Saturday, February 11, 2012

Border Troubadour Tom Russell books El Paso, his adopted hometown

I was this close to the performers; but--alas--my camera chose this night to break.
Tom Russell, the border's musical ambassador, will perform in his adopted hometown of El Paso on April 21 at the Scottish Rite Theater. Although Russell is a veteran performer with decades to his credit, I only first became aware of and interested in Russell a handful of years ago, attracted by his border-themed music. This fall, after hearing him perform in Iowa on his Mesabi tour, I transformed into a raging Russell super-fan.

There are several connections. We both:

  • have Iowa roots (Russell's father hailed from New Hampton before he migrated to California.)
  • adoped El Paso as a second home. (California-bred Russell and his Swiss wife live in the Upper Valley, when not performing or in Europe).
  • are roughly the same age.
  • are in love with the border --its ambiance and culture.
  • feel connection to Minnesota. Mesabi, Russell's latest album (and a great one!) is named for the state's Iron Range, the birthplace region of Bob Dylan. [Listen to Mesabi and purchase it online.]

And we know some El Pasoans in common, I've come to find out. It's not that large a city.

Left: Thad Beckman, Right: Russell
Not only is he a great songwriter, singer and musician and artist, he's a quintessential performer. "Nobody walks out of my concerts," he casually remarked early that October 2 evening in Fairfield, Iowa. In truth: by the end he had the audience eating out of his hand--and singing along with him, full-throated.

At "Goodnight, Juarez" I choked back tears. Don't miss "And God Created Border Towns" which captures the tragedy of the border drug war.
Stories shared from his wide-ranging life held us rapt.

Russell cycles through David Letterman's New York show regularly. He performs in Europe widely. But not so much on the border: it's been years since he's played El Paso.

Advance tickets for his 7 p.m. show are now on sale for $22 at All That Music & Video and at the theater. Entrance day of the show is $25.

As fate has it, I likely will not be in town April 21; I must return to my Iowa life. So I'll miss this Tom Russell concert. I hope you won't.

Tom Russell and Thad Beckman perform the title track from Masabi on this BBC clip.


Zach said...

Tom Russell is a true icon. The price is right for his show. Wish I could be there.

One Fly said...

Good post Billie!