Monday, March 19, 2012

Sam Russell and the Harborrats

Before I began blogging about music, I had a collection of discs that I would take in my car. One of them was a mix of various songs by a Seattle group called The Harborrats. I didn't know much about them except that they were led by a fellow Wisconsonite, Sam Russell, and their live shows often featured waffles, toasted on the spot and tossed into the crowd. I ran across my Harborrats collection this weekend, so I resolved to see what, if anything, Sam and the gang have going on. Go ahead, click on the play button for "Dive Bar Blues (Crossing Russell Road)" by Sam Russell and the Harborrats, and keep reading:

Good stuff, right? But a good song released last December is just a small part of the story. Kenosha, Wisconsin native Sam Russell, frequently with The Harborrats and other worthy contributors, has been engaged in the Blue Moon Bible project, an intended eight albums with eight songs each. Four EPs are finished to date. The style of the music is somewhat eclectic, but can best be described as garage soul or Americana soul. But each song highlights Sam's range. As a vocalist he can deliver folk songs, soul songs and rockers, and he can do it from baritone to mid tenor. As a songwriter, he seems to have no genre boundaries, and has the ability to write songs that sound like classics from the first listen.

Sam also has a solo album, The Year of the Cow (well, I told you he is from Wisconsin), coming out on June 5, 2012. The two-track single "I Am the Ghost" has been released, and you can stream it here:

Despite the upcoming solo album, however, I can't avoid giving a bit of press to the Harborrats' material here as well, because I think it is really good and criminally underexposed. You can get to all of it from the links below, but I'll highlight a favorite song (or more) from each of the Blue Moon Bible series.
Volume A was also called The Katie Sermon. Here is the rousing eighth track, "Mt. Prospect":

Volume B, also called The Youngest Sister, featured these four songs that I have on my car mix:

Volume C, Salted Caramel Shake features this great track:

Volume D, The Sugar Nile, includes these Rocksteady74 favorites:

By the way, The Harborrats and other contributing musicians on the recent releases are as follows:

For the "I Am The Ghost" single:
Sam Russell-vocals, guitar
Kate Noson-vocals
Michael Spaly-fiddle
Ken Nottingham-upright bass

For the "Dive Bar Blues" single:
Sam Russell-lead vocals, electric guitar
James Apollo-2nd vocal, harmonica, Nord keyboard
Michael Spaly-electric violin, backing vocal
Allison Tulloss-ooo's and ahh's
Kjell Anderson-fiddle, backing vocal
Toby Hanson-accordion
Carey Rayburn-trumpet
Ken Nottingham-upright bass, backing vocal
Schuyler Jones-electric bass, backing vocal
Dave Forrester-drums, backing vocal
Isaac Chirino-percussion

For The Sugar Nile EP:
Sam Russell—vocals, guitars
Michael Spaly—vocals, guitar, violin, mandolin
Allison Tulloss—vocals
James Apollo—vocals, keyboards
Schuyler Jones—electric bass
Ken Nottingham—upright bass
Dave Forrester—drums and percussion
Isaac Chirino—drums and percussion
Kjell Anderson—violin
Toby Hanson—accordion
Carey Rayburn—trumpet
Justin Roeser—guitar on 3
Scott Andrew—vocal on 6
Johnny Sangster—Hammond B3 on 2
Kate Noson—backwards vocals on 2


The Harborrats website

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