Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tom Russell's El Paso concert: An inside look courtesy of Ian Atkins

This is big: Tom Russell--arguably America's premiere singer-songwriter--will play his first concert in several years here in El Paso, his adopted hometown, on April 21. Advance word from Tom Russell's media assures fans that this concert:
will feature ALL the El Paso/Juarez songs including: "When Sinatra Played Juarez," "Goodnight Juarez," "El Paso," "Tom Thumb’s Blues" and others….this will be a border adventure with special guests: Ian Atkins and Thad Beckman.
Ian Atkins: on location at Tom's Folk Cafe in El Paso
Ian Atkins, El Pasoan restaurateur, owns Tom's Folk Café in the Kern Place neighborhood. So how is he on the concert bill with Tom Russell? What will he be doing? 

To find out, I stopped in for lunch at Tom's Folk Café and found Ian on his iPad, doing payroll. Nevertheless, he obliged me an impromptu interview--as soon as he finished.

Turns out that the multi-talented Atkins is not only a excellent restaurateur but is also himself a musician and composer.

"There will be an intermission in the concert between Tom's sets when I'll play my original songs," he modestly stated.

His style? It's similar to Russell's own, he told me: "blue collar, folk."

Ticket sales are "pretty good" for Saturday's 7 pm concert, April 21, he says. With 300 seats sold before Tuesday, Atkins thought it was "big for El Paso." Tickets to the event at the El Paso Scottish Rite are available online (with "will call" pick up) or at the door.

Russell's music highlights the US-Mexico border. Cuts from his latest album Mesabi don't shy away from difficult themes, tackling, for instance, the extreme violence in Juarez, Mexico of recent years in "Goodnight, Juarez," one of the upcoming concert's promised offerings.

Atkins originally met Russell through a mutual friend. But he had already been a fan of Russell's music.

An early pioneer of  mobile food vending in El Paso, when Atkins opened his stationary restaurant last summer, he took the theme for Tom's Folk Café at 204 Boston (near UTEP) from Tom Russell himself. The restaurant is full of Russell's original artwork and offers Russell's CDs for sale.


One Fly said...

Have fun and be sure to drink too much.

Billie Greenwood said...

Thanks, One, for your good wishes. At first I thought that I'd be gone and unable to attend the concert, but--as luck would have it--circumstances changed, and I'll be in town. Actually it will be my final night in El Paso for this season, and what a grand finale!