Russell Gulley Bio
The Muscle Shoals Years
The 1970's were exciting times for a young musical hopeful to be hanging in Muscle Shoals. With the likes of the Stones, Bob Seger, Blackfoot, Skynyrd, and even Bob Dylan coming in and out of town, there was always the chance that some of their magic might just rub off. But..... long before the town was dubbed "The Hit Recording Capitol of the World", there was a group of unpretentious songwriters that gathered there with some magic of their own. Their heartfelt love for anything "southern", from Blues to Rock & Roll to Country and Gospel, gave the Shoals it's "Soul".
In the fall of '73, while on tour as the band leader for Polydor Records'soul singer, Ruby Winters, Russell got the call that Muscle Shoals Sound Publishing was interested in his songs and he quickly agreed to meet with producer and publisher, Jimmy Johnson. Although Winters' new single, "I Will", was #5 in England and expected to climb the charts in the U.S. as well, Gulley had dreams of his own and with the encouragement of Johnson, he made the move. While at Muscle Shoals Sound, he developed as a songwriter and under the wings of producers Johnson and David Hood, he and his brother, Dennis, recorded for Capitol Records, as well as, the MSS label.
With their band, JACKSON HIGHWAY, the brothers toured as the opening act for Ted Nugent, Blackfoot, Triumph, and UFO. As time went by, they found respect among their peers within the music business as "musician's musicians" and proven professionals. Today, their skills are in demand as songwriters, session musicians and singers, producers, and performers.
The Beat Daddys
Russell has worked with such stars as, Ray Peterson (Tell Laura I Love Her), Ronnie Dove (One Kiss For Old Times Sake), Margo Smith (The Tennessee Yodler), Leroy Van Dyke (Walk On BY) and others.
Most recently, he spent some two years criss crossing the country with the Malaco/Waldoxy recording group, The Beat Daddys. The band performed at premier blues clubs, festivals, and casinos, such as Stevie Ray's in Louisville, Bourbon Street Blues Bar in Nashville, Tobacco Road in Miami, and at The Janis Joplin Birthday Bash in Port Arthur, Texas.
One of Russell’s songs, "Miss Dixie", is featured on The Beat Daddys’ latest Malaco release and has been in heavy rotation on Direct TV's Blues Channel, while the CD titled,"Delta Vision", made it to #14 in The Living Blues Magazine’s Cd Charts.
Russell continues to write, record, and perform. Collaboration with former Allman Brothers Band member, Johnny Neel, has resulted in one of his songs being selected as the title track for Neel's solo CD,"Late Nite Breakfast".The Cd also features two other Gulley collaborations. The popular Kansas City band, The Juveniles, has also recorded “Late Nite Breakfast”.
Recording artists continue to discover Russell’s writing abilities. This year, the Chicago blues veteran, Carl Weathersby, the “heir apparent to Albert King”, recorded the Gulley composition, “Nothing Hurts A Man (Like A Woman Can). The song is featured on his comeback CD, “Holdin’ On”. Blueswaxx E-zine, a partner of the Blues Revue Magazine organization, has already nominated the Weathersby CD for CD of the year.
Back to the Swamp
With the release of his first solo CD, “Back to the Swamp”; Russell is revitalizing his recording career after a silence of more than two decades. His last release was in 1981 on MSS / Capitol Records with the Shoals-based Southern rock band, Jackson Highway, and his current one is a return to the roots of the music that has always influenced him most - a funky mix of Americana, blending blues, rock, country and gospel.
Recording “Back to the Swamp” has reunited Russell with two former band mates: his brother, Dennis, and Tommy Patterson. Together with Patterson on harp and Dennis and as producer, “Back to the Swamp” is like a long awaited family reunion. Rounding out the sessions are guest performances by his buddy, Johnny Neel, Chris Anderson of The Outlaws and Blackhawk, Shane Sutton with the Gary Allen Band, and other members of the Straight Up Sound Recording family in Nashville.
All of the songs on the Back to the Swamp CD are either originals or have been chosen for their connection to the Shoals Tradition. Several are autobiographical, such as the title track, "Back to the Swamp", along with an acoustical remake of "Piece of Good Earth", the first single released by Jackson Highway on the MSS label in 1977. One other title, "The Gospel According to the Blues", is an a cappella performance that deals with intercultural influences as experienced by Russell as a young boy on the streets in his hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama. personified in the town's legendary street sweeper, "Uncle Bud". There he saw the Blues.
Russell Gulley - Vocals, Guitar
Dennis Gulley - Bass, Vocal and Acoustic Guitar
Micheal Grando - Percussion & Drums
Chris Anderson - Vocals, Guitar, resonator guitar
Doug "Blind Willy" Jones - Vocals, Guitar, and Harmonica
Jackson Highway...Capitol Records 1980
Jackson Highway....MSS Records 1977
Back to the Swamp CD 2004 ....Russell Gulley
Latenite Breakfast CD 2003.....Johnny Neel
King Mojo All-Stars Vol.3 2006
Gritz Complilation Vol.3...2010
Hard Times: Trucker Tracks Vol.2..2010
The individual members have worked on a wide range of recordings including such artists as The Allman Brothers, The Outlaws, etc.
Russell Gulley at the Moulton Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival
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"Chicken and Egg Festival Friday, 5:30 p.m., Logan Pharmacy Stage Muscle Shoals music historian Terr..."Chicken and Egg Festival Friday, 5:30 p.m., Logan Pharmacy Stage Muscle Shoals music historian Terry Pace once called Russell Gulley a storyteller. It is an identity Gulley likes. “In the old days I wrote trying to write a hit record. Over the years the songs became more about my life, the world or a story I have heard,” said Gulley. In his four-decade music career, Gulley’s sound evolved from blues to gospel to Southern rock to roots.“I call my sound acoustic Muscle Shoals swamp blues,” he said. “As a solo artist, I sounded more and more traditional or roots.” He founded the band, Jackson Highway with his brother Dennis and Tommy Patterson and toured the country opening for Ted Nugent, Blackfoot, Triumph and UFO. After more than 40 years playing gigs and writing songs, Gulley returns to music day after day because he can’t imagine not doing it. “It is not only who I am, it lifts spirits, encourages folks and talks about real situations. It is the fabric of ourse"
- The Decatur Daily (Apr 08, 2012)
Russell Gulley to Perform at Moody Middle School
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"Muscle Shoals music veteran Russell Gulley performs at Moody Middle School as part of the state Cou..."Muscle Shoals music veteran Russell Gulley performs at Moody Middle School as part of the state Council on the Arts School Touring program. The performance was funded by a grant from the Council on the Arts.Moody Middle is one of 46 schools in 27 counties benefiting from the program. Gulley revitalized his recording career with the release of his CD "Back to the Swamp" in 2004. Russell's return to recording focused on the roots of the music that first influenced him. He travels to schools presenting his arts-in-education program called Intro: Folk Music, Blues and Tradition. "The Rural School Touring Program provides performances of music, dance, and theater by Alabama artists for Alabama Children," Al Head, exe.dir. of the council said. "It is the council's hope that this kind of quality exposure to Alabama arts and artists will stimulate more support of arts education in rural schools." "
- The Birmingham News (Mar 21, 2012)
Russell Gulley @ the Zodiac Theatre, Florence,Al.
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Had a great time tonight listening to Alabama singer, songwriter, folklorist, music historian and fo...Had a great time tonight listening to Alabama singer, songwriter, folklorist, music historian and former Jackson Highway recording artist Russell Gulley perform an evening of soul-soothing, down-and-dirty blues during his BACK TO THE SWAMP concert at the Zodiac Theatre here in the heart of Muscle Shoals. Russell was joined by an all-star band made up of his brother Dennis on bass, Chris Anderson of the Outlaws on guitar and the incredible Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers on keyboards, plus special guest appearances by Muscle Shoals musicians Jay Johnson, Maxwell D Russell and Tommy Patterson. From "The Gospel According to the Blues" and "Greenwood, Mississippi" to "Train, Train" and "My Baby Don't Wear No Drawers," it was a power-packed, soul-stirring musical experience. Bravo to all!
Russell Gulley Returning to the Zodiac Theatre
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Russell Gulley returning to Zodiac Theater By Russ Corey Staff Writer Russell Gulley is no stra...Russell Gulley returning to Zodiac Theater
By Russ Corey
Russell Gulley is no stranger to the Shoals.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was a member of Jackson Highway, a raucous southern rock band that was a mainstay at Johnny’s Club just north of the Tennessee- Alabama state line.
The band recorded their first album at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield. When the group disbanded, Gulley went on the road with various artists in the role of a sideman.
Realizing that he didn’t want to spend his life on a bus playing in someone else’s shadow, he returned to his hometown of Fort Payne and got involved in the arts.
On Saturday at Florence’s Zodiac Theater, he’s about to come full circle.
“Even thought I still perform, most people think of me in that avenue,” Gulley said. “A lot of people have never been exposed to Russell Gulley as a performer. That’s why I wanted to do this gig in Muscle Shoals.”
Gulley eyed the Zodiac Theater because of the intimate setting and the theater’s reputation as a venue where people come to actually listen to music.
“Even though Jackson Highway was a bar band, what I’m doing now is not suited for a club,” Gulley said.
He was encouraged by that both Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers and The Civil Wars have played successful intimate shows at the tiny theater, which holds about 150 people.
Much of the music will come from Gulley’s 2004 release “Back to the Swamp.”
He’ll begin the show with some solo acoustic tracks, then bring up the other two members of the Russell Gulley Trio, Johnny Neel, a former member of the Allman Brothers Band, and Chris Anderson, a guitarist with the legendary southern rock band The Outlaws.
Gulley calls “Back to the Swamp” an autobiographical album.
“It’s not like I’ve sold a million copies or anything, but it’s gotten a lot of critical acclaim,” he said.
The album was named one of the Top 10 “do it yourself” releases of 2005 by Gritz Magazine.”
Gulley said even though “Back to the Swamp” was released in 2004, it might be new to his fans in the Shoals..
“It was the record that kind of brought me back to life,” Gulley said.
The album features mostly original tunes written by Gulley, but includes the Johnny Wyker penned song “Baby Ruth,” and a song Gulley adopted, “My Baby Don’t Wear No Drawers,” which he first heard at a folk music festival in the Wiregrass region of south Alabama.
He also included “Greenwood Mississippi” by Travis Wammack and Junior Lowe because “it’s indicative of the blue eyed soul, blue and rock from Muscle Shoals.”
He also included “Joliet Blues,” a song written by the legendary Alabama blues artist, the late Johnny Shines.
Special guests, including Shoals guitarist Jay Johnson and blues artist Maxwell Russell, are expected to join Gulley during Saturday’s show.
Gulley said his music fits the genre known as Americana, a more traditional form of blues, rock and rhythm and blues.
Much of the material will also be included on his upcoming live album, “Down at the DeKalb,” which was recorded live at the DeKalb Theater in Fort Payne, the first stage Gulley ever performed on.
Gulley said he hopes Saturday’s Zodiac show will reintroduce Russell Gulley the musician rather than Russell Gulley the folklorist.
Tickets can be purchased online at russellgulleyzodiac.eventbrite.com.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.
Review: Russell Gulley's "Back to the Swamp"
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Review: Russell Gulley's Back To The Swamp (2004) by Dan Forrest | Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 1:...Review: Russell Gulley's Back To The Swamp (2004)
by Dan Forrest | Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 1:00 pm
Alabama bluesman Russell Gulley played a set at Java City November 1st that wowed the crowd.Many of the songs performed at that show are here on this cd. A combination of originals and well-selected covers, Back to the Swamp will appeal to lovers of country blues.
A Fort Payne native, Gulley spent a lot of time in Muscle Shoals, playing with many of the artists who created that distinctive sound. Songs like Sand Mountain Mule and the title track draw their inspiration from Gulley’s youth in the rural south. Like many of his peers, he enjoyed the new sounds of rock and roll, but unlike them, he was also taken by the blues. Covers of songs by Tony Joe White and Delbert McClinton have been chosen to reinforce the overall theme of the
timelessness and immediacy of the blues as an art form.
Review: Russell Gulley's Back To The Swamp (2004) - Bowling Green Daily News:
Here's What They're Saying About Russell Gulley "Live"
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Here’s what they’re sayin’ ‘bout Russell Gulley “live”…… The Russell Gulley Band played at t...Here’s what they’re sayin’ ‘bout
Russell Gulley “live”……
The Russell Gulley Band played at the Theatrical Lighting System's Christmas party. Russell and his band of superb musicians had our employees and guests dancing their faces off. I think he booked two or three gigs from the people at the party. If you enjoy blues sung by a voice who feels it, Russell Gulley is your man.
David Milly- Theatrical Lighting- Huntsville, Al.
Having worked with Russell Gulley on several occasions,we
always look forward to the next event that we can book him on. He is truly a pleasure to work with, and guarantees the delivery of great music.
Joe 'Dixie' Fuller/Riverbend Festival, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Russell Gulley has performed twice this season in the Center's
Courtyard Concert series. Both times, we have had packed houses and Russell has been wooed back for encores. I highly recommend Russell Gulley for all audiences.
Bobby Welch, Executive Director, Mary G. Hardin Center for
Cultural Arts, Downtown Gadsden, AL.
I've been booking blues bands at the Klatsch since 1984. After a few years, the musical "edge" seemed to slip away. The bands all started to sound the same...nothing distinct or outstanding. But, when Russell Gulley and his "Back to the Swamp" album took the stage here, I was catapulted back 20 years to when blues bands ruled down here in the south. I haven't had a great band like his on the stage in 20 years (and, believe me, we've booked some great ones). He provided us with a magic evening. It was a honor to have Russell on stage at the 'Klatsch.
Carol Record, The Kaffeeklatsch Bar, Huntsville,Ala.
"There's something about the pulse and heft of the music indigenous to the Shoals area of North Alabama--- you get the feeling that the players that come out of there have it bone-marrow deep in their souls.It's in 'em when they're born, it stays with them all their lives...
Russell Gulley's return to live performance, and his recent CD, shows just how timeless this stuff is, and how solid is his grasp of the basic elements of it. Nineteen seventy-five, nineteen ninety-five, two thousand and five, it don't much matter... Russell and his friends can bring it to life at any given moment."
Keith Harrelson…The Moonlight Music Café…Birmingham,Ala.
"Russell Gulley is a poet/singer of the people. A real connecter. In this world of the manufactured, it's a rare pleasure to see and hear an authentic troubadour like Russell Gulley."
“Jacky” Jack White…..Sucarnochee Revue Radio Show…
Livingston, Ala. University of W.Alabama
A Great Coming Back
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Blues & Co. Magazine (Dec.2004) Review ( France) « A great coming back » after ...
Blues & Co. Magazine (Dec.2004) Review ( France)
« A great coming back »
after twenty years of silence, here he comes again. Russell shows up his wrinkled face – don’t be surprised, he get older. In order to be forgiven for a so long absence, he is coming back with a brand new cd. A beautiful and really roots cd of Country Blues ( nothing strange when it takes 2O years to do it). This cd is –almost- light-years away from what Russell used to play before he “retired”. But what did he use to play? Southern Rock! With the Jackson Highway, the band with heavy guitars, straight in the line of 38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others. Then here comes a calm Russell who lets himself go and sings damn good with his low and warm voice. A voice that sound bluer than Blues and interprets a bunch of original titles (yes indeed he’s writing too!), a mix of Blues, Rock, Country Music, with a touch of Gospel. Gulley is sided by his buddies (and good ones at that!) who came to celebratethe return of grandpa Gulley: among who his brother Dennis Gulley (bass) and Tommy Paterson (harp), but also the Southern Rockers Johnny Neel (Allman Brothers Band) without his keyboard but with an harp, Chris Anderson (Outlaws and Blackhawk), and Shane Sutton (Gary Allen Band) playing the acoustic guitars.
Everybody trying to outdo each other in virtuosity, delicacynd, following an expressive and spellbinding Russel, especially on “Gospel according to the Blues”, an a capella number.
This cd is a beautiful peace of art!!! !!!
What Folks Are Sayin' About "The Swamp"
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WHAT FOLKS ARE SAYING ABOUT “BACK TO THE SWAMP” awesome.., heart-felt blues, brings an earlier li...
WHAT FOLKS ARE SAYING ABOUT “BACK TO THE SWAMP”
awesome.., heart-felt blues, brings an earlier life back to life!
Reviewer: Larry McMunn
Great stuff, Russell pours it out from his soul! A great CD, from the covers to his new compositions, Russell's feelings leap out of the speakers and bring memories back to life. I too, remember Uncle Bud, a wonderful memory too long buried. "Piece of Good Earth" is a fantastic remake of the Jackson Highway single from the 1970s, it sounds just as good and fresh as it did 25 years ago! "Back To The Swamp" is a masterpiece that CDBaby should feel honored to carry!
Good stuff, yeah Russell is a true bluesman!
Reviewer: Gary Fritcher
This is a CD that I can kick back and close my eyes and really enjoy Russells style of blues. Gospel according to the blues is a great one. Russell Gulley is a great writer. Check this CD out for yourself.
Blues straight from the heart of the man, Russell Gulley.
If you like your blues authentic, then we recommend the CD, Back to the Swamp. Listen, close your eyes and be transported back to a time when Blues was a feeling created by souls knowing no other life. Hats off to Russell Gulley, a true Bluesman.
One of the freshest CDs of the year!
Reviewer: Michael Buffalo Smith/GRITZ
Absolutely one of the finest CDs of the year. Gulley slides right into that legendary group of Alabama players like Eddie Hinton, John Wyker, The Swampers...I love his voice and Johnny Neel and Doug Jones really add to the mix. FANTASTIC!
The song writing is what makes this Cd memorable. The blues is here.
Reviewer: The Pulse
This Cd is is a firm effort for those interested in a stripped down blues recording that does not take itself too seriuosly. Gulley surrounds himself with excellant guitar palyers as well as, soulful harp players.
SONGS FROM THE HEART!
Reviewer: Tom Willis
While every song on this CD is very good, a few just seem to leap out at you. Back to the Swamp should become a standard and The Gospel According to the Blues will suprise you and bring delight to your ears. My Baby Don't Wear No Drawers is a song you will make you, at the very least, smile while listening. Baby Ruth, Wolves at My Door, and all the others are great listening. This CD is a must have.
..... Russell Gulley's time to shine has come front and center.
Reviewer: Rhonda Christopher
After years of being a behind-the-scenes driving force in the music industry, Russell Gulley's time to shine has come front and center. His voice, as unique as John Hiatt and as southern as Charlie Daniels, brings fresh country air to the smoky atmosphere of the blues. BACK TO THE SWAMP brings together his rich influences of southern funk/rock/blues into an acoustic blues album with soul. Russell writes mature lyrics even a child could understand and interprets them into blues felt best by ancient souls. This album has the feel of dirt country roads and flat bottom boats in muddy water. Probably "too good for the radio," but, oh, what radio is missing! Fortunately, my music collection is not limited to what the radio plays. Yours shouldn’t be either. BACK TO THE SWAMP is a must have! That, my friends, is the “Gospel According to the Blues.”
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Here's What Folks Are Sayin' About "Back to the Swamp"
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Here’s what folks are sayin’ ‘bout “Back to the Swamp” Just like all the great music that came f...Here’s what folks are sayin’ ‘bout
“Back to the Swamp”
Just like all the great music that came from Muscle Shoals, Russell
throws it out there for the listener...no overproduction...just the simple sound to fit the simple yet forceful lyrics...more artists should go "Back to the Swamp"
Gil Anthony...Blues Power..Dothan, Al.
Russell gives the listener a true blue experience. He has the rare
ability to mix traditional blues with sparks of original verse and chord changes.
Jennie McBride….Mountain Valley Arts Council..Guntersville,Al.
I learned a LOT from Russell (and his brother) when I was a kid
--probably my first real musical influence"
Pierce Pettis…singer-songwriter on Compass Records
Russell Gulley has created a masterpiece with the
recently released "Back To The Swamp." His ability to merge the rustic sounds of Alabama's Conservative Sand Mountain with the intense emotions of the blues seems a contradiction at first. It soon
seems evident, however, that he has actually found a unique link joining the two styles at a basic level.
Dick Cooper..producer.. Drive By Truckers
"Back To The Swamp" is from deep-down in a Man's heart and soul...Russell Gulley captures the Blues perfectly on this fantastic CD...
Davis Production Services, Inc.
Board of Directors MOVA Festival
Gulley’s blues are a driving blend of primeval rhythms mixed
with gospel and southern rock. He builds his music on tradition, but takes a fresh approach to achieve a different sound.
Bob Corley..Alabama Public Television personality and singer-songwriter
Russell who lets himself go and sings damn good with his low and warm voice. A voice that sound bluer than Blues and interprets a bunch of original titles…………… an expressive and spellbinding Russel, especially on “Gospel according to the Blues”, an a capella number.
This cd is a beautiful peace of art!!! !!!
Tonton Eric….Blues & co….France
Set lists vary but usually include originals from all of the current Cds, but may also include blues and southern rock standards.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.