Although the soundtrack to Mike Woolf's documentary Growin' a Beard is not an essential dynamic in the Gourds' musical canon, it is a nice addition and a wonderful insight as to how well the bandmembers work effortlessly together. Woolf's documentary immortalized the annual beard-growing contest that takes place in Shamrock, TX, where contestants grow Donegal beards -- the style of which is sans mustache; e.g., Abraham Lincoln's style -- between January 1 and St. Patrick's Day. His decision to secure the Gourds for the soundtrack is a brilliant one, if not only because the Gourds fit entirely into his vision of humor without novelty, but also because the Gourds' bassist, Jimmy Smith, has often sported a Donegal during the band's tenure, tying the film and group together quite nicely. According to the liner notes written by Woolf, the songs here were arranged and recorded in one evening over a 12-pack of Guinness and a quart of Maker's Mark. Surprisingly, the performances are elegant and confident, yet raw and unpolished, which gives the impression that the group members are so comfortable with each other that there is nothing they couldn't accomplish. A clear window into the group's personality is provided by this graceful looseness, coupled with Woolf's insistence that the recordings are sequenced as they were laid down (no sequencing, no editing). The commentary and vocal improvisations that pepper the sessions highlight the wit that has made the Gourds such an anomaly in rock, keeping Growin' a Beard a poor place for the uninitiated to start, but an excellent addition to the Gourds' catalog for die-hard fans.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh
Track Listing - Disc 1