"Let your faith –the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of that music which has yet to be heard– guide you. For Sam Russell is the light."
Sean Jewell, American Standard Time
Sean Jewell, American Standard Time
To Sam Russell, rock n’ roll is a religion. With his backing band The Harborrats, he performs songs from and inspired by the 1950's and 60's in styles ranging from garage-rock to doo-wop, rockabilly to soul and Motown to Beatles. Over the last decade, Sam has converted audiences across his homebase of the Pacific Northwet and beyond.
Sam was born the son of a preacher man in Kenosha, WI. As a kid, Sam listened to oldies radio and learned how to use the wide variety of early rock n' roll styles to tell a story in song. From the dense wordplay of Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan to the elegant simplcity of Buddy Holly and the greatest soul singer of them all, Otis Redding, these songs became the sacred texts to shape Sam's music.
Upon moving to Seattle, Sam began to play and record with a rotating pool of fellow true-believers drawn from the local community and christened The Harborrats. Between 2006 and 2012, Sam recorded six albums for his Blue Moon Bible project, a series of releases using doo-wop, rockabilly, folk & soul-sytlings to tell stories with overlapping lyrical themes and poetic connections. The Blue Moon Bible albums were released in the Pacific Northwest to local critical acclaim and continual support from 90.3 KEXP and local press.
Sam’s live shows became legendary for their intensity and unpredictability. Because of Sam large reservoir of accompanists and even larger repertoire of original songs and covers, no two shows are guaranteed to be the same. Sam most frequently employs his core backing band of Allison Tulloss on keyboards and vocals, Ken Nottingham on bass & Aimee Zoe on drums. Other frequent collaborators include Michael Spaly on fiddle, guitar, mandolin & vocals, Bart Cameron on guitar, Casey Ruff on vocals & guitar, Kate Noson on vocals, and Dave Forrester on drums.
Sam has spent the last 4 years writing and recording the songs for the last album of his Blue Moon Bible project, schedules for release in late 2017. The first single from these sessions, “Born to Hurt” paired with a stark cover of Eric Carmen's "Make Me Lose Control" was released in November.
"more a garage-soul band more than anything, but they work in lots of other stuff. (Sam) has loads of stage presence and a strong voice"
Don Slack, KEXP 90.3, Seattle
"Russell is a real rarity in any music scene: a genuine, captivating performer who’s part preacher, part timeless rock and roller who always seems to generate genuine electricity on stage....He’s a refreshing original in this town who’s, somehow, already a star – the rest of us just haven’t figured it out yet."
Jon Rooney, Nada Mucho
"It's easy to be icked out by the term "blue-eyed soul". It conjures images of middle-aged white dudes raping the soul of Sam Cooke and it's been applied to everyone from yacht-rocker Michael McDonald to the Off the Wall stylings of Justin Timberlake. But in the case of Sam Russell's Harborrats, whose past EP's have run the rootsy gamut between the Killer and the Boss, the term is apt."
Ma'chell Duma, Seattle Weekly
"Sam Russell is a performer an audience loves, and just about every musician is loath to follow."
Bart Cameron, Ball of Wax Quarterly
"the doo-wopping local boys in Sam Russell & the Harborrats defy rockabilly cliché and show promise with their unaffected take on blue-eyed soul and rock..."
Hannah Levin, The Stranger
"(Sam's) new single is poignant in its restraint and subtlety; the flip, a simple acoustic-guitar-strummed, perfectly harmonized duet with Kate Noson, is even lovelier."
Erin K. Thompson, Seattle Weekly
"a Midwestern bizarro version of Springsteen’s Asbury Park circa “The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.”......Like so many artists you gravitate toward, the river runs deep in Russell"
Paddy FIneran, Kenosha News
"...gorgeous and haunting, the optimal soundtrack for a dark, rainy night when the chips are down."
Mike Seely, Seattle Weekly
"As a vocalist he can deliver folk songs, soul songs and rockers....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."
When You Motor Away....blog