Roadworks Tours presents
NO SUPPORT – SHOW 8:30PM
Tom Russell is a master storyteller and Mesabi, his newest release for Shout! Factory, corrals some of the acclaimed singer-songwriter’s most compelling tales to date. A thread runs through its songs, a zigzagging but determinedly solid line that connects the perilous bordertown of Juarez, Mexico to the real and faux glitz of L.A. and the bleak iron range of Minnesota – the Mesabi of the album’s title. The broad landscapes created by Tom Russell for Mesabi are inhabited by characters we all know – Bob Dylan, James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor – and some we may not: the now-obscure, once well-known singer Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards, the tragic Disney child star Jimmy Driscoll and the character actor Sterling Hayden. It’s a logical progression from Russell’s last album, 2009’s Blood and Candle Smoke, yet it’s like no other album Russell has made in his nearly four decades as a recording artist.
Co-produced by Russell and keyboardist Barry Walsh, and recorded in several different studios in Tucson, Texas, Nashville and Los Angeles, Mesabi is the 26th album from an artist whose songs have been recorded by such icons as Johnny Cash, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Jeff Walker, Doug Sahm and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among others. No less than Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the legendary poet, has said that he shares “a great affinity with Tom Russell’s songs, for he is writing out of the wounded heart of America.”
For Mesabi, Russell invited along several prominent friends to assist him in bringing to fruition his newest compositions, among them Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Sir Douglas Quintet keyboardist Augie Meyers and Calexico, the band with which Russell previously collaborated on Blood and Candle Smoke. The result is a collection that may be Russell’s most cinematic and global to date, a work that instantly grips the listener and holds on as its vivid scenarios unfold from tune to tune. The consummate renegade, Tom Russell makes the music he wants to make, without intervention, and he does so without a care for trends and expectations.
“My career seems to have gone in the opposite direction from a lot of people whose notoriety came over their first half dozen records,” says Russell. “Mine didn’t. My career built very slowly, and then I moved to El Paso in ’97, further outside than anybody could imagine. By not plugging into the machine, the records I’ve made in the past 10 years have been my strongest and most outside records, especially the past two. It seems that the older I get, the more I’ve been able to keep on the outside.”
In this day and age it’s become harder and harder to get people, especially young people, to listen to a full album,” says Russell, “and especially one with 15 songs. People now are used to downloading one song at a time. But when somebody does listen, you have a breakthrough. This is a long album, a big album,” he says, “but hopefully the writing carries it through.”
That would be something of an understatement. Songwriting and performance at the level of Mesabi is a rarity today, and when Russell notes that the size of his overall audience has doubled over the past five years, he’s not so much boasting as affirming that there is still a huge hunger for the kind of quality, the kind of thoughtfulness and substance, that he can be counted upon to deliver each time out.
Strictly over 18′s, I.D. may be required.
AFTER THE GIG
Whelan’s Indie DJ in the bar and Sonntags upstairs from 11pm til late.