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Tom Russell

Americana singer/songwriter Tom Russell was born in Los Angeles in 1950. Raised on the cowboy music of the American West, he grew up to be a talented songwriter, and began issuing albums under his own name in the early '70s. Russell's material, however, was also recorded by such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Guy Clark, and Dave Alvin, to name only a few. While much of Russell's work mined the country tradition, he was also known to flavor his work with Tex-Mex, folk, and the cowboy music of his youth. After an acclaimed career spanning two decades, Russell found another gear with 1999's Man from God Knows Where. A concept album eight years in the making, the LP presented a song cycle inspired not only by America's pioneers, but by Russell's own immigrant ancestors. Borderland, a set inspired by Russell's newfound home in the Juarez border region of Texas, followed in 2001. Modern Art appeared in April 2003 and Hotwalker -- a conceptual work inspired by Russell's encounters with author Charles Bukowski -- followed in 2005. A year later, Russell released Love and Fear, an album focusing on what he called "the ragged outback of love." Wounded Heart of America, a compilation of Russell classics performed by everyone from Johnny Cash and Iris DeMent to Russell himself, arrived in 2007. In 2009, he re-emerged on Shout Factory with Blood and Candle Smoke, recorded at Tucson's Wave Audio with owner Craig Schumacher co-producing. Players included songwriter Gretchen Peters on backing and duet vocals, and members of Calexico, among others. Following the critical and commercial success of Blood and Candle Smoke, Russell toured relentlessly. Included in his road escapades was another train tour, with songwriters Dave Alvin, Steve Young, and Thad Beckman. Russell went to work on another album in 2010; he recorded in studios in Texas, Los Angeles, Tucson, and Nashville with co-producer Barry Walsh. The end result, Mesabi, once more included appearances by Calexico, as well as Van Dyke Parks, Viktor Krauss, Will Kimbrough, and Gretchen Peters. The album was advanced by a pre-release download single; a striking cover of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," featuring Lucinda Williams and Calexico. The album's final cut, "Road to Nowhere," was used as the title cut for director Monte Hellman's film of the same name. Mesabi was released on September 6, 2011.

Russell spent the next couple of years painting and touring -- often on trains with other artists including Peter Case and Dave Alvin. His next offering was the iconoclastic Aztec Jazz in 2013 with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble. It was followed by the unprecedented Rose of Roscrae; "the first frontier musical written in the West, by a westerner." The set included 25 new songs and traditional numbers performed not only by Russell but an extended cast that included Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, John Trudell, Gretchen Peters, Tex Ritter, and a dozen more. It was released in April of 2015. ~ Johnny Loftus & Thom Jurek
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Please include the albums Tom recorded with Patricia Harden, some of his earliest work. He is a writer for the ages; and a masterful performer.
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ttomtarr
Tom Russell has to be our finest living, producing song writer.
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I'm in LOVE with Everything about Tom Russell ✨
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Another one of my favorites and one of the best song writers in the business. He ranks up there with Leonard Cohan and Chris Kristofferso n . I love this guy, especially his work with Gretchen Peters.
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Seems to me he is under appreciated! He is in the vein of Dylan cash Townes and all other greats
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Saw him in St. Louis last week. Great mix of songs. Played a couple of new ones. Sounded great!
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russell takes me back to memories of arizona,the southwest,me x i c o , t h e desert that i love! amen!
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Love his songwriting skills / music. Still miss Andrew Hardin and Tom playing together.
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kbandydesign
He was in Sisters Oregon last night, so good! Also, Thad Beckman is a fantastic guitarist! Can play anything.
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best
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cowboy4576
Challenge Butter Rules!
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cowboy4576
Where's the rest of Tom's discography?
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cowboy4576
Amen-Dr. Joe !
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Great song writer!
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dr.joe.mitch e l l
Tom Russell is one of the best song writers I have heard. I especially like his music because he writes about real life, pain, and joy, not about lovey-dovey stuff. He is like Iris Dement and others who write from their souls and make statements. His music is timeless. I salute him and his music.
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Best story song writer since Dylan.
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Tom Russell is my favorite songwriter. I could listen to him all day, every day.
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marenkay
Tom is wonderful. Great entertainer and gifted songwriter. We've seen him live many times and have many of his albums. He's also very approachable and nice to talk to. Stays back after shows most of the time to sign CD's and talk to fans.
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Tom's new album is the best yet...which says alot!
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We've seen Tom Russell live several times and really appreciate his writing and delivery. Without the Navajo Rug/Ian Tyson connection we may have missed out!
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mark.cook
really enjoy the "Pugalist is 59"....I'll check out ore of his tracks.
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feltzt
excellent
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We see him every time he hits Portland -he is AWESOME -great story teller
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three dog day say Tom Russell is great "new find" for me super job by Pandora to morf from Ian Tyson Station to send me "Blue Wing" muy bueno TR.
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Any song by Tom Russell is OK with me,he sure is a talented guy both as a writer and singer,got some great songs,sure like the songs "Blue Wing"and his "Spanish Burgundy"thi s guy is really good,one of my favorites..
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sounds like a young Ian Tyson

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