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  #1  
Old 02-17-2013, 07:29 PM
kirtley2013 kirtley2013 is offline
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Default Mike Russo, an amazing guitarist who hid away?

i have just discovered this amazing musician and i really like his style, i might try to learn some songs he plays in the videos but he seems to dissappear almost completely, he did these videos, released one album and i cant find any other trace of him anywhere, has anyone else heard of him?

pt 1, 6 string guitar
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=623Sv-8ldIs


pt 2, 12 string guitar
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm64F1qItg4
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Last edited by Kerbie; 12-14-2019 at 03:48 AM. Reason: Embed video
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:50 PM
heni30 heni30 is offline
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Wow. He does have this great energy.

Here's a link to a short thread about him:

http://stefangrossmansguitarworkshop...3#.USGH7Wfy98E

"Mike Russo was known better as an artist than as a musician. It's demeaning to say he was a "sign painter..." I wonder if that was tongue-in-cheek humor on his part. He played the nightclub circuit in Portland for many years, but gave that up in the 1980s. I believe he died at age 95 several years ago...well respected for his work in art circles but largely forgotten as a musician. This was the first I'd heard him play...and what a monster! This was filmed by the Seattle Folkore Society which recorded several notable folk guitar players in the 1960s...all black and white film, but all showing both the fretting and picking hands at different times. "
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:03 PM
Mtn Man Mtn Man is offline
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Never heard of him before now but he's really an amazing player. My guess is he was having trouble making a living as a musician and found a better paying profession. Or he was just tired of life on the road. Happens a lot more than you might think...

Well, I just did a search and found this thread on mudcat.org. Some interesting tidbits including Mike's contact info...
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:12 AM
kirtley2013 kirtley2013 is offline
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thanks for the links
he couldnt have died age 95 because that would mean he would die in 2032!
he really did seem to vanish, shame!, i would have loved to see more of him!
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:01 AM
RAD3 RAD3 is offline
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Love that 12 string video. He's playing a Harmony H1270 how cool is that.

Ray
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Last edited by RAD3; 02-18-2013 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:04 AM
kirtley2013 kirtley2013 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAD3 View Post
Love that 12 string video. He's playing my guitar (Harmony H1270) how cool is that.

Ray
ive been trying to find the make of it!, thanks!, i wonder where i can get one!
i only wish i could play the gallows pole like that!
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:18 AM
AtlJohn AtlJohn is offline
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That was great, thanks for posting. I'd never heard of him but that was eye-opening, especially seeing him work that Harmony 12 over!

I couldn't resist clicking on some of the other FolkSeattle vids, and soon found myself going from Brownie McGhee to John Lee Hooker, to Elizabeth Cotten. I feel kind of sheepish admitting this, but though i've heard of her and of Freight Train, i wasn't aware of how she played the guitar, and seeing their videos of her technique was jaw-dropping and smile-inducing.

Cheers,
-js
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:53 AM
kirtley2013 kirtley2013 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlJohn View Post
That was great, thanks for posting. I'd never heard of him but that was eye-opening, especially seeing him work that Harmony 12 over!

I couldn't resist clicking on some of the other FolkSeattle vids, and soon found myself going from Brownie McGhee to John Lee Hooker, to Elizabeth Cotten. I feel kind of sheepish admitting this, but though i've heard of her and of Freight Train, i wasn't aware of how she played the guitar, and seeing their videos of her technique was jaw-dropping and smile-inducing.

Cheers,
-js
your welcome
ive watched the mike russo video about 5-10 times now trying to figure out the songs, and nothing, i want to do his version of the gallows pole (leadbelly) but its just so fast i dont know where to start!

elizabeth cotten does have a very unique style, she wrote freight train in about 1905 when she was 12, put music down for 40 years to raise her family then picked it back up when she went to work in the seeger household (mike seeger, peggy seeger being part of the family) for 5 years she would secretly play a right handed guitar left handed to learn it.
i taught myself a version of freight train which i tried to get close to the original but im trying to get decent at singing to accompany it!
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:16 PM
jdugan jdugan is offline
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Default Russo and Brentano

Mike Russo and Ron Brentano did a concert together at Reed College in about 1964. I was a student there at the time. With their permission, I did a recording of the concert, which I have now had transferred to CD. I understand that Mike is deceased, and do not have any information about Ron. The recording quality is pretty good. I would be happy to share, but do not feel comfortable doing so without some kind of blessing from whomever the survivors are.

Of historical interest, James Dickey, the author of Deliverance, was poet in residence at Reed that year. I believe the first time he ever heard Dueling Banjos was on that tape. Anyone with information about the families of either of these men can reach me at dugan@ca-lawyer.com.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:22 PM
12fretter 12fretter is offline
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Enjoyed that !! Thanks
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Old 05-13-2016, 10:16 AM
Mdim Mdim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdugan View Post
Of historical interest, James Dickey, the author of Deliverance, was poet in residence at Reed that year. I believe the first time he ever heard Dueling Banjos was on that tape. Anyone with information about the families of either of these men can reach me at dugan@ca-lawyer.com.
On Wikipedia it states that "two young musicians, Ron Brentano and Mike Russo, had originally been signed to play their adaptation for the film, but instead it was performed by the others." Wonder what happened.

Stumbled across his two videos on YouTube and was blown away. Especially by his version of Gallis Pole. I was always mystified how Leadbelly got that sound out of his guitar, and seeing it done I'm still mystified. "everyone wants to hear it, but no one can play it" lol, darn right. What an amazing musician.

So curious what his story is. Really a shame to see any music he recorded be lost. Fans of this music are so lucky to have what little we do.

Is he deceased for sure, anyone know?
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Old 05-13-2016, 11:26 AM
nowgibson nowgibson is offline
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Default Thanks for sharing

What a talent, Portland loves its Blues. This story reminds me of Paul Pena.
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Old 05-13-2016, 11:40 AM
johnnydobbers johnnydobbers is offline
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Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is it just me, or do I sense some Rev Gary Davis influence in his sound and picking style?
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  #14  
Old 12-14-2019, 02:56 AM
ethaniova ethaniova is offline
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Default Mike Russo & Ron Brentano

hello my names ethan im a musician and researcher from ontario canada i do research on older artists and mike russo has gotten my attention recently and i was wondering if anyone out there has any live recordings of mike there willing to share.

or know of archives that carry live performances of him

also i put links to the mike russo stuff i have on my youtube channel

i have a 1963 concert on there with ron brentano and mike on piano and 12 string too

and i have the stuff of ron brentano with mike from the portland historical society cd from awhile back on my channel.

my email is ethan.iova@gmail.com if anyone has any connections on more stuff on mike.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s83e...6V4xQdxMjVpwwb

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A3B...RYqma9Gt3M2F-H

i have the album from 1969 from arhoolie records

and the cd ron brentano put out with the portland historical society

and a 1963 concert at Eagleson Hall
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:25 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is online now
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Never heard of him before but it's fascinating to read about those days. I was curious so searched around and found this via the mudcat link Mtn Man provided (post #3). It's a recording from KRAB (no, really, those are the call letters), a Seattle listener-supported radio station. I didn't keep looking after I found this, there may be more in their archives.

www.krabarchive.com/playlist/1963-04-13.html
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