Tom Russell – *genius*

by Chris Bertram on August 7, 2007

I saw “Tom Russell”: last night, for the third time in the last two years, and he was simply marvellous. Funny, crotchety, gritty, and (this hadn’t struck me so much before) with a wonderfully strong and clear voice. He played some new material, together with stuff from recent albums and some of his songs that others have covered on an album he’s reluctant to call a “tribute”: Wounded Heart of America. Like the old stuff, the new featured the usual cast of characters: cowboys, Mexicans, Welsh sailors etc, all superbly observed and changed to suit audience and place. And there were the usual anecdotes about Bukowski, Rambling Jack Elliot, etc., together with some reminiscences I hadn’t heard before (on his experiences in Nigeria during the Biafran war).

(Sometimes when going along to hear an act with others, I feel slightly unsure of their reaction: I like this but maybe they won’t, and I can see why and I might feel the urge to explain or say that X was better last time. No such worries with Russell: if someone doesn’t like him then there’s something wrong with _them_ .)

Russell is on tour in the UK at the moment, and you can catch him in Newcastle tonight, in Edinburgh on Saturday and in London next Monday (along with a bunch of other places in between and afterwards).



Johan Anglemark 08.07.07 at 1:54 pm

Thank you! I had never heard of him before, but after sampling “The Man From God Knows Where” on, I’m sure to download it soon.


michael 08.07.07 at 3:23 pm

Chris, I’d be very interested to learn more of Tom Russell’s experiences in Nigeria during the Biafran war. He was teaching over there at the time, wasn’t he? Did he offer songs as well as anecdotes in this connection?


PL 08.07.07 at 4:51 pm

Russell is quite amazing. Even if you don’t like Country (or “Alt Country”), he’s worth a listen. And his live shows are fantastic — it’s one of the few things I sincerely regret about leaving Austin, TX.


Amanda 08.07.07 at 8:08 pm

I had never heard of him before, but after sampling “The Man From God Knows Where” on, I’m sure to download it soon.

Oh cool. The rapturous review of it on eMusic (NankerPhledge) is me. I’m glad its getting new fans, as its one of my desert island discs.


Chris Bertram 08.07.07 at 8:37 pm

That’s good to know Amanda, now I’ll be able to see what you’ve been downloading!

Michael: he talked about Nigeria a bit, and the experience of being threatened with a gun there, before singing a song about being a criminologist.

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