ALL THE LABOR
96 minutes, 2013, HD
Current Movie: Trailer 1

“*** Recommended.” Video Librarian  (read full review)

“There’s a great live version of ‘Goodnight Irene’ by Levon Helm & the RCO All-Stars where they play to a murmuring New Year’s Eve crowd in New York City, 1977. The recording is sharp and the audience’s exhilaration palpable. It feels like everybody’s happy and in love and maybe drunk and probably a little delirious. This is exactly the kind of spirit and depth that makes the live songs on The Gourds’ ALL THE LABOR so magnetic. As the Austin, Texas, band kicks out Southern alt-folk and rock tunes, unbridled woots and whistles from fans fill the lulls.  You feel like you’re there.” Missoula Independent   (read full review)

“ALL THE LABOR does a fine job of capturing the Gourds’ obtuse lyricism, hell-raising live act, and music that is (we’ll refrain from the past tense) equally steeped in the Band’s musicianship, Doug Sahm’s cosmic weirdness, and ’80s punk energy.” Vintage Guitar   (read full review)

“Very few great bands stick it out long enough to get a documentary made about their uniqueness and unmarketability. It takes years of touring, recording, suffering, frustration, and sheer doggedness to be recognized as one of the last bands standing. In the Gourds’ case, about 18 years. Their website once proclaimed them as ‘music for the unwashed and well-read’ and it’s a pretty apt description of the weirdly creative Austin-based roots rock combo who have slow-cooked their way into Lone Star mythology since their 1996 debut. Led by co-singer/songwriters Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith, along with mainstays Claude Bernard, Max Johnston, and Keith Langford, The Gourds have always followed their own star, embracing a distinctly Southern charm that seems like it should shoehorn them neatly into country, Americana, bluegrass, R&B, or any of the other subgenres of American roots music, but never quite does. Their ramshackle obscurity and artful songwriting (which is probably their greatest asset) have always kept them outside of any mainstream circles and left publicists, labels, and many potential fans scratching their heads. Thankfully, documentarian Doug Hawes-Davis recognized what a core group of fans have known for nearly two decades, and preserved the band’s unique story and some of their most inspired performances with his feature film ALL THE LABOR. Filmed during multiple tour dates from 2011 and 2012, the film’s soundtrack captures 18 classic, career-spanning songs from a very well-seasoned group of musicians who display both the tightness of many years together on-stage and the loose camaraderie of just as many years in the van.” All Music

“Terrific.”  Dallas Observer

“The story of a band that has spent considerably more than a decade together and has remained an underground thing. The fame of Nashville or top indie-alt billing is probably never to be theirs, yet they keep on. Fact is, they are too good for some music marketing channels today. There is a wealth of performance footage captured over different times in their history, some insightful narrative by the band members, and an overall look at the nonconformity and talent that make up the band.  Suppose ‘The Band’ started their career in 1999. The music scene is no longer so open that rock and roots and talent can give you the sort of attention The Band got in their heyday. But The Gourds seem unphased. They have multiple songwriters who are very good and keep producing. Their vocal mix is unparalleled. They go from alt rock jamband hardness to yodelling country archaism in one set and they make it all seem like inevitability. They are funny, earthy guys and the love for what they do comes through strongly. It’s a great story and it is told very well indeed. It may make you into a Gourds fan if you aren’t already.”  Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog

“Through interviews, live performances and scraps of footage, this documentary will have your foot tapping and you heart laughing. These fathers, husbands and regular guys have bonded with their instruments and friends, playing music for the love of playing.” Local Sightings Film Festival

“The Gourds may look like stubble-faced auto mechanics or line cooks at a barbeque restaurant, but behind their everyman appearance is nearly 20 years of road-tested experience in the rock n’ roll business.Their story was captured in the documentary ALL THE LABOR, which played at the Top Hat Lounge Sunday, capping off the River City Roots Festival. Doug Hawes-Davis, co-founder of the Missoula-based production outfit High Plains Films and founder of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, directed the film. The Gourds’ magnetic stage presence has gained a sizeable following in Missoula. Before showing the documentary the band performed on the Roots Fest stage to a crowd of shouting, writhing fans. Inside the Top Hat, people continued to sing, cheering and stomping their feet to the documentary’s on-screen performances.” Montana Kaiman   (read full review)

“Like many of their roots-rock peers, The Gourds have maintained a steady course through the choppy waters of the music world for two decades, building an adoring fan base and cult status through their mandolin-led rendition of Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin & Juice.’ On paper, it’s not the most compelling subject matter for a feature-length documentary, but director Doug Hawes-Davis manages to turn this quintet into a dynamic symbol of hard work and friendship. He imbues the collage of live performances and interviews with the same ramshackle, loving spirit as the group’s amalgam of blues, country and folk.”  Willamette Week

“A fun, compelling 96 minutes – a film for both cult fans and neophytes who may only know the band from its cover of ‘Gin & Juice’.” Missoulian   (read full review)

“ALL THE LABOR is about one of the greatest American bands to never quite hit it big (yet). The band’s music is a hard one to define. Frontman Kevin Russell kicks out sweet mandolin ballads and guitar-driven rippers with equal aplomb, and dances like his joints were made of ball bearings. The songs of co-frontman and bass player Jimmy Smith sound as if they were constructed in the lab of a mad scientist—surreal, absurd and strangely compelling. Together, they’re a classically oppositional rock-band nucleus, and ALL THE LABOR explores that dynamic to great effect. But all five band members figure prominently in the film. That balance makes ALL THE LABOR something more than a tour film, though the live performances—both on stage and in rehearsals—are top-shelf by the highest standards of that genre. A healthy dose of archival performances and interviews provide a sense of where the band comes from, and when combined with new interviews and behind-the-scenes footage it tells the intriguing story of a band occupying the odd glow of semi-fame.” Missoula Independent   (read full review)

“SXSW Film Report: 5 Must-See Rock Movies.  The Gourds have been rocking Austin with their rootsy brand of Americana for nearly two decades, but their only sniff at national fame came via an unlikely cover of Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice, which went viral in the days before most of us knew what that meant outside of its medical context. Unfortunately, their Internet hit was generally credited to Phish in those outlaw Napster days, so The Gourds remain a below-the-radar success story. Doug Hawes-Davis’ rockumentary may change that. Following the band on the road and in the studio as they navigate the perilous waters of the modern music business, ALL THE LABOR is a treat for longtime fans, as well as a great introduction to the raucous alt-country jams and surreal folk anthems of the band’s principle creative forces, Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith.” Rocker Magazine

“Great acts don’t always get the credit they deserve.  ALL THE LABOR, the new documentary from High Plains Films, is a testament to exactly that. Breaking the typical music documentary mold of an artist’s quick rise to fame and the destruction that then ensues, ALL THE LABOR presents the audience with the deeper discovery of a band’s genuine relationship with their music. Rather than capitalizing through their music, The Gourds live through their music and the audience won’t be able to leave this film without a sincere respect for that.” concertblogger.com  (read full review)

“The Gourds are an acclaimed Austin group of five distinct individuals, and their hillbilly art rock attracts a curious cult audience. ALL THE LABOR, a documentary that delves music-deep into Austin’s Greatest Band, touches on the key biographical points while understanding that nothing about the members is as interesting as its richly invigorating groove connection. Bassist Smith is the most mysterious member, and his story is artfully told through a quirky vignette that cuts a Keaton-esque run to the convenience store on a bicycle with Smith’s solo acoustic swipe at Stadium Blitzer.  Russell gets the focus behind the acoustic guitar on Web Before You Walk Into It. The tune’s themes of trust, surprise and friendship work well here. The band’s co-frontmen Smith and Russell are competitors as well as collaborators, but the other three members are also essential, the film makes clear. Drummer Keith Langford is the practical one, also serving as chief Gourd herder on the road. Hilarious deadpan keyboardist Claude Bernard is the one who brings the joy, and Max Johnston (fiddle, mandolin) is the self-taught virtuoso who raises the musical conversation. These five are in it together against a music industry that can be quite brutal, especially when the songs are too arcane for Americana and too gritty for jam band status.  Named after a Smith song, ALL THE LABOR is about a functional family of organic musicians.  What sets it apart from other music docs is that they aren’t making bands like the Gourds anymore.”  Austin American-Statesman

“An in-depth look at the band, with archival footage and behind-the-scenes goofiness as well as exploring the camaraderie that allows them to remain one of our town’s longest-running and most-beloved acts.”  Austin Chronicle

“ALL THE LABOR delves into the strange story of a fledgling Austin band that hit the virtual big-time via the file-sharing of a larkish cover song. The film tracks the band over a 10-year period, from an odd appearance on the Austin Fox affiliate in preparation for a 2001 SXSW showcase to the recording of 2011’s Old Mad Joy album and ensuing tour. They’re shown in the film as they come across in person: authentic, and not particularly concerned with the vagaries of fame. Given the fakers and takers Austin has produced over the years, that’s a labor deserving more than a little love.”  Texas Observer   (read full review)

“The Gourds, Austin’s ultimate junkyard-rock band, are the subjects of ALL THE LABOR, a documentary that will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the band when it has its premiere in Austin this spring.” New York Times   (read full review)

“An awesome teaser….with commentary by band members, concert footage, and completely candid and entertaining behind-the-scenes footage that captures the quintet wonderfully.”  Missoula Independent   (read full review)

“The Gourds themselves are the subject of a documentary currently funding through Monday, June 11, on Kickstarter.  Doug Hawes-Davis is the founder of the annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, where he initially met the band in 2001.”  Austin Film Society   (read full review)