August 1, 2011

Concerts #214, 278, 487 - Tom Russell at the Neighborhood Church and McCabe's Guitar Shop (November 20, 1999 - November 29, 2008)

My love affair with Tom Russell's music started in 1995, when I bought from Rockaway Records in Los Angeles a compilation CD titled "Philo So Far - The 20th Anniversary Folk Sampler". After a few listens, I lost interest in this rather bland CD, but there was one song that really hit me hard - Tom Russell's "Box Of Visions". At that time, I had no clue who Tom Russell was, nor did I know any other song of his.

Fast forward four years to 1999 and "Box Of Visions" was still the only Tom Russell song I knew. But something made me grab my better half and drive 35 miles to see Tom at Pasadena's Neighborhood Church and I'm so glad I did. The concert was part of the appropriately named "Acoustic Music Series", produced by the late Ron Stockfleth, a folk music lover who single-handedly ran a successful series of concerts that sadly ended with Ron's untimely passing.

Tom took the stage accompanied by guitarist Andrew Hardin, who dazzled everyone with his fast, powerful and precise picking. But it was Tom's songs and delivery that took center stage. His songs were pure Americana, and although new to me, they were instantly accessible and likeable.

Andrew Hardin

Twelve years after the show, I can tell with certainty that Katy Moffat, a singer of some renown, made an appearance that night, but did she open the show with a set of her own or was she only Tom's guest for a song or two? That I can't tell. Nor do I remember much about her performance

Katy Moffatt
In September 2002, I caught Tom Russell again, this time at McCabe's in Santa Monica. Once again, Tom was backed up by Andrew Hardin, a stellar guitarist who added an element of virtuosity to Tom's exquisite songwriting and once again, Tom had a guest, who this time happened to be none other than Dave Alvin, his long-time collaborator and personal friend."California Snow" was the best song of the evening.

Dave Alvin
On November 29, 2008, I went to McCabe's for yet another Tom Russell concert. Andrew Hardin was no longer with Tom. Instead, I was introduced for the first time to guitarist Michael Martin, who just like Andrew, complemented Tom very well. Together, they played a perfect concert, complete with love making on Navajo rugs, cockfighting champions, memories of Dave Van Ronk and aging boxers.

No comments:

Post a Comment