“"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
Sam Russell & the Harborrats have been a Seattle institution for 15 years now, displaying their one-of-a-kind “rock n’ roll cabaret” presentation on stage and on record at venues and events through the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Comprised of Sam Russell (vocals & guitar), Ken Nottingham (vocals, bass, bouzouki, keyboards & harmonica) and Aimee Zoe (vocals, drums, percussion & keyboards), the band confidentially showcases their musical diversity and a signature blend of sensuality, intensity, joy & humor to any audience they play for.
The band specializes in performing an extraordinary display of range in material as presented through the eclectic styles of 1960s doo-wop & soul music (Otis Redding, Roy Orbison, The Ronettes), topped-off by the melancholy guitar sonics of Pacific Northwest indie-rock (Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie). Sam’s elastic vocals bridge these styles and eras by effortlessly switching from falsetto soul to low soft-spoken croon and back again at a moment’s notice.
The band has recorded 7 albums of primarily original material with their first album The Katie Sermon (2006), leading them to immediate rotation at highly-respected indie-rock tastemaker 90.3 KEXP. Further albums led to more plays and bigger gigs, as the band has shared stages with Fleet Foxes, Violent Femmes, Mudhoney, Ben Gibbard, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, La Luz, Archie Bronson Outfit, The Fastbacks, Red Elvises, Graham Parker and members of Pearl Jam & Soundgarden and played some of Seattle's most prestigious venues, including Neumos, The Tractor Tavern and Showbox Sodo.
Sam and band have built their expansive repertoire while playing thousands of shows & private events, reinterpreting songs to make listeners hear them first time again! On their latest album Ocean Shores (Expanded Edition), Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” is turned into into a rockabilly rave-up, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” into a Bowie-esque glam banger or Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” into a slinky disco-groove.
Since its release in October 2021, Ocean Shores has enjoyed national and international airplay, including KEXP and KBCS in the band’s base of Seattle. The album focuses on themes of melancholy and regret in the Covid-etra, conveyed via 1950’s era-torch ballads and intimate Leonard Cohen-esque folk-rock and delivered in twang and reverb straight from the Twin Peaks roadhouse.
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"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
"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
"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