and the southern part of the Midwest, while also booking beloved festival dates, as he and the band remain fans of the growing number of festivals popping up in small towns throughout the Centennial State. Those are his favorites.

“I’m not playing Coachella or anything, I don’t know what that’s like. But for me, some of the best festivals are these, like Pagosa, they are some of my favorite things to do in the world,” Russell said. “Every summer, I hammer my agent, ‘get me on some of those little Colorado festivals.’ Those are the best because it’s beautiful weather, beautiful people who love music, it’s always a great party. Any of those, all those little towns that have their little festivals, it’s a beautiful thing, I love that about Colorado. Colorado festivals are certainly some of my favorite festivals, that’s for sure.”

Shinyribs’ set is set to begin at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.