Sisters welcomes back Tom Russell


Published Mar 15, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

For the organization that puts on the Sisters Folk Festival each September, that event is an anchor for its activities. But to be sure, Sisters Folk is a year-round operation, with a successful educational component in local schools, a popular songwriting camp in the mountains and a big annual fundraiser for and celebration of nonmusical arts.

Then there is the Winter Concert Series, which for the past half-dozen years has warmed up Central Oregon’s concert outlook during the coldest months of the year. It has become a welcome — or maybe the word is essential — part of the local music scene.

This year’s series featured the Claire Lynch Band in January and the Portland Cello Project in February. And it will end on Wednesday with the return of acclaimed folk singer Tom Russell.

For years, Russell has been a songwriter’s songwriter; his tunes have been cut by admiring bigger names like Johnny Cash, Nanci Griffith, Dave Alvin and Iris DeMent.

Not that Russell is a nobody. He’s four decades into a fruitful career of blending folk, country and rock ’n’ roll, with his recent records incorporating increasingly more Tex-Mex flavor, Southwestern sounds and American cowboy music.

To wit: “Mesabi,” Russell’s cinematic 2011 album that, per his bio, “connects the perilous bordertown of Juarez, Mexico to the real and faux glitz of L.A. and the bleak iron range of Minnesota.” The album cashes in on the respect Russell has earned among his fellow musicians, featuring guest spots by Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks and the Arizona band Calexico, which helped bring the stories to life.

The Washington Post said “Mesabi” “consistently reaffirms Russell’s status as one of the best singer-songwriters of our time.” Enough said.

Tom Russell; 7 p.m. Wednesday, doors open 6:30 p.m.; $15 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 for students, tickets available via the contact info below and at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters (541-549-0866) and Redmond (541-526-1491) and FootZone (541-317-3568) in Bend; Sisters High School, 1700 W. McKinney Butte Road; www.sistersfolkfestival.org/wcs or 541-549-4979.