Five Questions with Tom Russell


What are you working on right now?

My new record "Folk Hotel," comes out in a few weeks and we've working on a book of lyrics, folk stories, and art that will be published this week. Now it's back to a music memoir I'm writing for a London agent. Also painting everyday - and I paint a lot of portraits of my favorite folk musicians! Some will be in the book. Then our "world tour" starts in a few weeks at Passim's in Cambridge and rolls across the USA. All dates on

I also had an Ian and Sylvia Tribute of mine come out on True North Records in May and it's done quite well on Folk DJ Radio. So there's much on our plate this year.

What’s surprisingly easy about it?

After forty years in the music biz it's time for me to get down to the essentials and get it right. One man with a guitar…lots of solo gigs I love. Recording now by starting with just a guitar and a mike. And a song I believe in. So it's getting easier to bring a song across. But it took forty years to get there. The road and all the years are worth it. It's getting easier and I'm still writing lots of songs.

What’s frustrating/harder than you thought it would be?

At this point nothing is real frustrating. Flight schedules sometimes. My wife, Nadine, learned the management part of this business very fast, and now plans everything quite well. No more bad hotels. Bad hotels mean bad beds. Bad beds mean bad back. She's fixed all that. Some folks travel mighty hard out there.

What project/album from your back catalog is the most relevant today?

"The Man From God Know's Where" still gets a lot of attention. A concept record about my ancestors coming from Ireland and Norway - Iris Dement and Dave Van Ronk and lots of great folks  are on it. I'd have to mention the song I wrote (10 years ago!) "Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?" is quite relevant again…and I did it on the David Letterman Show years ago…but it's come back into relevance! Songs make their own way.

What’s next?

I'm working slowly on new songs for a country type record. The old country sound I like. Seems I started over this year with my Ian and Sylvia Tribute (They were my biggest influences!) and then my "Folk Hotel" record. So maybe I'll re=examine all my musical directions and go at 'em again and get them right. Also want to finish this memoir about music -meeting The Beatles and Bob Dylan etc. I'm also enjoying doing a lot of solo shows, which enable us to get to places we never get to hit. My future is all rapped up in art and song. I also made my Facebook into a sort of "virtual radio show" called Nova Beat Express, where I features a song and s story everyday and we're up to over 20,000 listeners. It's like the morning paper for some folks.

Get all the news you need about Tom at, and see him in The Shopkeeper, out on DVD and video on August 28th!

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