BIO  |  "It's centered in a blues and jazz ethos, but my music is an inextricably tangled myriad of inspirations."


A guitar-centric alchemist offering a potent mix of swagger, swing and philosophy. An improviser. A vivid lyricist. A vocalist possessing an agile baritone saturated with emotive grit. Songcraft distilled from vinyl album era singer-songwriters and artful rock, then framed in sophisticated jazz-blues. Add then a masterful guitarist - one whom Blues Revue aligned with the "fearlessness" of guitar legend, Jeff Beck - and you’ve got in front of you a captivating tunesmith by the name of Woody Russell. 

A critically acclaimed, award-winning artist, Russell concerns himself with a certain aesthetic: "It's centered in a blues and jazz ethos, but my music is an inextricably tangled myriad of inspirations. Though the lines are blurred, I seem to work best with musical concepts as individual projects. I can't neatly categorize my work, but it is a continual progression and transformation, as is my life experience.

The often remarked upon multitude of colors in his music is the result of Russell's informed passion for seemingly disparate styles and his own musical cross-pollination at work. Blues. Jazz. Folk. Soul. Rock. Whether intimately acoustic, employing looped manipulation of the latest music making technology or via expert craftsmanship using the recording studio as an instrument itself, Russell’s music bears the patina of being lived in and restless, revealing "the sound of a musician who's invested a lifetime in sharpening his playing." 


"We all feel unseen a lot of the time. Each of us is wrestling with what it means to connect, to belong, from cradle to grave. It's messy and confusing." The words of an empathetic listener himself; a seemingly rare practice these days. "As a fellow traveller, I see you, I feel you and, as a songwriter, I write about you. I'm simply aiming for sincerity in my music, in my life, eschewing the small talk. We're all part of this same fabric." Woody admits that there's something wistful, and a certain romanticism, that surfaces in his work. "I sense it in conversation with people all the time. We question how we end up where we are, often derailed." Continuing, he notes that, as a lyricist and composer, he does not shy away from the complexity of our lives in his artistic expression either. "I love challenging music, art you listen to. Whether it is vocal tune or an instrumental, I aim to build my universe from whatever worn threads and scattered shards connect us to each other, to our histories, to places populated with characters by the names of regret, love, isolation and redemption, but also, to that sense of wonder at the center of it all."

His origin story begins  – more or less – as a southwestern Montana boy, the FM dial, a modest record collection and his sister's unwanted classical guitar. Each of those seeds having been planted long before uprooting the country kid to a musician's grind in Seattle clubs during the heyday of Grunge. Following another relocation, his story continues with unrelenting effort based in the eclectic, roots music epicenter of Austin, Texas. It's been a persistent creative pulse, ultimately forging an artist now thousands of gigs in to his career. Woody continues to honor an ever-present spark of "fascination with guitars and songcraft", stoking that original flame while delivering new recordings released on his own CUTS Music Group label. ​


Russell has released a catalogue of diverse recordings, or "variations", as he refers to it. The variations are, by his measure, "something akin to completely different indentities. Admittedly, the details delineating my work, that is, one project separate from another, are a bit hazy." After striking out on his own following the earliest bands of his career, his "solo" recordings begin with the folk and blues infused fare of his debut, As Simple As That (1996). A Thousand One-Eighties (1998) and Time To Go (2001) were two subsequent trio releases while still based in Seattle. After relocating to Austin, Russell followed up with a new band and the Americana leaning, IMA "Album Of The Year" nominated, Salt (2005). His successful blues and soul album, Up Against It (2010), found an audience via blues specific radio programs and wide critical praise in national and international blues press. Though that recording was a notable departure from Woody's previous releases, he considers his first major variation to be the rich instrumental/orchestral/jazz project, Big Sky  (2012, subsequently remastered for a 2023 re-release). Successive albums offered up the funkier pop-jazz and adult-rock hues of Delicious Days (2013) and Carry It Up (2016). A second variation, Russell's self-described "pandemic lockdown project"Still Wilson (2020), highlights trumpeter, John Spears, and offers an ambitious pairing of videos with each of the six singles. 2023 saw the release of a 3-song EP project recorded between late 2020 through mid-'21, This Is Son Solitaire (2023), which has also garnered very high marks from reviewers. Son Solitaire is another of Russell's variations that he considers an “individual artistic identity” presenting an intricate art-rock/post-punk sound, of which The Hollywood Digest said, “…aspires to more than mere entertainment.” A final entry in 2023 was the limited edition compilation, Essentials, featuring curated tracks off every release between Salt and Big Sky - Remastered Edition albums. Russell is also currently recording new music for another release for 2024. 

From his early career in Seattle during the Grunge explosion to now calling Austin his home, he is a self-described "working class musician", performing 200+ dates a year at all manner of venues and major stages; from house concerts to the prestigious Newport Folk Festival. He's been a prominently featured artist on the CW Network's docu-reality show, "Troubadour, TX", a Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster Artist and a 2019 Austin Music Awards Poll Top Ten Songwriter.

"My work is not based on reasons that would garner the widest possible audience. But, I crossed that river long ago. I am, admittedly, haunted by a mysterious magic we call music. I have to trust in the ten-thousand hour rule and in my own compass when it comes to my art." 

I appreciate artists, in any field, who are willing to push their audience... artists who engage the mind every bit as much as the body, specific to music, and Woody Russell’s work meets that goal. Serious music fans will come away from hearing this EP invigorated, if not inspired.” - Trace Whittaker

Pop Icon Magazine

"Russell's guitar work is exemplary and his vocals alternate between fiery and soulful… a strong composer with a unique perspective on the blues."   - Blues Bytes