Claudia Russell is a world-class vocalist, songwriter and musician. Says respected DJ/writer Rich Warren in Sing Out magazine:
"Claudia Russell is a great live performer! Her band - let's just say they're hot. Connect them to the power grid and they'd light up a medium-sized town."
With the Folk Unlimited Orchestra, Claudia plays a brand of Americana/Folk all her own, woven from elements of all her musical loves - folk, blues, western swing, rock and county. Drawing from her original compositions, obscure gems, folk and pop classics, Claudia's performances are truly heartfelt and entertaining. Using humor, personal stories and her "Who me?" attitude, Claudia quickly bonds with audiences, winning them over with her powerful voice and signature guitar voicings.
Claudia and her band have performed at the Kerrville Folk Festival near Austin, Texas, the Boston Folk Festival, Black Hawk Folk Festival, the Blair Street Festival in Silverton Co as well as at top venues across the country including the Freight and Salvage, The Great American Music Hall, Club Passim, the Point, Stone Soup, Linden Tree, McCabe's and more than 75 others venues.
Rounding out the F.U.O. are guitarist/mandolinist Bruce Kaplan, and bassist Mark Petrella. The trio often adds a guest member to make a quartet: West coast dates often include LA session ace, Carl Byron on piano and accordion. And Eric Lewis frequently sits in on guitar and dobro when the band tours the Midwest and south.
Claudia's first CD, Song Food, gained airplay on more than 125 stations and earned Claudia Best New Artist honors from WUMB in Boston. Claudia's 2nd CD Ready To Receive, and her 3rd, Live Band Tonight gained similar airplay as well as press acclaim including rave reviews in Sing Out magazine.
Claudia and the band have also done many live on-air radio performances including the longest running folk show around, Roz and Howard Larman's FolkScene, three appearances on WUMB with the patron saint of folk music, Marilyn Rea Beyer, West Coast Live, Folk Stage with Rich Warren, and Live From Studio One from KUNI, as well as appearances on KPFA, WORT, KCBX, KSUN and other stations.
One of the most satisfying aspects of performing around the country has been the opportunity to share bills with great performers such as Peter Rowan, Tish Hinjosa, Michell Shocked, Loudon Wainwright, Terri Hendrix, Bill Morrisey, Jimmy La Favre, Roy Zimmerman, Steve Forbert, Bill Staines, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, James Keelighan and Rosalie Sorrels.
Before starting here solo career, Claudia was a member of BMG recording artists Maggie's Farm. The band made appearances around the country, including Farm Aid where she shared the stage with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. She was also one third of the Life Is Grand Band, an award-winning vocal trio that featured original material, satirical rewrites of classic songs and stunning a cappella vocals. Their 90s FastFolk recording has been added to the Smithsonian/Folkways collection, making them a bona fide national treasure!
Claudia Russell and the Folk Unlimited are among the most exciting Americana artists around. Bring to your venue and light up your town!
Bruce Kaplan - Guitar, mandolin, b/g vocals
Claudia Russell - Harmonica, Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Song Food, 2000
Ready to Receive, 2005
Live Band Tonight, 2007
The Next CD, 2012
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You
Galesburg - Live at KUNI
So You'll Believe
Don't Let That Man Get You Down - Live
Stars - Live at The Currrent, MPR
Charlston - Live at KUNI
Let's Just Say They're Hot!
[+ Show ]
ÒClaudia Russell is a great performer...And her band. LetÕs just say theyÕre hot. Connect them to th...ÒClaudia Russell is a great performer...And her band. LetÕs just say theyÕre hot. Connect them to the power grid and theyÕd light up a medium-sized townÉThis CD is as musically solid as they come and in the world of obligatory live CDs, Live Band Tonight shines.Ó
--Rich Warren, Syndicated DJ, The Midnight Special
Claudia Russell Can Really Sing!
[+ Show ]
"Singer-songwriter Claudia Russell is a vocalist in the old-fashioned sense. She can really sing. No..."Singer-songwriter Claudia Russell is a vocalist in the old-fashioned sense. She can really sing. Not only does she have an impressive set of pipes, she interprets songs rather than merely convey the lyrics. [Her latest 2nd CD,] "Ready to Receive" is a professional work of strong musicality delivered by a superior voice in the crowded field of singer-songwriters."
Best Musician 2006
[+ Show ]
Berkeley's own Claudia Russell is a smoky-voiced thrush able to deliver a cosmopolitan lounge blues ...Berkeley's own Claudia Russell is a smoky-voiced thrush able to deliver a cosmopolitan lounge blues or a bluegrass romp with equal aplomb. Her second self-produced CD, Ready to Receive, is earning rave reviews and national airplay. She also is a fine guitar picker and songwriter, with tunes like "Oh California" and "Just Like You" sounding like ready-made Americana hits. Ð j. poet, East Bay Express
Wondrous Musical Landmarks
[+ Show ]
Watching Russell and her Folk Unlimited Orchestra is like taking a cross-country trip in a gleaming ...Watching Russell and her Folk Unlimited Orchestra is like taking a cross-country trip in a gleaming Airstream trailer, traversing the vast American landscape, stopping at wondrous musical landmarks along the way. The band might kick off with some So Cal style Folk Rock, head south for some accordion fueled border town folk, travel onto Buddy Holly’s Lubbock Texas for some retro rock, then sweat their way through some hot Louisiana cajun, head up into Nashville county, and make their way into Kentucky for a Bluegrass run. Then its onto a pit stop for some St. Louis Blues and beeline to New England for some sincere singer songwriter folk.
Lesser singers might stumble, or sound fake and uninspired. But Russell and her band possess an uncanny ability to get behind each song and make it their own, so the segues sound natural and the changes in style work to reveal different sides of a strong musical personality.
You might think that a singer as powerful as Russell would play The Diva on stage. But just the opposite. Rather, Russell assumes a sort of latter day Gracie Allen character - a little dizzy - while husband/mandolin player Bruce Kaplan plays the George Burns role. Their banter is often hilarious and they seem to take pleasure in trying to make each other laugh. So, as the two take the music seriously, they donÕt take themselves. The in-between comedy is a nice bonus that helps endear Russell and Kaplan to the audience.
Claudia's voice draws you into a song
[+ Show ]
Claudia's voice draws you into a song and keeps you there. Whether she is singing folk, country, blu...Claudia's voice draws you into a song and keeps you there. Whether she is singing folk, country, blues or pop, you know you are going to get a soulful, satisfying musical ride.
Top 10 Pick
[+ Show ]
A veteran of Los Angeles's independent music scene, Claudia Russell boasts a musical pedigree that i...A veteran of Los Angeles's independent music scene, Claudia Russell boasts a musical pedigree that includes sharing the stage with such notable songwriters as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and (hold on to your hats) Mickey Dolenz. Russell is also the daughter of the late renowned vocal coach Gilbert Russell, who instructed stars like Natalie Wood, Beau Bridges, and Dyan Cannon in the fine art of singing.
Small wonder, then, that it's Russell's voice that stands out most on this aptly titled indie release. Expressive, tremulous, and evidencing just the slightest hint of twang, Russell's vocals often bring to mind the Nashville pop of the late '50s and early '60s. Music-wise, Song Food revels in an eclectic mix of styles that includes sprite western swing, country blues, and (mostly) straight-up folk pop. Fleshed out with rootsy instrumentation that includes dashes of mandolin, viola, and National slide guitar, Russell's compositions (and the CD's cover songs, as well) resonate more deeply with each listen. High points include Russell's own "Dance" (All She Wanted to Do), the spunky "Until I Got You in My Arms," and a Delta blues reworking of the folk classic, "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down."
The Elusive Element X
[+ Show ]
By: Ben Ohmart (Assistant Editor) The elusive Element X is difficult to figure out. Claudia cer...By: Ben Ohmart (Assistant Editor)
The elusive Element X is difficult to figure out. Claudia certainly has the fluttering voice of a country star (and I do mean Star) and the ornamentation of bluegrass, but also there is jazz, pop, rock, easy listening (adult contemporary, if you like) in the gist of the disc. Yet like any good smelling perfume, the secret is in the secret ingredient. YOU tell ME what it is.
'I Second That Emotion' is a classic that's been dusted off plenty of times, but this is first bluegrass-like ballad version I've ever heard! Andy Ratliff's sporty, never-overworked banjo and Claudia Russell's own acoustic guitar make this into a version never perceived in The Big Chill. Claudia's smooth country voice ebbs in and out of the bluegrass arrangement like the one good girl in a whorehouse.
Speaking of Dolly Parton, Claudia has that kind of voice, a little lower than our big blonde friend, with a slight trill and a hopping, confident stride into all areas of southern comfort. 'Whiskey Walk' is much like country jazz, if there were such a dominating genre. A blues piano (thanks, Rob Strickland), a cool electric guitar from Eric Lewis, all held together with Kevin Sheahan lite walking bass, and of course Claudia is her usual, standard, brilliant self.
In short, quite the last kind of music you might expect from the offspring of a 1930s BBC Dance Orchestra vocalist (who's hit 'The Teddy Bear's Picnic' is known to all Goon Show fans, thank you), and a professional dancer (see mom in flicks like White Christmas and An American in Paris). However Claudia got into western beauty of songs like 'Tall Blue Candle' is hard to fathom. But those self-penned tracks show off the quiet strength of Ms. Russell's gentle bag of soul and song.
Her pick of instrumentation is a huge part of the greatness of this 40 minute piece of peace. Mandolin, violin, organ, accordion, acoustics, plug-ins; it's the sort of thing that could wind up in several different bins in the record store, the dominant section being the folk/acoustic setting.
Bottom line: well-produced kinda country, variety-heavy, fun-oriented, star quality voice, veering more toward the positive than the negative pole.
A Voice that is made for Folk
[+ Show ]
"Russell has a light, almost fragile voice that is made for folk music. She breaks hearts with such ..."Russell has a light, almost fragile voice that is made for folk music. She breaks hearts with such numbers as "Kathy's Song," playing the guitar as she sings."
'Old Friends' makes Simon songs new again
By Elaine Schmidt
Last Updated: Dec. 12, 1999
The music of Paul Simon is as much a part of the last four decades of this century as denim and acoustic guitars.
That music, and the memories it evokes, are at the heart of the Stackner Cabaret's current production of "Old Friends." Devised by James Kaplan and Jeffrey Herbst and produced in collaboration with the American Folklore Theatre, the show is an evening of Paul Simon's songs. Directed by Kaplan, with musical arrangements and musical direction by Herbst, the show features Michael Messer, Claudia Russell and Kurt Ziskie.
Tinkering with the music of Paul Simon, particularly with tunes that have been etched into our brains by decades of hearing the inimitable sounds of Simon and Garfunkel, is touchy stuff. We know how these songs were sung down to the slightest nuances.
Kaplan and Herbst wisely avoided comparisons to those familiar performances by writing the show for three singer/entertainers, one of them a woman. Even the most familiar of Simon's tunes get a fresh take in the hands of this trio, or members thereof, singing Kaplan's arrangements. The more obscure tunes are a delight to hear.
Messer, Russell and Ziskie are not cast into roles in this production. Instead they are onstage as themselves, interpreting Simon's music as they cozy up to the audience. They are a trio of talented musicians, accompanying themselves on guitars, bass, harmonicas and various hand-held percussion instruments as they sing.
The three singers seem at first to be an oddly matched group of performers. Ziskie is slightly reserved onstage, giving earnest deliveries with a polished voice and accompanying the songs on guitar. Messer is an animated performer, breezily toying with the audience, with the tunes and with his colleagues as he sings and plays guitar, bass and harmonica.
Russell has a light, almost fragile voice that is made for folk music. She breaks hearts with such numbers as "Kathy's Song," playing the guitar as she sings.
Although the three may seem at first glance to be a bad match, they balance and support each other onstage, creating a camaraderie that suits this feel-good music to a tee.
The singers appear in front of a selective New York skyline that is dotted with catch-phrases from Simon's lyrics. They are dressed in casual, slightly bohemian street clothes. They weave Simon's well-worn tunes into an evening of comfortably familiar entertainment. By the final number it is apparent that the old friends in the show are these now-classic tunes.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Dec. 13, 1999.
Claudia's set features her award-winning original songs as well as songs by cult favorite writers Carol Elliot, Anny Celsi, Jill Freeman, Jeff Talmadge and Ted Waterhouse. Also included are highly original covers of well known songs such as "I Second That Emotion" "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You," reworked with the Claudia Russell touch.