Stephens founded the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra
in 1993, after growing gourds, and making some traditional gourd
instruments. Arthur started exploring his musical primal roots
as a teenager, bringing home bamboo and creating simple xylophones
in which he and his friends banged away with delight.
Arthur spent his formative years experimenting with multi-track
recordings and playing guitar in various Richmond,VA bands such
as Barbie and the Beeftones, The Argonauts, Argo Music, Beneficial
Nematodes, Messages from the Black Hole, 11:11, and Power Cave.
He and his friends are still banging away with delight.
Barry Bless first heard the evocative sounds
of the musical bow and the gourd water drums being played, he
was won over and became very interested in joining an all gourd
instrument band. As a long time friend and merriment maker since
teen years, playing together in a gourd band seemed like a wondrous
Barry is an accordion player with the Happy Lucky Combo and was
co-founder of the Ululating Mummies. With these groups, including
RIGO, he has collaborated on compositions, albums and multi-media
projects including live soundtrack performances to silent films.
A little known fact is that Barry has performed on the Mighty
Wurlitzer at the historic Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Va.
Hibben is a percussionist and graphic designer, originally
from Washington DC and Maryland. He grew up playing drums, had
formal percussion training during junior high school, and played
in a few college bands during the early 1980s and 1990's, such
as Scrambled Leggs and later 11:11. He was recruited into the
Gourd Orchestra after performing with Ruckus Watusi, a performance
This summer he's growing a gourd plant with his daughter in hopes
of making a new instrument.
Ramsey has been a long time
musical collaborator on many experimental and pop music projects
since our early teen years. When presented with the 'gourd' project,
John quickly adapted to the primitive gourd instruments.
says he is out to change the world through music and creativity.
In the gourd orchestra, John specializes in playing gourd water
drums and made a gourd flute, as well as administrating the gourd
orchestra’s MySpace page.
In a former life, John undertook formal studies in electronic
music, voice, carillon, accordion, tuba, poetry and ping-pong
(1 credit). Outside of the gourd orchestra, John plays hammered
dulcimer, folk harp, accordion, recorders, percussion and whatever
else he can get his hands on, in the musical duo Hearts of Sound,
with his wife Donna Bain. John is also a universalist Sufi,
with many years experience playing music for the Dances of Universal
Peace, and he edits an annual national dance journal. His
favorite color is
Barnett joined the Gourd Orchestra in 2002, bringing
with him not only his vast musical experience but also his woodworking
skills. Pippin Barnett was a natural when it came to playing gourd
instruments. His years of musical exploration contributed greatly
to our wimsical style of music making.
Pippin created many of the second generation instruments including
a gourd guitar, a hybrid asian - banjo, a talking drum, a snare
drum and a bass drum, among others.
He has participated as co-founder and member of numerous bands
including Happy Lucky Combo, Curlew, The Orthotonics, Nimal, The
Ululating Mummies, Roof and No Safety.
Among the musicians Pippin has performed and toured with are Conrad
Baur, Chris Cochrane, Tom Cora, Fred Frith, Shelly Hirsch, Tim
Hodgekinson, Catherine Jeauniux, Zeena Parkins, Hans Reichel,
Jean-Maurice Rossel, Hahn Rowe, Martin Schutz, David Wienstien,
Shirley Anne Hoffman, Bratko Bibic and Keith Rowe.
He has been recorded on over 40 albums.
Among the venues at which Pippin has performed are, the Kool Jazz
Festival- NYC, New Music America- NYC, Mimi Festival- France,
Zurich Jazz Festival-Switzerland, Sarzana Music Festival-Italy,
Goethe Institute- NYC, Knitting Factory Jazz Festival-Holland
and NYC, Festival for Performance and Experimental Music-Copenhagen,
Tampere Jazz Festival – Finland, The Kitchen-NYC and The
Walker Arts Center-Minneapolis.