Give It To Me Rusty

Give It To Me Rusty

 Seattle, Washington, USA

Give It To Me Rusty's mission is to empower the homeless through music. From our on-the-street interviews with Seattle's homeless, we shape their real life stories into modern folk songs. These word-for-word tales of hardship and redemption remind us of our common humanity.


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Give It To Me Rusty began in 2008 when Noah Dassel was in a car accident that landed him on Aaron Zig’s massage table. After discovering a mutual love of music, we began meeting regularly in downtown Seattle during the summer of 2008, intending to write songs and busk for change. This is when the project evolved and in many ways happened to us.
During a Seattle park bench jam between Aaron and Noah one afternoon, Dean, a Vietnam veteran and traveller, began improvising words over our music. We sang along, turned on Noah’s handheld recorder, and created our first song. It became our namesake, “Give It To Me Rusty”, and embodies our ideal of sharing one’s truth in all its real, raw, “rustiness”. Not long after, Dean’s friend, Jim, told us his story. Jim was in Seattle seeking an experimental cure for ALS and called the police on himself so he could land in jail for the night and meet the locals. Jim began telling us his story in stark, poetic lines: ”I shot a man and went to prison for 16 years. What did I learn? - I really can’t say.”
As we put these words to music, we realized the depth and power within the stories and lives of the homeless we pass by everyday on the street. We began to formalize our process, bringing a digital recorder, guitars and open ears to the streets. We always ask permission of our participants. Editing is done for cohesion and brevity, but no words are altered. From this, we create a bed of melody and song structure. Our most satisfying moments have been running into someone we’ve worked with and playing their finished song back to them. Our sound is often compared to Simon & Garfunkel and Johnny Cash, while our project embodies the archival spirit of Alan Lomax.
Our mission is to personalize and empower the homeless through music.


Pioneer Square Recordings, 2012

Set List

Kick It
How The Wind Moves
War Heroes
Give It To Me Rusty
Early Morning
Thinking About Drinking
Don't Get Stuck In Yuma
Chango A La Pelota
Lost Train