Sam Russell & the Harborrats have been a Seattle institution for 15 years now, displaying their one-of-a-kind “rock n’ roll cabaret” presentation on stage and on record at venues and events through the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Their sound is an oldies radio station come to life, playing originals & hits of both the early rock n’ roll and future eras in a style that combines sonics of classic doo-wop and modern indie-rock.
Comprised of Sam Russell (vocals & guitar), Ken Nottingham (vocals, bass, bouzouki, keyboards & harmonica) and Aimee Zoe (vocals, drums, percussion & keyboards), the band confidentially showcases their musical diversity and a signature blend of sensuality and intensity to any audience they play for.
The band specializes in performing an extraordinary display of range in material as presented through the eclectic styles of 1960s pop music, when The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes, Motown, Otis Redding and Roy Orbison all freely intertwined on Top 40 radio. Their distinct sound is further topped-off by the melancholy guitar sounds of Pacific Northwest indie-rock as exemplified by Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie. Sam’s elastic vocals bridge these styles and eras by effortlessly switching from falsetto soul to low soft-spoken croon and back again at a moment’s notice.
The band has to recorded 7 albums of primarily original material with their first album The Katie Sermon (2006), leading them to immediate rotation at highly-respected indie-rock tastemaker 90.3 KEXP. Further albums led to more plays and bigger gigs, as the band has shared stages with Fleet Foxes, Violent Femmes, Mudhoney, Ben Gibbard, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, La Luz, Archie Bronson Outfit, The Fastbacks, Red Elvises, Graham Parker and members of Pearl Jam & Soundgarden and played some of Seattle's most prestigious venues, including Neumos, The Tractor Tavern and Showbox Sodo.
Sam and band have built their expansive repertoire while playing hundreds of private events for in and around Seattle. Rather than playing mere “covers”, Sam and band often completely reinterpret a song to make the listener hear it for the first time again, while tapping into the essence that made the listener first fall in love with the song. Such examples would be turning Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” into a rockabilly rave-up, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” into a Bowie-esque glam banger or Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” into a gospely disco-groove.
And with Sam Russell & the Harborrats, you're not getting a random group of musicians playing together for the money...you're getting a group of friends who have been playing music together for over a decade AND a highly-regarded locally-sourced indie-rock band. The band’s years in the trenches has rewarded them with a tight intense telepathy, able to summon a magic that comes only by being more than the sum of one's parts.
Their latest album Ocean Shores serves as a meditation of isolation and fear in the Covid-era. Since its release in October 2021, Ocean Shores has enjoyed national and international airplay, including KEXP and KBCS in the band’s base of Seattle. The album focuses on themes of melancholy and regret, conveyed via 1950’s era-torch ballads and intimate Leonard Cohen-esque folk-rock, delivered in twang and reverb straight from the Twin Peaks roadhouse.
This past April, the band released the expanded edition of Ocean Shores, containing new bonus tracks including five of their signature covers, including Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)." The band is also currently workshopping songs at their stage shows for a theatre piece + album called Lose Your Illusion about growing up in the Midwest of the 1980s and 1990s amidst cultural nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s.
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