“"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 are a long-time beloved Seattle institution, 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 (Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Roy Orbison, The Ronettes) sprinkled with touches of 70s disco (Abba), 80s synth-pop (The Cars), 90s alt-rock (Beck) and 00s pop + retro-rock (Amy Winehouse, The White Stripes).
Sam’s elastic vocals bridge these styles by effortlessly switching from delicate falsetto to gritty soul to low soft-spoken croon at a moment’s notice, reminiscent of David Bowie and Jeff Buckley while performing his own songs or reinterpreting another artist’s work. Says Sam:
“Ray Charles once said when you’re singing a song, it doesn’t matter 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 throwback-tinged arrangements 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 glam floor-filler and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” into a slinky disco-groove.
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.
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.
The band’s latest album 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 in the Covid-era, conveyed via Leonard Cohen-inspired ballads, twangy roadhouse rockers or & 90s indie-rock homages. Sam & band are currently working on their next album for a 2024 release.
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