Sam Russell is a Seattle-based singer-songwriter who whips up hearty fixin's of garage-rock, soul music, and folk with a side of shimmering bubblegum and synth-pop glaze, helped along by his collective of collaborators The Harborrats and his live band The Teen Soul Explosion.
Sam was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin as the son of a small-church minister. Growing up in a Christian household, he was only allowed to listen to oldies radio. Thus, his tastes were shaped at an early age by garage-rock bands (? & the Mysterians, Bobby Fuller Five), girl-group pop (The Shirelles, Phil Spector), British Invasion (The Animals, The Dave Clark Five), Motown (The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson), folk-rock (Bob Dylan, The Byrds), country (George Jones, Charlie Rich, Johnny Cash) and soul music (Otis Redding, James Carr) as well as uncategorizable singers like Del Shannon, Dusty Springfield and Roy Orbison. His early listening habits expanded to gravitate towards bands and singer/songwriters directly influenced by the music of the 1960's such as Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Leonard Cohen, The Ramones, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Iris DeMent and Tom Waits and more modern bands such as Wilco, The Magnetic Fields, and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Sam has spent the last 9 years in Seattle, WA at work on The Blue Moon Bible, an 8-album rock n' roll adaptation of the Greek epic poem ) The Odyssey by Homer, with heavy guidance from James Joyce’s Ulysses (itself a loose adaptation of The Odyssey). Sam and his collective of musicians known as The Harborrats utilize these various styles of 1950's and 60's rock n' roll, soul and folk music to update the story of a soldier traveling back home from war. into a more modern and personal setting. Six of eight albums have been released of The Blue Moon Bible, starting with 2006’s The Katie Sermon through 2012’s The Year of the Cow with 8 songs each containing overlapping references to recurring people, events and emotional threads. Eight other singers portray the different guises of the goddess Athena from The Odyssey, including Seattle-based singer/songwriters Allison Tulloss (of Screens), Kate Noson, James Apollo, Nathan Wade, Scott Andrew and Shelby Earl. To find out more about the epic, ambitious and crazy The Blue Moon Bible project, go here.
Sam is backed in his live shows by The Teen Soul Explosion, made up of Allison Tulloss on keys/vocals, Ken Nottingham on bass and Aimee Zoe on drums. These full-band shows are take-no-prisoners, everyone-left-on-the-floor-exhausted extravaganzas and have had Sam compared to The White Stripes, and James Brown while his intimate, stripped-down solo shows have wrought comparisons to Neil Young, Ryan Adams and Mark Kozelek.. All the The Blue Moon Bible albums have received local airplay in Seattle from 107.7 The End and 90.3 KEXP with 2006's The Katie Sermon and 2012's The Water Balloon added to heavy rotation on KEXP, which led to an in-studio performance by the band.
Sam recently released Selections From The Blue Moon Bible, which compiles tracks from the first six albums of his project to relate the story thus far. He will be releasing the final two volumes of the project over the course of 2014 and 2015. His latest release is a contribution to the quarterly Ball of Wax compilation with a song called "The Arena."