“"Let your faith –the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of that music which has yet to be heard– guide you. For Sam Russell is the light."” - Sean Jewell
— American Standard Time
Sam Russell & the Harborrats have been a Seattle institution for 16 years, displaying their one-of-a-kind vintage rock n’ roll presentation at venues throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The band specialize in an extraordinary range of material rooted in the eclectic styles of 1950s/60s doo-wop, garage & soul music (Otis Redding, The Sonics, Roy Orbison, The Ronettes) sprinkled with touches of 70s funk and 80s synth-pop and topped-off by the melancholy guitar tones of Pacific Northwest indie-rock (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and Death Cab for Cutie).
Sam’s elastic vocals bridge these styles by effortlessly switching from falsetto soul to low soft-spoken croon at a moment’s notice singing either his own songs reminiscent of Tom Waits, Sly Stone, Bruce Springsteen and Joni Mitchell or reinterpreting another artist’s work. Says Sam:
“Ray Charles once said when you’re singing a song, it doesn’t matter in that moment whether you wrote it or not. It’s YOUR song and your job as the singer and band is to make it yours.”
Sam and band have a vast repertoire 50s/60ss-era covers along with retro-tinged rearrangements of modern pop and indie standards. Their latest album Ocean Shores includes (as bonus tracks) Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” turned into a rockabilly rave-up, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” transformed into a Bowie-esque glam banger and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” into a slinky disco-groove.
Since 2006, the band has recorded 7 albums of primarily original material leading them to stare the stage 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 at some of the Pacific Northwest’s most prestigious venues.
Sam is joined in The Harborrats by Ken Nottingham (vocals, bass, bouzouki, keyboards & harmonica) and Aimee Zoe (vocals, drums, percussion & keyboards), together confidentially showcasing their musical versatility and signature blend of humor + intensity with every performance…whether playing a set of originals at a headlining show or their signature covers at a private event.
The band’s latest album Ocean Shores (released in October 2021) 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 in the Covid-era, conveyed via 1950’s era-torch ballads and intimate Leonard Cohen-esque folk-rock and delivered in twang and reverb straight from the Twin Peaks roadhouse.
See Sam & band live by checking our their upcoming live dates or book them for YOUR event by clicking link below!
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"more a garage-soul band more than anything, but they work in lots of other stuff. (Sam) has loads of stage presence and a strong voice"
Don Slack, KEXP 90.3, Seattle
"Russell is a real rarity in any music scene: a genuine, captivating performer who’s part preacher, part timeless rock and roller who always seems to generate genuine electricity on stage....He’s a refreshing original in this town who’s, somehow, already a star – the rest of us just haven’t figured it out yet."
Jon Rooney, Nada Mucho
"It's easy to be icked out by the term "blue-eyed soul". It conjures images of middle-aged white dudes raping the soul of Sam Cooke and it's been applied to everyone from yacht-rocker Michael McDonald to the Off the Wall stylings of Justin Timberlake. But in the case of Sam Russell's Harborrats, whose past EP's have run the rootsy gamut between the Killer and the Boss, the term is apt."
Ma'chell Duma, Seattle Weekly
"Sam Russell is a performer an audience loves, and just about every musician is loath to follow."
Bart Cameron, Ball of Wax Quarterly
"the doo-wopping local boys in Sam Russell & the Harborrats defy rockabilly cliché and show promise with their unaffected take on blue-eyed soul and rock..."
Hannah Levin, The Stranger
"a Midwestern bizarro version of Springsteen’s Asbury Park circa “The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.”......Like so many artists you gravitate toward, the river runs deep in Russell"
Paddy FIneran, Kenosha News
"As a vocalist he can deliver folk songs, soul songs and rockers....As a songwriter, he seems to have no genre boundaries, and has the ability to write songs that sound like classics from the first listen."
When You Motor Away....blog