San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 22nd, 2008
Gougers to bring heartbroken tales to Cheatham Street

The Gougers are, left to right, John Silva, Cody Foote, Shane Walker and Jamie WilsonBy HAP MANSFIELD
Scene Editor

I have been taking a bird biology class from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the last couple of years. The book is so big (1,000 plus pages) that if I threw it at you, I’d kill you or, at the very least, break something. I am by no means an expert on birds, but I do know that crows are carrion eaters, so when I saw the Gougers logo of a crow standing on a broken heart with blood dripping from his beak, I immediately thought of the crows in that ancient Scottish poem (“The Twa Corbies”) snacking on the corpse of a forgotten lover. I don’t know that this is exactly what the Gougers had in mind, but it certainly jives with the poetry of their own lyrics that tell of heartache, loneliness and despair.

The Gougers are bringing their literate tales to Cheatham Street Warehouse Thursday night at 9 p.m.

The Gougers started out as the Sidehill Gougers, dropping the “sidehill” the way the Tampa Bay Devil Rays dropped the “devil.” Both exclusions have met with success. The Rays are going to the World Series and the Gougers have a release on the top ten of the Americana charts, “A Long Day For The Weathervane.”

The Gougers were formed when Shane Walker (vocals, guitar and harmonica) met up with Jamie Wilson in College Station, where they attended Texas A&M. Wilson has an appealing voice, redolent with shades of Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch. The blend with Walker’s distinctive voice gives an often plaintive quality to the music.

Added to this dynamic duo are the skills of Cody Foote on the electric and upright bass. John Ross Silva, who now plays the drums and percussion, engineered the recording of “Weathervane” (he’s engineered recordings with the Dixie Chicks and Shawn Colvin), then joined the band.

The Gougers are lyric driven and their music is clearly a means for delivering a message, so the music never walks over the words. They are undeniably literate, with references to Joseph Campbell on their website (thegougers.com) and songs like “Riding in a Lincoln Continental with Sylvia Plath.”

But their music can stand without words, and it is clear that these Texas musicians have heard their share of old radio, soaking up many of the ineffable sorrowful qualities of Hank Williams, as well as the alt-country sensibilities of Uncle Tupelo, with leanings more towards the experimental Jay Farrar than Jeff Tweedy. Their music is more than capable of expressing the emotion of the lyrics.

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