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Tom Russell-‘Greatest Living Folk-Country Songwriter'-to Play Ketchum
Tuesday, September 20, 2022


EDITOR'S NOTE: Sadly, Tom Russell had to cancel his show as of Tuesday due to health issues, which resulted in the loss of his voice.

You might not expect a cowboy poet and troubadour to dabble in opera.

But Tom Russell knows no boundaries.

He wrote the folk opera/frontier musical “The Rose of Roscrea” to illuminate the life of a cowboy. And,  when it came time to pen the title track, he created the story of a 92-year-old man looking back on his journey from Ireland in the 1880s to a life as an American outlaw.

The conceptual project received critical acclaim, much as many of his other hits, including “Tonight We Ride” and “Navajo Rug,” which were named among the top 100 Western songs of all time by members of the Western Writers of America.

And Russell will show why Rolling Stone Magazine declared him to be the greatest living folk-country songwriter when he performs this week in Ketchum.

Tom Russell will perform his iconic one man show encompassing Americana music, folk, rock and the cowboy music of the American West at 7:30 pm. Friday, Sept. 23, at The Argyros in Ketchum. Tickets start at $25 and are available at

“Tom Russell is an amazing singer/songwriter and storyteller,” said Ketchum resident Judy Wells, who has seen Russell at cowboy poetry and music festivals in Elko, Nev., and Heber City, Utah. “The Argyros is a perfect venue for his one-man one-guitar show. And he’s a huge fan of Ernest Hemingway and has wished to visit the Wood River Valley and Hemingway’s haunts for years.”

Born in Los Angeles, Russell graduated from the University of California with a Master’s degree in Criminology and taught sociology in Nigeria during the Biafran War. He also lived in Spain and Norway and once played music for a circus in Puerto Rico.

He’s a talented artist—several major American museums own his art. And he’s even worked as a taxi driver in New York.

But it’s his musical career that distinguishes him above all. He started playing along Skid Row in the early 1970s in Vancouver, B.C., then relocated to Texas where he played in a band known as Hardin & Russell.

His recordings include “October in the Railroad Earth,” his hit song “Gallo Del Cielo” and “Outbound Plane”—a big hit for Suzy Bogguss. He’s covered the iconic “Wreck of the Old 97” and penned such songs as “Isadore Gonzalez,” about a Mexican cowboy who died in England while performing in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

He’s hung out with Johnny Cash, who has recorded his songs. Others who have recorded his songs include Nanci Griffith, k.d. lang, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott Ian Tyson and Tom Paxton.

“I’d call my sound “Jack Kerouac meets Johnny Cash in Bakersfield,” he proudly proclaims.


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