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Russ Tolman

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Goodbye Eldorado to be released by Lost Records on April 19, 2019

Russ Tolman is an Americana singer/songwriter/guitarist who is brimming with pleasant revelations, contraventions, and variants. As a musician, he's been on the ground floor of movements. As a card carrying member of the Paisley Underground, he founded the ultimate 80's twin guitar, drop dead buzzsaw True West, a band whose recordings never quite captured their onstage horsepower. Obvious guitar god producer Tom Verlaine twiddled the studio knobs for the band, who worked a season of larger venues with R.E.M, in addition to years of constant touring on their own, but these hard working efforts did not yield the desired results.

As True West crumbled in a vise of frustration and dueling agendas in 1985, Russ decided he could split the artistic difference: he was free at long last from a disintegrating position to pursue the unpredictable yet satisfying angle of going solo. No matter that he had scarcely sung a note in his life. So what if he had to reshuffle the deck, reinventing himself to reflect his new unique, personal vision, without the mantle of a name or group affiliation and all of the onus and liabilities that come with it. It was now HIS ride and he alone would be driving.


As the volcanic gas and magma of a broken True West seeped into the earth, Russ recognized and ratified the motion, packing up and leaving his No Cal roots and jetting for sunny Southern California. Nineteen eighty-six saw his first solo release, TOTEM POLES AND GLORY HOLES, which was buttressed by the first attempts to gain a wider audience via massive touring with new compatriots, the Totem Polemen, which over time recruited guitarist Jon Klages (Richard Lloyd Band, Individuals), multi-instrumentalist Robert Lloyd (Steve Wynn, Victoria Williams, John Wesley Harding) and Dave Provost (Dream Syndicate, Davie Allen & The Arrows). Tolman would craft two more testimonials to his adopted metropolis, DOWN IN EARTHQUAKE TOWN and GOODBYE JOE, blasting off the 90's with an unconcealed kick and verve. These would be the first of four albums done huddling up with producer/engineer Brett Gurewitz, founder of the seminal So Cal punk band Bad Religion and fearless leader of the legendary punk label Epitaph Records.

Tolman outlines his unique watermark with each of these releases: adult, erudite rock indicating a hard fought journey forging his new place in this musical landscape with hallmark slashing guitars and heartfelt, barebones, ragged but right lyrics. A bonafide, forlorn voice from the back of beyond, not weary but wiser with more knowing stories to tell. In the half decade since the demise of True West, Russ had constructed a tower of songs that sought only the providence of the larger audience they truly deserved.

Flummoxed how his music fell between two stools of limited marketing categories here in the States, Russ kicked off his wanderlust expedition, moving to Europe, dividing his time between German autobahns, pastoral Denmark, winding Spanish autopistas, and narrow Italian country roads. Nineteen ninety-two and 1994 bore the releases of ROAD MOVIE and SWEET SPOT, respectively, as approval and victory, albeit, marginal but hard-earned, flowed from Europe much easier than it did Stateside. Unbowed he has traversed ahead with his music: subversively dropping tasty crumbs on the way, leaving hints, foraging towards the boulevard incrementally making his mark. People have noticed.

Nineteen ninety-seven found Russ Tolman in a new home (San Francisco) with his sixth album, CITY LIGHTS, co-produced by longtime partner in crime Steve Wynn and engineered by prodigious S.F. pop star Chris von Sneidern. Building on the breezy soulfulness first displayed in SWEET SPOT, this new bounty of songs carried a redolent spark of a certain Irishman's Bay Area recordings of another era. Russ zeroed in on his new wavelength as he confidently placed his new marker in the torn and frayed boho flats of the Mission and headed out, chin up into the cool foggy pub-crawling evening, dancing underneath the City Lights.

At the turn of century, Tolman returned to recording with the release of NEW QUADRAPHONIC HIGHWAY, transmigrating into Space Cowboy mode with the captivating additions of banjo, synthesizer experiments, pedal steel and saxophone. Far from a digression, this diversion was a dare, a galactic bet with the universe that compels one to appreciate the true treasure this album is. This album also features John Wesley Harding, Chuck Prophet, Tom Heyman, and Dale Duncan from Map of Wyoming and Flying Color.

Following a break to "get in touch with his inner adult," Tolman and wife Kim returned to Los Angeles where, in short order, he reformed the RUSS TOLMAN BAND, featuring Kirk Swan on guitar, drummer Dave Drewry, the ever present Robert Lloyd on organ, Dave Provost on bass and new addition Carl Byron on piano. The rejuvenated RTB recorded and released the digital single "Los Angeles" in 2013. Returning to the City Of Angels seemingly flicked a creative switch, beginning the return of full engagement and reconnecting with music. Something was definitely going on that bungalow. Twenty sixteen saw Tolman release the digital singles "Time Flies," "Everybody's Gonna Love Me," and "Vancouver Sun" on the 304 STAINLESS label. The following year, Tolman released a 20 song, 27 year retrospective album (CD and digital) entitled COMPASS AND MAP covering the years 1986-2013 and including music from all of his solo work along with the best of his digital singles. You won't want the night to end, swimming in the tasty hooks and singular vision that this overview of Tolman's best work presents.

Two thousand eighteen found Russ Tolman on a surprise sabbatical in Osaka, Japan, soaking up food, culture and a host of new adventures. His muse stoked, he finished his "love letter to Los Angeles,” GOODBYE EL DORADO, his eighth album to be released April 19, 2019 on the LOST label with physical distribution by CITY HALL RECORDS and digital distribution by THE ORCHARD. It's a plush, colorful new collection of tunes relating true confessions, witty rejoinders and observations about the human heart, pushed along with crisp style with all the usual musical suspects. Don't call it a comeback, the best is yet to come. That's Russ Tolman's story and he's sticking to it.

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