Songwriter Shel Silverstein and the band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show may have thought that the goal was to get on “The Cover of the Rolling Stone,” but local band Folk Spirits, consisting of members Ross Shourds, Bill Phillips, and John O’Donnell, know that the true prize is getting on “The Cover of the Mountain Home.”
Shourds wrote the upbeat parody song, “Cover of the Mountain Home.” The popular local trio has been performing it at restaurants, taverns, and wherever folks listen to music for about three years—most recently at the Lambs Creek Food & Spirits restaurant in Mansfield.
“We’re all local, and we’ve seen people we know on the cover of the magazine,” Shourds said. “We’ve probably played more shows than any other local band.” So he figured “maybe we would have a shot” at getting on the cover. “That talking just sparked the idea for the song. People really dig it.”
Because Folk Spirits is so popular around these parts, people started asking the band members, why haven’t they been on the cover yet?
So this magazine’s editors finally decided to do it. (See the special cover above). The Folk Spirits write their own stuff and cover a lot of others—like Simon & Garfunkel. It was time for Mountain Home to cover them.
And you can be sure that, just like the lyrics say, the trio will each want to “give five copies to their mother.”
Just in time, as it happens. Like many another well-known group, the folk/rock trio is breaking up, at least for a while.
Friends, family, and fans gathered at Lambs Creek to hear Folk Spirit’s last show before O’Donnell and Phillips become snowbirds for the winter, after which Phillips will continue onward to travel the country during his retirement.
“The band has played many venues—bluegrass and folk festivals, county fairs, private parties, and the growers markets,” Shourds said. “It will be bittersweet for us to not play together anymore. We’ve had some great times. I hope the band will come back around, but time will tell.”
But fear not, though, because each of the band members plays music on the side as well as in Folk Spirits. O’Donnell will still be seen around playing bass, as he is also a member of the Cherry Flats Ridge Pluckers, another popular local band.
“Getting into Folk Spirits was a matter of opportunity,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t hear too well. Fortunately I can still hear music—that’s pretty plain for me. They took a chance on me. They needed a bass player, and I was just about the only bass player in these parts at that time,” he chuckled.
In a few days, singer and guitar player Phillips plans on heading to Florida to spend the winter there. Come April, he says, “Who knows?” There is a lot of the United States that he hasn’t seen. Maybe he’ll make it to Oregon. Phillips used to do a lot of solo work before joining Folk Spirits, so while he’s traveling, he is not concerned with losing his connection with music.
“I will miss the camaraderie, though,” Phillips said. “What attracted me was that Ross and I are quite different in how we construct our songs, but we come from the same place.”
The last performance consisted of songs written by both Phillips and Shourds, songs written by friends, and some popular favorites, such as “Mrs. Robinson,” by Simon & Garfunkel.
The songs evoked a simpler time, with local titles like “Gone Fishing,” by Ross Shourds, “Pennsylvania Morning,” by Rick Dale, and “Cedar Run,” by Tom Hoover.
Even the heartbreak songs were funny and had people clapping their hands and snapping their fingers, with lyrics like “She’s colder than Alaska in her heart,” another Ross Shourds tune.
The crowd was really going, though, when the trio sang the upbeat “Cover of the Mountain Home.”