The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit talks bargain shopping, the 52 Week Club, and bringing the hootenanny to Don Quixote’s
Backstage at a local dive bar, in the small town of Oakdale, Calif., Will Taylor calls his band into a huddle. It’s time for one of Taylor’s pep talks, a locker room-type speech, as if the sextet is about play a ball game instead of a concert. But there’s no need for the inspirational sermon—The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit calls this bar, The Cow Track, home.
Singer Chris Doud describes how the band got its start at the bar: “We would play at least every month, maybe even twice a month. All these people were looking to have a good time, do a little drinking, do a little dancin’. We just became the band for that bar.” With foot stomping fiddles and bar hopping banjo, they’re like a hoe-down and a hootenanny rolled into one. “That’s what our music is all about,” adds Doud, “providing a sound for people to move their feet to.”
Even though Cow Track regulars—and a fan base spreading across the U.S. like brush fire—have no problem moving their hips to The Outfit’s southern twang, the band has trouble defining its sound. Starting off as a tongue-and-cheek country band, the group’s first show was in Riverside years ago, after practicing together for only one week. “We just had so much fun doing it we decided to keep playing as a group,” says Doud.
The Outfit has since accumulated members from a multiplicity of backgrounds, from heavy metal to indie rock. Each member brings their own flavor—Taylor taught himself banjo because it was the only instrument he had, and Matt Cordano switches between pedal steel or dobro or guitar, “’cause he can play all those stupid things,” jokes Doud.
What sets the band apart though, is its chemistry. “There was no conscious effort to create any kind of sound,” says Doud. “Because people played and everybody was contributing what they wanted to, it just came out. We’re happy with it. As long as we’re happy, we stick with it—we’re always stumped on what to call it, though. People are like, ‘Well, what kind of music is it?’ and I’ll say, ‘I don’t know, you just have to come watch it! Make up your own mind.’”
Sometimes described as country, other times folk, The Outfit’s tunes are truly a combination of Taylor and Doud. “Will and I are in this songwriting club, the 52 Week Club,” says Doud. “It lasts for a year, and usually one of the higher-up members contributes a theme for the week. Our first two albums are almost completely 52 Week theme-based songs.” A spur of the moment idea that started at a full moon barbeque with the word ‘mooner,’ the 52 Week Club has been around for almost seven years. Every week, members like Taylor and Doud write songs based on selected themes. With topics ranging from ‘gravy stain,’ to ‘the valley of lost unicorns,’ to ‘Samurai wedding,’ it’s easy to see where The Outfit’s outlandish lyrics come from.
Their inspiration is almost as varying as their onstage garb. Doud explains how, on that fateful night in Riverside, “for some reason we all dressed up in suits.” And the idea stuck. “Will would call me every once in a while, ‘Hey man, I had this really good luck time at the thrift store!’ And then he’d show up at the next show with a new suit. For a while there, every single show we’d play, Will would have a new suit.” So The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit was born, out of bottom pocket dollars and a bit of hanger sleuthing. “We just liked the double-entendre of the word ‘outfit’ that could mean clothing or a group of musicians,” says Doud.
Much like the concept of a consignment store, the band has cycled through two fiddlers, two mandolin players, a drummer, and they even had four singers at one point. “That was the whole thrift store idea, that there was this potpourri of musicians,” says Doud. But, after getting sick of wayward members disappearing to home towns and old bands, The Outfit is now riding steady at six.
And the band can’t wait to head to Santa Cruz Friday. “I think the people over there just kind of remind us of the people we hang out with in our own town,” says Doud. “I’m glad that we’re getting some opportunities to come play.”
INFO: 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 19th, $10. Don Quixote’s, 6275 California Hwy 9, Felton. $10. 21+.