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Tom Russell is an American singer-songwriter who was born in Los Angeles. He has lived in many places, including Vancouver and New York City, and is currently based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His music incorporates elements of folk, traditional country & western, border and cowboy music of the American West. Russell's songs have been recorded by artists such as Johnny Cash, Ian Tyson, Nanci Griffith, Dave Alvin and others. In addition to his music, he is also an artist and published author.
Tom lived and performed right here in Vancouver in the 1970s. “I started my career on East Hastings Street, playing eight hours a night at The Gulf Club. This was the original skid row, a term which originated in the Pacific Northwest, because the sidewalks were wood and slippery, especially when you were drunk on cheap wine. The cops told me there was a felony committed in the club every ten minutes. This is where I learned the song trade and how to front a band in danger zones.”
Read an interesting interview with Tom here ...www.planetslade.com/tom-russell.html.
In the 1980s Russell made four albums credited to the Tom Russell Band. These featured guitarist Andrew Hardin and accordionist Fats Kaplin.
In the 1990s Russell made a number of solo albums and collaborated with blues singer Barrence Whitfield on two recordings. His albums include several guest appearances from other folk, country, and Americana artists, such as Chris Gaffney and Dave Alvin. His song Outbound Plane, co-written with Nanci Griffith, became a top-ten country hit for Suzy Bogguss. However, his most significant album of the 1990s was the innovative 1999 folk opera, The Man From God Knows Where, a song cycle tracing the journeys of Russell's ancestors from Europe to America, and the struggles they encountered.
Russell's albums in the 21st century have been heavily influenced by the art, culture, history, and folklore of the American Southwest. Albums such as Borderland resonate with a strong and authentic Tex-Mex influence, reflecting life on both sides of the border. His songs Tonight We Ride and Navajo Rug (co-written with Ian Tyson) were chosen by members of the Western Writers of America as two of the top 100 Western songs of all time.
In April 2015 Russell released The Rose of Roscrae, a double-album on Frontera Records, a Western folk opera that completes the trilogy begun with The Man From God Knows Where and Hotwalker. The double album depicts the journey of an Irishman named Johnny Dutton who sails to America to become a cowboy. There are 52 tracks interspersed with historic and contemporary voices that include: Johnny Cash, Walt Whitman, John Trudell, Lead Belly, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Tex Ritter, Eliza Gilkyson, Augie Meyers, Maura O'Connell, Jimmy LaFave, David Olney, and others, as well as an overture by Mats Halling and The Norwegian Wind Ensemble. The Rose of Roscrae was hailed as the top folk album of 2015 in many publications, including The Irish Times, Mojo Magazine, Uncut Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times.
Tom Russell released Folk Hotel in September 2017. It showcases 13 new Russell originals plus, as one of two bonus tracks, Bob Dylan's Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, a duet with Joe Ely, featuring Joel Guzman on Tex-Mex accordion. Augie Meyers and Eliza Gilkyson also make guest appearances on the album. A signature Tom Russell collection, the wide-ranging subject matter on Folk Hotel includes songs and stories about New York’s Chelsea Hotel, a journey up the road from El Paso to Santa Fe, a cowboy song about Ian Tyson refusing to "leave his old horses", a song for Dylan Thomas - melting into a James Joycean landscape about day in the life of Belfast, a song about Tom meeting JFK and a song using only 16th century slang.
Folk Hotel was followed by the acclaimed tribute to Ian & Sylvia on True North Records, Play One More, also released in 2017.
Tom Russell’s latest recording of original compositions, October in the Railroad Earth, was released on CD and vinyl on March 15, 2019, on Frontera Records in North America and Proper Records for the rest of the world. He describes the songs and sound as “Jack Kerouac meets Johnny Cash in Bakersfield.” Bill Kirchen is featured on lead electric guitar, Eliza Gilkyson adds vocals, and the Grammy® Award-winning Texmaniacs appear on 'Isadore Gonzalez', about a Mexican cowboy who died in England during a performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The record contains nine other originals, including the title song from the Irish film Small Engine Repair, and a cover of the traditional 'Wreck of the Old 97'.
Tom has appeared at The Rogue on eighteen previous occasions.
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