For more than 50 years, Texas singer-songwriter Shake Russell, has been entertaining audiences throughout the region and all over the United States with his unique Americana style of folk-rock. Weaving sophisticated harmonies through his songs and drawing from various genres, Shake created a style of folk-rock that is uniquely his own.
A prolific songwriter, Shake has written or co-written hundreds of melodies. Shakes songs and albums have frequented the Billboard charts, with many including “You’ve Got a Lover” (Ricky Skaggs) “Deep in the West” (Waylon Jennings/Jessi Colter), “Put Yourself in My Shoes”, “One More Payment”, “Our Kind of Love”, “You Don’t Need Me Now”, (Clint Black), “You Wouldn’t Know Me” (Miranda Lambert), “The Dare of an Angel” (Jerry Jeff Walker), “The Girl Just Loves to Dance” (Gary P Nunn), “Temper Temper”, (BW Stevenson), Miranda Lambert’s recording of “You Wouldn’t Know Me” went “Platinum” on her 2018 release of “The Weight of these Wings”.
Shake is a two-time recipient of BMI MILLIONAIRE AWARD and a four-time recipient of BMI Writers Award.
2013 “Texas Music Association” Entertainer of the Year in 2004, 2008 and “Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Music Association.
2016 Shake was inducted by “The Austin Songwriters Association “Music Legends Hall of Fame”
Shake has released 30 albums in his career and more to come. Shake’s latest CD, “Chasing the Song” is a delightful array of original compositions that beautifully showcase the extraordinary talents of this singer-songwriter. To fully appreciate and comprehend the magnitude of Shake’s contributions to music, one need only listen to his life’s work. From his 1978 album “Songs on the Radio” to the 2018 “Chasing the Song”, Shake’s music is a testament to the reasons why he is so widely celebrated as a Texas Music Legend!
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Randy Hulsey, Shake Russell, Adam Gordon
Randy Hulsey 00:00
I'm super excited this evening because I have a Texas music legend right here in the crystal vision studio. Hey everyone, it's Randy Hulsey. Here, your host of backstage pass radio. My guest today is a prolific Texas singer songwriter that has made a wonderful career writing theme songs, hit songs, and winning countless awards for his efforts over the years. Don't go anywhere. I'm going to get into a much anticipated conversation with the Texas troubadour shake Russell when we come back,
Adam Gordon 00:28
this is backstage pass radio, the podcast that's designed for the music junkie with a thirst for musical knowledge. Hi, this is Adam Gordon. And I want to thank you all for joining us today. Make sure you like subscribe and turn the alerts on for this and all upcoming podcasts. And now here's your host of backstage pass radio Randy Halsey.
Randy Hulsey 00:58
Sheikh, welcome, good to see you.
Shake Russell 01:00
Thank you, Randy for having me.
Randy Hulsey 01:01
Yeah, my pleasure. I appreciate you and your lovely wife D being here today. I guess first things first for you guys. Happy I think it's belated 20th anniversary to you, Andy. So congratulations. Thank you. 2020 years, that's almost an eternity you hadn't close?
Shake Russell 01:20
Yeah, I'm flying by Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 01:22
Terry and I have think just made 3333 years. So she hadn't thrown me out yet. So that's a that's a good thing. I wanted to take the listeners back to a western Missouri town of independence. What What kind of stuff were you into as a kid? And independence? music You mean or just throw in general? Yes. Or sports, music, whatever
Shake Russell 01:47
teenager. And music was my other passion. My buddy Larry met stuff lived in neighborhood. He had a guitar and I borrowed a bass from a friend. And we found a drummer and started playing little sock hops and dances at school. Then songs we heard on the radio, you know, we weren't writing our own songs. We were just learning how to play songs. And by playing them, we kind of learned how to how they were put together, you know, the courses to versus a bridge and chorus. And so it was it was a time of our learning. I was playing bass, like I said, with Larry MyStore. We went through several incarnations of bands and drummers and keyboard players and till it finally, when I graduated high school, I was playing a Christmas assembly at St. Mary's High School and there was this young guy playing a song he had written for the Christmas assembly. His name was Dana Cooper. And I'd never met I met Nina that day, we talked backstage and swapped a couple of old Beatles songs, and decided we want to put a band start writing songs together. And it's like he was 17. I was 18. And we so we put a little band together. And we play all these Bala bands and all these kinds of things around Kansas City and independence. And finally we did that. And then we gave kind of broke it up. And at that time I met both Dana and I were big fans of a group called the Union Street times. And they were from the leader of that group, John Van Sciver was from Texas. At the time, we didn't know why their music sounded so different than everybody. Everybody had concerts in the Park on Sunday. We even played there, our band, but these guys came out you in st times, and played some old Jay Leno. Jay, Jeff was except for Bojangles Michael Murphy songs, all the song for Texas songwriter John was doing and making them his own. And he put on a show, they just didn't get in place on it. They had routines, you know, a very entertaining group. And I was lucky with both Dana and I just loved him and everybody loved him because it was so different. And then I got the chance they needed a bass player and, and I knew the guitar player in the band, the ministry time and he said, coming audition. So I auditioned John and Michael, the bass player. For a few hours. I learned all those songs from little cassette. They give me other concerts. I had my heart third part harmony all worked out. And we we started I got to get you know, because I could sing on pitch and play the bass and drive all night. So I got the gig. And we played for a year, a couple of years around colleges all over the Midwest, went down to the south, south east like Georgia, Florida. Spent a lot of time in that area playing colleges. And there were concerts you know, before that I'd been playing bands that we just played for dances. Nobody was sitting there listening. These were concert concert situations was a big opportunity for me. I was playing bass and Vanderburg very encouraged and he heard a couple of my songs I'd written and one of them was deep in the West that far back and he said we got put that in the show you know we have put Devon in and a couple other was hard to find a smile and so all sudden became a songwriter in the show Besides being a bass player, so you'd like to say one thing led to another to where finally, after doing all this touring around the Midwest, John said, I want to go back to Texas, all my friends are down there. And if you want to come, you can come, I'd love for you to come in and play bass with me. And I want to go to Missouri. So I joined the band went on down here with him.
Randy Hulsey 05:20
Gotcha. So it was the bass guitar that you started on. Yeah, right. So the, I guess the acoustic came later on for Yeah, I
Shake Russell 05:29
borrowed a friend's bass and him own. And, you know, in school, I played trombone, from nine years on until I graduated as an orchestra and band. So I had the bass in my mind, bass clef and a bass parts in song played on trombone usually. So when I started playing music at 1314, I got the bass, it seemed like a natural instrument for me to play because I like bass lines, as upside down, but I was, I didn't know any better, really. I mean, it really didn't. Nobody said, hey, that's upside down. And it wasn't my guitar to turn around anyway, so I played it. And to me at that time, as a bass, it's big strings on the bottom, no skinny strings on top. The same logical means that I learned the neck that way on the bass. For several, several years, I played the bass while played on and on. But finally, after doing that for a while, my buddy had a guitar course and I borrowed his guitar and just turned it upside down on the same logic, and got me a millbay chord book and started making simple chords like D, you know, A, G, and those simple chords and cowboy chords. Yeah, yeah. And when to take lessons finally, and so William, when you need to turn that thing around, you know, cuz you're upside down. We can't teach it. And you know, I should have, but I didn't. So here we are. 50 years later, I'm still planning to LA.
Randy Hulsey 06:48
That's, that's interesting, because I showed you a CD when you got here that you signed the CD for me your I think it was at the greatest hits collection. And you had signed that back in 2006. And I think you are play and somewhere off of Highway six. I can't. I don't remember what I did last weekend, somewhere. That's exactly where it was. And I can remember being a guitarist myself, and I'm watching you play. This is the first time that I was ever exposed to your music. And I'm like, God Almighty, what is he playing on that guitar? Like I couldn't I couldn't figure out the chords that you know, I'm like to see open tune what what's going on here? And then I didn't learn till later that I didn't realize that the guitar was flipped upside down. And you were playing it left handed, which threw me completely off as a guitar player.
Shake Russell 07:37
Yeah. players or players. Even Michael Hearn, today won't look at my hands.
Randy Hulsey 07:42
You don't know what gear is by looking at your right yeah.
Shake Russell 07:46
That's pretty cool. You know, and I, one time I went off decades ago and left my guitar at home, like a bonehead. I got done with a gig and had woman. And because I played upside down, I could just grab somebody else's gift. I grab your guitar and play it. No problem. I don't have to have a special lefty model, you
Randy Hulsey 08:03
know? Yeah. Interesting. Yes. It
Shake Russell 08:05
has been official that way.
Randy Hulsey 08:05
I didn't realize that your relationship with Dana goes all the way back to my child, your child or Yeah, like your childhood days for the most modern right. I didn't realize that relationship was back that far. And I think you you said you you left Missouri you move to Austin was the first stop for us right first, Houston was first Sand
Shake Russell 08:27
Mountain, John Van over new miscarry that owned the place and random guys. So she said, come on down. We'll give you that apartment by the clubs. Two of us could stay up there and John to stay with his relatives down here. So we had a place to stay. And we'd work you know, five nights a week and some nights. It's hard to anybody there. But as Mrs. Carrick on the weekends, you get better. We did that for two or three weeks, maybe a month. And finally John made contact with his friends, Michael Murphy and Jerry, Jeff up in Austin. And so he wept that migrated up to Austin. Okay. 70 into 72. And to start playing around there,
Randy Hulsey 09:04
and that was the band you mentioned was Ewing street times. Correct. And that was founded by John yet Correct. Okay, gotcha. And I think you had left maybe the whole band left but speak to me about you had left for a short run to I think Chicago and then maybe New York was in there somewhere. And then you finally made your way back to Houston. I think somewhere around 75 ish and hit the hit the scene what drew you up to Chicago and to New York
Shake Russell 09:38
after you injury time disbanded. We broke up Bandler so I'm gonna do my own thing. And Michael mascus, who's the guitar player in new industry times and old dear friend. He was from Chicago. He had taught up the old school of folk music in Chicago, before he became part of the industry time from Chicago. So he knew everybody he knew, Steve Good man, you know, and all the different clubs that everybody played. So he took me around, introduced me to people. And story hotel that when I was in Chicago, I went to see, Elizabeth cotton was playing at the old school of folk music, she plays upside down and backwards. Because like I do. So Michael, drag me backstage, made me play a song for and she'd back to get ready to go on, but she very kind and he was Miss caught message. He was playing one of his songs where he plays just like you do. And she sat there and listened to me play my song or defined smile. Afterwards, she's had a big smile on her face it that's very sweet as very sweet and very, you know, just like my grandmother. And then we excuse ourselves and leave front for the concert. Then she gets up on stage. She's a grandma backstage. No, she gets on stage. And she starts just as a light around and she just fingerpicking away and just lost into the zone. Okay, yeah, it was amazing. Wow. So that was Chicago and I put a band together a bunch of great musicians, Chicago band, and we wrote a couple of songs. I brought them back to Austin because I had a friend who is trying to get me a record deal. And I want them to hear this band at St some tapes. This will bring him download book some shows. So but he did that for about six months, and nothing happens. So the band went back to Chicago. And I went up to New York, okay, at that time that had been taped on the margins and the guy in Jaipur, hedonic J. Aaron, now, he was the head studio in Austin, he was trying to get dentistry times a record deal. And when that broke up, the band broke up, he kept trying to get me a deal on my own. So he went to New York, we went together up there and made all the rounds to management and trying to get a management deal. You know, playing on the streets, doing open mic nights, everything like that in the village and seen a lot of cool people, you know, up in New York musicians, you know, Bob Miller, and all these guys were hanging around, Patti Smith, and anyway, so from there, nothing happened. So I went back home to lick my wounds, and then all of a sudden us. Van recall Mr. Manuel, Khanum, Houston, he says, and a bunch of hot pickers people don't even put a band together down here, you know, you come down and play some bass with me for a while. And meet Mike Markkula, a Danny Everett bunch of folks who were hanging around. And we had happened, we came down and started putting bands together as about 76. Okay.
Randy Hulsey 12:29
Now you had mentioned, Steve Goodman, he wrote a city in New Orleans. Wasn't that one of his tunes that he did great songwriter himself. There. Yeah. Now, I think you started to get some local play in Houston. There was some live recordings that were done on a very well known radio station here. Kol rock 101 Talk to us a little bit about was the show and begin on the show that kind of thing. And how that was a springboard of some kind for
Shake Russell 12:59
you fairly well. I mean, when I came back here for a while, he's now hooked up with Dana, my buddy from Independence. He was out in California trying to get a record deal. went south. So he's going back to school, get back, got our music, and went up to visit with him and said, Man, I got some stuff happening in Houston. You got to come down here and just hanging out doing some new songs. And, you know, we could maybe put a band together. So he came down and we went on one on one, and did a little mini concert free song concert live in the studios. These new songs we had just written, I'd written you got lover. He'd written songs in the radio we written when I coming home together. So we played those songs on the radio and people just started calling him off the charts with the how popular that was there. So who are these guys? That led us to meeting Bruce Bryan out of channel to Ron stone, and they do articles on interviews with us, you know, to get us on TV and out in the public eye. So that really was a big help. And then that led to like by play pool, Dell Adams from the music critics for the post in the Chronicle. They were big allies. They loved what we were doing, wrote up great things. And finally we said our manager John masa tiny, he was a manager at Theodore is his client side to manage me and Vanover Michael Markkula a and Danny Everett. They started his own little company called potbelly. And so for a while he was managing us. And he said he want to put an album out, you know, you're popular now with 101 thing going on. And so let's do a 45 first and just test the waters and see if anybody responds. So we put out a little 45 with song called to silver hearts and Temper Temper, you know, and it sold well and you know, got a little airplay, so that then we went back in and we took some things we'd already recorded. Three or four elements are caught up in Austin, and then we recorded some other stuff out of Houston. Didn't sound I believe it was get the guy's name now to add to it, so we had a whole album, and we put it out and we had a local company put it out for his charity records. And the thing just took off. I mean, we sold 10,000 copies and a couple of weeks and that was pretty good for local nobody you know? Sure. And I got the attention of Billboard the heddle area for South West happening John talked about the band selling all these records Who are they and and that Gary P nun who's a good friend from the Austin days he said, You know, I shake I want to do record with you. So he took me up to Austin introduced me to some people handle Jerry Jeff and Joey Lee and, and, and said, you know, you need to I want to do a record with shake Russell. And at that time, Dana had arrived. So what I said was, it needs to be shaken up. So Dana Cooper, not just shake wrestle. So we will start doing a record, they kind of push Gary P out of the picture. These people that were I won't mention names, but they took over producing it. After we got to produced it was a great experience. They they went out and got a distribution deal with MCA Records at took off, so about 50,000 copies, and is encouraging you going right direction for us.
Randy Hulsey 16:17
So I know that before, you know, we kind of hit the record button. I told you that I thought that that was kind of an interesting, interesting that you and Dana played on one on one because that's more of a harder rock format. And you told me, you know, a different show that they had on Sundays. Talk to the listeners a little bit about Country Sunday.
Shake Russell 16:37
Bard Hammer was one of the disc jockeys that had the show, and he would play you know, some people that already been signed like rusty weird BW Stevenson, but if you had a good sound tape then played for you. And we were getting kind of promotion from different places, you know, by word of mouth and by them being on TV and having good reviews. So they put a couple of my songs on there RSR on mine, Dana's and popularity just started growing, you know, it was a natural kind of thing. So, but, you know, that's what led to the Gary P coming and saying, let's do a record together. And we're hoping that was going to be the springboard. Yeah. And and, you know, this is what it is. Well, he's
Randy Hulsey 17:18
he's been around a long time, Gary P. Yeah. Yeah. I think I saw him at play the Cypress saloon, which is now Creekwood grill which is one of the places that I play all the time. Yeah. So it's interesting because sometimes I do some storytelling and my shows and you know, we'll do old songs by like the Bellamy brothers or something and I say that you know, this very stage has been graced with the shake Russell's and you know, the the Bellamy brothers and that type of thing. It's it's pretty earpiece plated. Yeah, yeah, I saw him there.
Shake Russell 17:50
He's turning a lot. Yeah. Now, you
Randy Hulsey 17:52
spoke earlier about your bandmate John Van tuber, which was kind of the reason that you ever came to Houston. Initially, I believe that John passed somewhere back around 1985. But you had an album called time spent. And I think you had a handful of songs on that release that were in John's memory, if I have my facts. Correct. Can you talk a little bit about some of those songs that you had written? Well,
Shake Russell 18:23
yeah, for one with John. You know, he was like my older brother and I I was lucky enough to meet him and certainly with Dana but but John was he was admired by a lot of musicians and McCauley. Murphy. You know, you guys love John because he was just a unique individual. He was his his Texas as unique as towns, or Stevie Ray or any of the big names Willie. He was John was unique. I don't know if you ever saw him play or not. I didn't. He was a one man show. You know, and I played with him for 15 years. And phase like a brother Jimmy and then an 85. He and his wife were robbed in their homes and murdered, you know, and they caught the guy is finally about a year out. They're all still in jail. To him are still in jail. But it was tragic. I blew everybody's mind. You know, all the musicians didn't know who would do something like that. John was such a kind person and just thought life and love and music. But they met this horrible end. So afterwards, I put a record out now, I wrote a song called true love for John and Debbie, because they both been together and were murdered together. It was a love song to them. And then I wrote another song that was a song that I had to write just because I was so disturbed that people were getting the wrong idea about John from the newspapers and and when I was playing at once you brothers out in his college kids were at the bar and Pepsi. Talking about this story was in the newspaper's that time quite a bit. John's trial, the trial was going on John's murders and Debbie's. So as a topic people were talking about and somebody College had said, Yeah, can some dealer that got killed, you know, and his home and loved. I said, You don't know anything about who he was. And so I said, I'm gonna write a song, you know, and get the essence of John. John was an outlaw. You know, like Willie Whelan, all those guys, too many laws on the books for them. They would never harm a fly, you know, they're, they played music, you know. And so anyway, John was just of that ilk. And you know, I just had to write a song. So I was, we did an album together, coming home, me and John, Dana Cooper and Mike Markkula. A. And we had investors and had to put our real names and social security numbers on the line, dotted line. Everybody except John, he wrote down Angus Mustang. That was his emphasis alias, you know, okay. And he was, he was Angus Mustang. He, you know, he, he gave me a little after he says, oh, yeah, another lifetime. They chased us out of Dodge City, you know, it was self proclaimed, you know, kind of, I'm an outlaw. So I wanted to write that in the song. Because he used to say there's a difference between an outlaw and a criminal, not an outlaw just think there's too many laws on the books, and they wouldn't hurt anybody. minding our own business. And then the criminals are the ones that kill John and Davey that needed money in the care and care less about people's lives, right. Yeah. So John always said as I worked all these things into the song and call it the bout of Angus Mustang. So those two songs came from, from John Debbie, for them.
Randy Hulsey 21:45
Yeah. You know, you hear about that kind of stuff happening on the news all the time, botched robberies, and things like that. But you don't you don't ever, you don't ever think a whole lot about it until it hits home. Like, you know, you know what I mean? Like, you're one of the unfortunate people that knew somebody that was involved in that, but some good songs came out of it did their tragic loss
Shake Russell 22:08
fracture, and I still carry my heart. Both of them's Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 22:11
yeah. Now, at the time of the time spent record, I think you and Dana had parted ways by that time and you were engaged with Jack Saunders. Was he with you at the time of the time spent? Rhetoric? I just want to make sure I had my my facts or my my timelines in line. They're really good doing well. Thanks. Yeah. I'm passing the passing so far. And then when Jack Saunders was with you, you guys were known as the sheikh Russell band at that.
Shake Russell 22:50
We came just a duo, myself, Jack rusty burns from point blank. He played guitar upside down also, like The Rock Band point blank. Oh, really? Had no interband broken up and mutual friends pushed together and haven't rescued my bounds like having a big dog and a small leash because he could tear it up on your hand. And he was like, he has upside down, but he could play that thing all over. You'd never know it. Well. He used to always say, Don't tell anybody that's easier playing lead upside down. I'll never know but he was pretty cool. I had I had no idea I had no idea man. And then he brought his drummer down from point blank, Buzzy groan buzz, he became the drummer for our group rally Osborne play keyboards. He was great keyboard player. He's passed. So that was the band and we were like, became a Southern rock band with point wax and put you know, yeah, and it was cool. It was a different thing. And we did that for for the 80s since after he joined with John died, rescue did and buzzy and we played together as a band until 1990 that the band broke up people in different directions and Jack and I started doing a duo. Okay, just two acoustic guitars and still have a full band and writing songs together and Okay Jackson means great player on a you know Jack
Randy Hulsey 24:11
shore I don't know him personally. But of course I've heard a lot of y'all stuff are done player.
Shake Russell 24:15
Yeah. Good songwriter.
Randy Hulsey 24:16
That's interesting. I've got several vinyl records of point blank in there and they will one of my favorite songs of all time is a song called Nicole code that they did I love that song and what a small world that's that's what I love about these interviews as a you find out little trinkets of information that is really really cool. They're they're worth their weight in gold. I think if we fast forward it a little bit. Somewhere around 88 You met a kid out of Katy Texas, who used to open some shows for you and the world would later get to know him as Clint Black, right? Yeah. Yeah. I'll talk a little bit about how you and Clint met up before his I guess his rise to stardom or to stardom
Shake Russell 25:02
you? You bet big time? Yeah I was I always tell the story that my show sometimes when I introduce Put yourself in my shoes that I was in South Park guitars over and Bel Air on a Saturday morning buying strings. And these kids were all playing guitars, all these rock and roll songs and all sudden heard you got a lover coming through all of it, you know, I looked over and his kid is sitting on a windowsill there and it's a black T shirt. He's just playing you gotta love it. He looks at me with a big old grin on his face says a bit. You know that one, don't you? So he knew who you were then I start playing but that's my first time ever laid eyes on him. And he said I want to come out and I'm playing my brother's band. I want to come out and open some shows if I could. So we went out my manager and I at the time went out to hear him play with his brother. And he played harmonica and bass guitar mainly. So he said, Yeah, come on out and do a solo thing in front of us. He did and you know, it wasn't writing his own songs yet. But he was doing all these like steamroller Blues by James Taylor. Yeah. What Kodachrome whatever song he was doing he made it his own was saying is rare off. You know? We've got to be where he would finish his last song. And people getting leaves him and shake us. We'll be right up yet. And people go, Well, you want to hear? Oh, yeah, no, but during that period, though, we traveled together playing gigs. And we'd write songs we wrote Put yourself in my shoes, one more payment and about a dozen songs. And he recorded half dozen once he got his big break. You know,
Randy Hulsey 26:41
I think that's so cool. And I don't know that a lot of people think about the songwriters like they do the artists that go out and play the songs. They're kind of the unsung heroes behind the scenes. But I had a gentleman named Tony Hazelden. He was in a band, a Louisiana Music Hall of Fame band called La Rue. And he went to Nashville, and he wrote for 30 years in Nashville, and he wrote some number one songs for Keith Whitley and George Strait, Reba, I mean, kind of the list goes on and on and on. And you never you know, you never put the correlation between the songwriter to the artist, everybody. A lot of times just think that those guys are writing their songs and they do write a lot of their own stuff. Right. But times are written by absolutely you know, you had who was it? Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet that wrote the tons of stuff for George Strait and and they write forever and ever. Amen. Yeah, they wrote a lot of stuff for George but it's cool because I can guarantee it that the listeners right now when you talk about songs, like put yourself in my shoes, probably have no idea. You know that they're listening to an interview with Sheikh Russell, the guy that wrote that song for Clint Black Bluecoat. Okay, and who was the CO writer? Okay, you guys wrote it together?
Shake Russell 27:58
Gotcha. Bunch songs together when we're traveling together there. Okay. And so
Randy Hulsey 28:03
I know that he had to be he might have more siblings, but I know Brian and Kevin were were musicians around town for a long time. Are they still active in the music scene? Or? Yeah, so
Shake Russell 28:15
Brian, maybe last year, we did a private party together. Okay, so I saw him. Kevin I see occasionally. And yeah, too. When we first met Clint Oh, I first went to hear him audition an audition to play. He was playing with Kevin's band he was playing bass and harmonic Sure yeah. I used
Randy Hulsey 28:33
to see their names around Marquis stuff like that but I haven't seen him in a long time and you know of course I'm not out and I of course I'm a local musician. But you know I'm not out in these venues every weekend or anything so I you know, they may be more prominent and playing a lot more than I even thought they did but
Shake Russell 28:53
they stay busy on pursuits you know in our lives side music but neither one made it to the accident clan of course you know for sure got that big break but they still out doing it and so
Randy Hulsey 29:07
the big brothers usually hate it when the little brothers outdo them. But but I'm sure they're very proud of very product plant and I think what is Clint and Lisa and Nashville these days are they in case they're not in Katy? No. Okay. Are the are the is the family still out in the Katy area though?
Shake Russell 29:26
I don't know if there's still the mom and dad. Okay, gotcha.
Randy Hulsey 29:32
Okay, so Clint went on to have a really huge hit that you guys you mentioned you guys had co written together. And I was wondering if maybe you could tune up that guitar a little bit and maybe play Put yourself in my shoes as you're good. Okay, awesome.
Shake Russell 29:50
Is Put yourself in my shoes, a wall Your mind is made up you won't even you didn't even cry this time you will never see all of us MERS fever memories will stay the same we want to see the same thing wouldn't seem the same you see just watching me hurt me put yourself in my shoes for me put myself in your shoes maybe then you'd see it in my shoes you would have some sympathy find it on and put myself in your shoes heard me you're gonna pass me by you say you don't even view goodbye and I know you're not the same we do we want to use an ultrasound I thought we may be in my book a while phone me in your shoes maybe you see if you purchase in my birthday find it on and put myself go shoot me good shoot me you selling my shoes.
Randy Hulsey 33:11
That was great shake. Thanks for sharing that what a what a treat and talk to me a little bit about how far up the charts that song went for. Did it go all the way now on Billboard number two, number two number two also. Okay. Yeah, we'll get into a little conversation about that number two business. But now shake Russell band broke up and you paired up as a duo with Jack for a run of five, six years and released about five albums together right. And then after you and Jack wrapped after that six ish year run, you form the shake Russell trio with Mike Robertson bass and dope Floyd on mandolin.
Shake Russell 33:57
That's quite a bit later. Yeah. Jack and I broke up our duo around 75 I mean, now sorry. 85. Okay, knowing exactly, man. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 34:09
9595 Perfect. Now we're in the right deck that
Shake Russell 34:11
we are okay. And then that's when I started. I went off at Nashville did some writing. And I hooked up with Dana again. We started doing shows together just the two of us. For a few years there. We were doing that. And that ran its course and we put a record out together at that point called at light loves bright campaign, the name of the album and it was a fun one to make with just Dana and I do and everything on it having fun. And the FSF ran its course I was kind of looking around, we moved to Austin, and I've run into my old friend Mike Roberts, who played bass player had played with me back in the early 80s. And that one of my incarnation bands, you know, so he was up there living and came up some gigs that hey, he'll play bass with if you want On Gary Cohn, and then Doug Floyd, great mandolin player. And he was hanging out to us and started playing with Mitch. We had a little trio. And I don't know how about 10 years maybe or so we had that trio. And there's a lot of fun. We did several albums together, won some awards here in Texas, you know, for local groups or,
Randy Hulsey 35:24
you know, I was gonna ask you where you found Mike and Doug, but I guess Mike had previously played
Shake Russell 35:29
games. Before I knew Doug for he played with rescue. We're for a lot. I didn't know that. Okay, I made him van. And then once I got to Austin, we kind of hooked up. You wanted to play
Randy Hulsey 35:39
where were both of these guys native Houstonian type of guys, or where did you run into Austin Austin guys. Okay, and are they are they local here now? Are they back in Austin?
Shake Russell 35:50
Mike Roberts is in Bastrop. Okay, we played yesterday at Bernards together. Oh, cool winery, giga. He's in restaurants. Doug's up in outdoors foodies and all that. I forget what they call that area out by Willie's golf course and everything. Not Round Rock. Not Round Rock. Okay. I forget what they call these up and up the hill country. Okay. Playing with other people. Right.
Randy Hulsey 36:12
Are you current with Mike right now at all with Mike.
Shake Russell 36:15
Mike. Robert. Yeah. Well, yesterday we played, you know, occasionally we when we needed a bass player, we bring him into the show. Sometimes we play places where we're just doing the duo or something we don't. But yeah, he's still in. He's still our bass player. Okay, okay. Doug moved on to the things but we can hook up the Michael Hearn. Yes.
Randy Hulsey 36:36
share with the listeners where the relationship with Michael Hearn began and where did you meet Michael and what was kind of the background with him?
Shake Russell 36:46
I met Michael back, you know, with wood first came down to Texas in the 70s. We were playing up in Dallas. He's from Dallas. And we were playing now. The Ruby on which old folk club everybody played. Kind of like Anderson fair. Everybody came through there was singer songwriter played there. And he was playing, he was a young guitarist, just out of school, he would come to the shows hanging out. And he started playing with Murphy. You know, Michael Murphy toured with him for a while. So I'd we'd cross paths. We did a show three times opened up from Murphy and, and Michael was there. So we we connected, and time goes by. And then finally, well, poor jack and jack and I were playing together. He invited us to come up to he's, he lived in Taos in the time. And see it's come up here, you know, he has a band called South by Southwest, very popular dance band. He's very popular up there. So when I went out there, he had been doing my songs for a few years, deep in the West and the older ones. You gotta love her. And now, so people knew my song, it blew my mind, you know, because Jack and I went digital duo and opened up for South by Southwest for several gigs. And Michael and I started writing songs together and Jack to all three of us. We renewed that friendship, and much bigger way and he would come to Texas and my band would back him up. Michael Hearn, you know, so we were doing this exchange thing, and, and now, I got to know him better. And we started. And I've known him now for gosh, almost 40 years. And we start playing together just often on back and forth. And finally, he said, I'm going to come to Texas and play more, says, we'll come on down here. Let's put a U and on Doug and Michael do a little quartet. We did that for a few years. For Doug left. And then after deadline, we still kept Michael sept coming down, playing with me and Mike Robertson. And writing songs together even more. So just a vault and then now I'm jumping ahead here but But Michael has his own festival called Michael Hearns big barn dance, okay. It will be his 20th year of doing it. And when he first started, he would have me come out and play it. He brought all the songwriters up and we do song swaps. Like you're talking about go? It'd be people now I mean, 20 years later, we hear some guy up there playing peaceful easy feeling. That tension you know is not the Eagles and people he wrote us on I thought the Eagles wrote as you know, it's like the songwriters kind of misses out sometimes yes. Because the big start or I thought Alabama wrote that No, he's got so Michael brings all these kind of unknown but well known songwriters lately, you know, and he's got rowdy crowd coming up this year and Gary Poe does it. DALE WATSON all kinds of music. That it's a barn dance a part of it's a concert for three days with people 2000 People sat down under a chant, nice PA and listen to show from noon until 10 or so. Just different sets of music, all kinds of stuff, you know, and the good stuff and kind of CURV al but, but even better, I think the people he brings in, it's like that's it I made him and I started doing that every year, I missed a couple of years. And over the years, we've just ended with him coming out here and playing. We played together, say times flying. When we put that quartet together with Mike and Doug, and I was like, maybe 2010. And you know, we, and we played together, start playing together, you know, Michael and I sure fight yesterday together.
Randy Hulsey 40:23
That's, uh, well, first of all, I don't know how you keep all these dates straight in your head because I, I'm the most horrible date person in the world. So if somebody says, What were you doing and 77 I'm like, I have no idea what I was doing and 77. So, kudos to you for remembering all these dates. But I was going to say that I didn't realize that that Michael and both Michael's Michael Murphy and Michael Hearn were associated, but I guess it makes sense because they're both New Mexico guys,
Shake Russell 40:53
right? Yeah. Both are now and Austin days to the cosmic cowboys. They were playing they were back in those days. That's when Gary P and Bob Livingston and John Inman were all the goblins. Oban and they were backing up. Jerry, Jeff and Murphy. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 41:10
Well, both Michael's are amazing songwriters. And I think that Michael Murphy probably is right up there with one of my favorite of all time of songwriters. I've listened to him for many years. And written some great songs. Sure, sure. Yeah, for sure. And still has a magnificent voice. I know that you you and Michael Hearn had written quite a bit together. And I was wondering if maybe you could share a song that that maybe you and Michael had
Shake Russell 41:41
ever had together. A song we wrote together called the girl just left Sudan. And it was brought about by you know, for the barn dance because everybody dances up there. They love to dance. Yes, you know, give them a band and they're dancing. But and Michael was saying did play a club there they will sagebrush and this young woman would come in and the first of the show and sit there and just start dancing from the first song with a different partner. It's about every song she wasn't looking for a husband or a boyfriend. She has loved to dance, and she was there to dance. So that's what sparked the song sparked a song from Michael. He told me about it and he and I Jimmy Stadler wrote a song Jimmy's a tremendous musician from up in Taos it plays with Michaels band southwest South Wales. He plays everything keyboard Mandolin and Guitar writes to we were amazing three of us wrote this song together
Randy Hulsey 42:31
awesome. So without further ado, I give the listeners shake Russell and the girl just left her dance right yeah
Shake Russell 42:37
all right awesome. Girl just left the dance stay at home too much she feels so much for oh man is so she wakes the home he tries he's not in her plan. Jesus loves Jesus loves his son. When music starts to play to slip away for the moment it's easy to see. Does love I have faith that eight to 10 Jesus loves music away everything she wants to see it's easy to see it's so easy to see Jess loves him she Vogons she wakes
Randy Hulsey 46:31
up thank you so much for sharing that song, shake i The song first of all has an amazing hook to it. And I guess I heard it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. And it was, I guess a show that you and Michael had played at the Centrum is where is where I heard it. So I'm glad that you chose that one because it was one that instantly resonated with me when I heard it for the first time. Thank you. Normally, when I interview a guest, I like to get into the details of the discography. I don't think I can do this with you, because we'll be sitting here until this time next year talking about this. But nonetheless, what a song catalog well over 30 albums, right? Do you know how many off the top of your head last year? So
Shake Russell 47:38
it was it was 30? But was a compilation? So don't they really count that? Okay, yeah,
Randy Hulsey 47:44
when you write that many songs, you're very prolific when you write that many songs. Does a songwriter or you specifically do you ever start to think or feel like some of the songs sound like other songs that I've written or other songs or somebody else know that you that you've written like you, you get down a path with maybe writing a song you're like, Well, wait a minute, that one sounds a little bit like the other because they kind of start overlapping? Is that a real thing for songwriters? Yeah,
Shake Russell 48:15
it is probably a couple of times. I've had that happen where I think that sounds a little bit like the other song. Yeah, it happens. Yeah, right all the time. But I mainly write you know, just have songs to play live in a song. Sure. Yeah. And to have a new CD out 10 new songs, you
Randy Hulsey 48:34
know, I'm sure. I'm going to assume the answer, but I'm not going to. I think I know the answer. I'm not going to assume it. But songwriting does it come easy for you? Or is it something that sometimes you get a writer's block and you even struggle with
Shake Russell 48:47
Oh, yeah, you bet you but it comes with a passion for me, you know, I love I've been doing so 16 As I write my first songs, and they really were very good. Sound like some very derivative of somebody else. As a Beatle song, they're okay. Birds are sure some I love to do and I'm glad I've been able to do for 50 years that people still come out want to hear my next song or whatever my old songs. You know, it's just I love putting it's like putting a puzzle together for me. When I'm working on a song and working on a work on mainly the words are the hardest part for me, and I'll edit and re edit those things up quite often. But when I get it finished, I love it. I feel like the puzzle has been put together and I'll try it out to an audience and you know, I've got that luxury of having an audience's yes sounding board to say I don't like that song are really cool.
Randy Hulsey 49:38
You're talking about D aren't you?
Shake Russell 49:41
First, see my dogs here and
Randy Hulsey 49:45
the dog approves then they go to D for hype Paul's. Well, 50 years I mean wow. 50 years of music. Are you still passionate about The writing portion, 5050 years into this game have
Shake Russell 50:03
ideas coming to me, you know, and thank goodness and I love working on those puzzles, you know, structure, finding the Lyric, the hook, then the music, sometimes all together at once, like somebody sent to, you know, you gotta love her song I wrote probably 20 minutes or so. And I didn't rewrite it. I just came out because I wanted to express it was the kind of songs I love, you know, they don't happen, often, while using them spending time rearranging words. And
Randy Hulsey 50:34
absolutely. And that's such an amazing thing that that great songwriters talk about, I've listened to. I'm kind of just a junkie when it comes to all the stories behind songs and great songs. But I've, I've heard so many artists say, you know, I heard Daryl Hall say it a bunch of times, you know, like, the song rich girl 10 minutes, just, it just comes to you. And it's like one of the biggest hits, you know, ever. And and I guess for the I guess for people that don't write music, that's that's a phenomenon. That's, that's crazy that people can come up. Yeah, how does it work like that. But I did want to ask you to give the listeners kind of a, a walk through maybe what a typical process is of writing a song for you specifically? Does it start with a melody? Or does it start with the music? Does it start with the words walk the listeners through what a typical song writing process would be for shake? rustle?
Shake Russell 51:33
Yeah, well, you know, it starts with an idea of something I've seen, or some I've heard, or read or something like that, with that sounds like a song, you know that. And I'll take it from Oh, you have a bunch of titles and nothing underneath them, you know. And that's the, that's Saturday, writing, I play my guitar all the time, kind of tape recorder and just kind of go zone out. And I come up with music, you know, the pieces of music that, I like that, let's say I want to work on that I want to work. And then when I'm putting together got Okay, I'm gonna write a song here about John Denver. So I got a I did all kinds of research, made more notes than I needed. But just really got to know John Denver, my subject of the song. That's what I do. Whenever I saw I do my homework, I do my research. Okay. When I wrote traveling, Texas, I was trying to find a perspective on am I going to write a travel log? Or what am I going to do here, you know, historical piece, or something, you know, and I was like, the book stop over an Alabama way back at six. And now was a magazine to Texas. And there was this one cover hell is located down there. I want to use but it's Texas to you kids. And it has oil, they'd have a water helmet hold Longhorns. And I thought that's what I want to get those images because I'm gonna childlike kind of thing you know. And so I wouldn't read and put things together. And then I start editing. Once I get a first draft of the words, then I go looking for the music. And when I'm lucky I they've come together, you know, the meter or the lyric will help me. I'm traveling Texas or any song. And the ones I can say that I love and blessings are the ones like you gotta love with it. They both come at the same time setting, playing this little thing. I got a title and offset. I'm feeling all this stuff. I want to get it out and towards. And I just laid out there. I love that I didn't have too often. But those are the best time for me. That Come quick. And and you have to spend days and weeks. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 53:41
So so it really starts with the lyrics for you have to have something
Shake Russell 53:45
to write about. Okay, like, you know, so I guess that title or something and then take that and start using your imagination and creating the story. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 53:53
It's interesting that you say that, because I've talked to others. And I asked them that very question songwriters. And a lot of times for them, it's a melody that they hear in their head and they it all starts with that melody, and then things get built around the melody, whereas you're the lyrical. You're the lyricist. And other things wrap around the lyrics for you. Generally, I'm sure that doesn't happen that way all the time. But as a general rule of thumb, that's that's generally the way it happens for you correct lurks first.
Shake Russell 54:21
And that actually, you know, when you're jamming out music I hear started with Alec that shuffle or I like that little finger picking thing there. I'll record it and keep it you know, and when I'm trying to work on my next project, I've tried all these different pieces of music, see which one works the best with it.
Randy Hulsey 54:38
Now, I noticed when you were playing a couple of the songs, you weren't using a pick. Now do you generally not use a pick at all are you i used
Shake Russell 54:47
to use it all time. You know, I played motivation with a band. I always had my pick. And then the COVID thing hit and I started doing a home zoom stuff you know and different zoom shows, I put Mo Mo Martin out which I didn't play too much because I favorite motivation because I just second nature to me. So I started playing the Martin and for a camera, you know, and I found out by doing that, and fingerpicking I could do more intricate little things that don't get in with the with the strawman. Okay, so, in the last year and a half, I've been doing a lot of finger picking. Yesterday I played Bernhardt with for peace. And I wound up breaking my pick out. Oh, did you use it be heard, you know? Sure. A larger configuration? Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 55:35
I guess the pick the pick would make that a little more pronounced. Right. Yeah. That's interesting. I never thought about that. I mean, of course I I'll do like when I do your song deep in the west at my shows, I Travis pick that I finger pick it. Yeah, don't use a pick for that. But then, you know, a lot of the other stuff that I do, I'm a pick the pickup and I'm picking along with song and yeah, yeah, sure. You know, I It's a treat for me to sit here and have you in the home studio recording. And I could sit and listen to the music all night. But I, you, you spoke about travel in Texas. And I'd like for you to share for some of the listeners that are not familiar with the song, first of all, and then the story behind the song, because it was written for a staple show here was writtings as
Shake Russell 56:23
it became part of the show, but it was written for the sister centennial celebration in 86. Channel two is doing a little video of people in places in Texas, and what they wanted music behind it. So my friend Bruce Brian, who's a patron of the arts for music, he did all these little shows and Live in Concert Series back in the late 70s and 80s. on channel two, he said, you know, we want a song and stuff like that went and found a perspective, I'd want to write it like a childlike kind of nursery rhyme. But something very iconic with my lines are talking about big things, you know, and about Texas that they can relate to. So I worked on it and played it for the first draft and Ron Stone said, can you get the Eyes of Texas in the line one of the lyrics somewhere? And I said well, yeah, sure. And I did. Not thinking much about and you gotta have that in a song about Texas, you know, the Eyes of Texas. But then if it ran its course with a video for a year on channel two, round pick it up for his TV show The Eyes of Texas. That's why you want to be with the eyes. It took us in the song. And it ran for 10 years every Saturday. It played my song and grow the show and out for the show. And it was great exposure. It's like radio Elizabeth 75. And I tell the story to God go out and play and he's Texas. I've never been before and nobody knew who I was or any of my songs. And somebody would come I don't know who you are. But I know that song Ron stones. Yeah, you know, the power of TV and Sure.
Randy Hulsey 57:56
Would you would you say that? Was it? The radio exposure or the TV exposure that was more helpful to your career? Or were they kind of one of they
Shake Russell 58:07
were hand in hand. Oh, really? Okay. Yeah, everything just like say the stars aligned. Everything was happening at the same time for me. Okay, I'm 76 Yeah, seven.
Randy Hulsey 58:15
Well, I remember I was a young kid when that show was on but I do remember the show and it was one that I always enjoyed watching because you got to know about different places in Texas, right? So would you mind play on that one for the listeners? That would be a Supertree
Shake Russell 58:31
I'd like to say though, also in a song. I tell the story too that I got the route in a rodeo parade on the float for channel two. Okay, and lipsync this song with Jack Saunders. We're at the front of the float and they had speakers playing that recording over and over and on a loop and we for about three hours we were just lip syncing challenge. By the end of it I was taking the lead breaks Jack was taking my vocals and
Randy Hulsey 58:58
had fun with it.
Shake Russell 59:00
Alright drama texts for the late great Roundstone. been writing for the hidden south to the valley in at all Spanish traveling tenses of a musty can never be Bluenose pan handle traveling Texas, the full moon and the sun traveller Texas Oh Have a maverick Southdown values to move in and out into space the Texas Santa hands say well you know, Texas means free will is the likes of Go? Having Texas
Randy Hulsey 1:01:20
Yeah, what a great song shake. I appreciate you sharing that with the listeners, I did want to talk briefly about some of the accolades and how great you are, right? Because I know you're not going to talk about yourself. So that's my job to do that. First of all, I guess the awards are, I mean, almost as extensive as the as the discography is, but I'll give the listeners the cliff notes here. Multiple Entertainer of the Year awards. A Founders Award Best New Song cowboy coffee, which I love by the way, it's always been one of my favorites that you've done multiple honors for vocal group of the year. Lifetime Achievement honors the married a legend over here you realize that right 2016 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame two time recipient of the millionaire award for I think it was for Clint blacks recordings right? You
Shake Russell 1:02:18
got a lover? I'm wondering for Put yourself in my shoes. Okay. And what?
Randy Hulsey 1:02:22
What is the it's in? It's not millionaire, like in millions of dollars, but it's million a ir what does that what does that mean?
Shake Russell 1:02:29
How many times or more they played the song on the radio? Okay, interesting. Okay. I wish it meant you.
Randy Hulsey 1:02:38
Right? No, not that paying the bills doesn't hurt anybody. I don't think now you are also a four time recipient of a BMI of the BMI writers awards. And I mean, shoot, I was just happy when I received a ribbon at church camp for participation. And I mean, you you've got all this stuff going on. Congratulations. I mean, what a what a great career. What do the accolades mean to you? As an artist, in your own words mean? Some people don't get too hung up on and they don't care? What what do they mean to shake? Russell? Well, I just
Shake Russell 1:03:12
to me, basically means that they remember me, they like what I'm doing. You know, and because a lot of people don't get an award, you know, and they write songs or live and cried, when you do something, and just like, it just tells you you're on the right track and makes you it makes you proud, you know that other people want to give you that recognition?
Randy Hulsey 1:03:33
Sure. Well, and I asked some other guys were here, sitting in the same place you're sitting and I asked them the same thing. They were there a, a tribute band for Ozzy Osbourne and top shelf guys, I mean, top shelf musicians, and they they pay homage to Ozzy in the greatest way. And they've won a lot of these awards. And I asked them kind of the same question. And they say, it's, it's a huge honor when your peers are the ones that are voting for you for these things. You know, critics can do that. But when your peers are doing it for you, it means so much more, it means that you're special to them. And I'm sure that you do. Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, you've written some songs that have become major hits for some big artists. And we talked a little bit about that. earlier. You You had one called you've got a lover that Ricky Skaggs did, and I think there's a you might have shared a story about that song. I heard once and I don't know if you have a story about it, how it climbed up the charts and yeah, and and then I was going to also ask you if you'd share that story with the listeners and then maybe share the song as well. That would be awesome.
Shake Russell 1:04:52
Yeah, well, the nutshell. That song was playing at curvo Folk Festival and Not I was playing and Peter roll on his plan. I found this out later from Ricky, because it's a how'd you get the song? He said, Well, Peter Roland brought it to me, he heard you play it. And he took it and rearranged it a little bit Ricky did modulated and all kinds of cool stuff, make it a more interesting song. And then, you know, he put it out now, my people heard me do it for 25 years or so, after I'd read it, I'll be like your version better. But you know, he took it to the top of the charts. And it was like, extremely exciting time. I buy a Billboard magazine, I really wouldn't buy it. I go in the bookstore and just the magazine section and kind of picking the country charts and see where it was this week. And we get you know, the Top 40 Top 20 Top 10 Top Five and I'm getting so excited. You know, my my mom says You really are a songwriter, you know, your songs on the radio is going five, four, and up to three up to two. You know, get the champagne ready to pop the cork when he hits number one, it goes number two, number two, number two, number two for about four or five weeks in a row. It was a number two, and I kept waiting and never then started going back down number four, number seven. And the number one song that whole summer was Islands in the Stream. Kenny and Dolly. And I always talk about I hate that song. Really
Randy Hulsey 1:06:17
a great song, but it's not your favorite. Right just for that. For that reason. We'll have a trivia question for you. Do you remember who wrote the song for Kenny and Dolly? Oh, yeah. You Gibbs? Yeah. Great song was some of the best Yeah, yeah. Big. Yeah. I love them. I do too. I'm a huge big fan and especially from the songwriting I saw a project he's doing with different people doing his songs. Okay, I want to see that oh, yeah, I'd love to see that that'll be a trumpet I knew I was in the stream Yeah, if you would share that one with the listeners a little live version of that song that would be super awesome yeah VIP kid. You gotta love it is a true story clubs they're all clothes no place to go and watch over our dreams ever all empty. Love is asleep dreamin of each God love he can come in Blanca can there will be others as well they love all these heartbroken lovers when the song seems sad it just backs it you try to love him it's not me you can you can there will be others as well they love know I was hoping that we'll line it we'll see the caller hello to the logging phone can't love you like there will be others as well they love You can love you like this Oh, they love me nicely done there shake. I enjoyed that. Hopefully the listeners enjoyed that as well. You know we were talking about hit songs that you'd written for other people earlier we talked a little bit about Put yourself in my shoes and one more payment by Clint Black, of course. I think there was you. You wouldn't know me by Miranda Lambert just recently. Yeah. And was there Wayland deep in the West? Yes. Carolyn Don Johnson did one of the songs didn't share with clan. Okay, what kind of love? Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. Talk to the listeners. A little bit about what's new and exciting coming up from the shake Russell camp. And you know what, what you can share with us?
Shake Russell 1:11:11
Oh, you bet. I am. The latest thing I've been working on. Since the first of the year is a new song I just co written with Steve McGrew, Steven grooves comedian. I met him on Facebook. And he reached out to me last summer and said, You know, I went to school at High School in Houston. I used to come here, you and Dana play and on my bucket list is to write a song with you know, so Well, we won't know till we try what he you know, what you want to write about? He goes, Wow, just this morning that he goes in the world is so messed up right now. You know. And back in the old days, when I was in high school, and we listened to John Denver, he has such a positive voice for the world, you know, and I really miss him. And we need somebody like that. Now we need more of that going on in this world today. So let's write it you know. And so that was the genesis of it. And I worked on it for six months, found out more about I always loved John Denver, but I didn't know all that much about him. I found out how he's the worldwide you know, the love that people have fan clubs all over the world, and start listening more closely to his music, just to get a vibe and idea. Because Steve, the CO writer said What a start a song with that Rocky Mountain High kind of thing. You know, riff. Let's use that to start the song. So let's learn how to play that riff and as a facsimile of the riff and took it from there and musically, and kind of put some of John Denver's kind of sounds in my mind and I hear the kind of song he would write that to me. I got it finished. I made a little Facebook video to send a Steve thinking he was only going to Steve. So see, to let him know this is what the songs that you know, it's my first draft of the song. What do you think? And I didn't know he's going live. I was in my backyard playing it on the patio of sudden all these hearts are popping up and people are saying we love this song we love John. Oh say we love this. I go okay, you know and as a good sign, you know? Yeah, but Steve he heard it and played a phrase friend John Macy who's a big, big producers produced is the thing that guy clogher tribute album to Guy Clark. All these people singing the song we actually done dirt band. He's done. Los Lobos a bunch of different acts. I can't think of all of them. He liked to hear the songs all want to produce a song. I got to produces them as a really, ABC goes yeah, man. He loves it. He is you want to do it. Yeah. And so I gave him that demo. I'm in the backyard just flipping through it. And he did a chart on it and put down bardenas guitar player Chris Lawson Drew's plays a Garth Brooks and he plays on a lot of studio stuff. He laid down His two acoustic tracks of the arrangement. And now back in February Dee and I went down to John Macy also has a home in number Rockport. Okay, texture. Fulton Beach is a studio in his home there. So I drove down there, we drove down there and put a vocal on the two guitar tracks. He has since taken it back. I've only seen on video. And he had our bass player come in. Find studio bass player and percussionist. He plays pedal steel. John Macey, does it okay, he played with Murphy for a long, long time. And it's just one of the guy he's a musician. You know, he's not isn't where he's his achievements on his sleeve at all. It's one of the guys you very easy to talk to. No and he. Anyway, so they're working on now. Once he puts the pedal steel part on, it'll be finished and will then start. They've already had you caught. They've gotten hold of the eye. John Denver his wife has fent found that she heads foundation to see if they'd want to take the song and promote it on their website and I sure tribute to John Denver so as hopefully that's what's going to happen once we get it finished though they'll pick it up and want to help promote it. And then if I'm lucky, some big shot you know, who knows who might hear go man, that's a good song. I want to I want to do that song and have a hit with it. But
Randy Hulsey 1:15:29
how does that work? You you write a song of such and how do you get it exposed into the the the performer community for them to pick it up?
Shake Russell 1:15:40
When you get to know somebody? John Macy is very well connected, and they're all kinds of performers. And you need somebody like that, you know, no other way I've never had I've never had that really connection to somebody go all my take your songs and really pitching to these guys. But John has that connection. And he's he likes the song so much. I think we'll get finished with it. He's gonna sign a monster recording production, you know, and who knows might happen to it. But we'll keep our fingers crossed on that right? Yeah. But if you're young songwriter someone you do a song you want to get to George Strait as somebody you probably know. You have to have somebody to represent you or just gets in the outbound, you know, with Waylon, that's what happened. You know, the lady that was his secretary office manager, Mary Lou Hyatt. She was married to Walter high up from Cobalts band. I knew her from Austin and in the 70s She was a friend and she got that job with Waylon and she always loved deep in the West. So she she had a tape and put it in wetlands box listen to because and one day, she said that when he came in a willing said he I came in I said, I need a ballot. You know, I didn't finish my album of I need a ballot. She goes well, what about that song deep in the West is deep and what you're gonna hear song called Deep in the West. Because yeah, I gave it to you. So she went over and found it in the outbox and played it for him again, and he I'm gonna second listen. Oh, yeah, I want to do that song. While so that's it was pretty cool. Just have Jesse Coulter. And yeah, he and Jesse 10 years later, he puts it out again with Jesse called his wife, Megan, and duet out of it by a little video of it. So I was completely unexpected. I didn't. I knew the first version he did by himself was going to happen. But 10 years later, I'm out walking my dog. So I called him says, hey, you know, he's putting out again on another record. And he's got his wife singing with him. Yeah. Wow. Cool.
Randy Hulsey 1:17:38
I learned some something interesting. I was talking to fi Waibel, the lead singer of a band called the tubes from the 80s. They were had, they had some smash hits on MTV back in the day. And we were talking about people that write songs, and then other artists that record them. And I was always under the impression that, for example, if you record a deep in the West, I would have to get rights from you to record that. But it's my understanding that I don't need rights to record the song. But if there's I guess the songwriter makes the royalties off of that not the performer that does, am I probably not saying it quite right.
Shake Russell 1:18:28
I guess the mechanicals part of that whatever his contract is mechanicals of sales, you know, but the songwriters. The singer unless he has his Elvis for somebody who doesn't get a part of that.
Randy Hulsey 1:18:39
Yeah. So is it every time deep in the West is played by Waylon, you get you get mailbox that comes in on eBay. Okay. Okay. Quarters, so I get it. Okay. Yeah. Different songs. Yeah. And I had some buddies talking the other day about, you know, the royalty or the checks that they get from their listeners on Spotify. And they said, you know, maybe yeah, maybe I could buy a cheeseburger from time to time was about what it amounts to. Yeah, no, not at all. Not at all. But so we talked about that. I guess I badgered you all evening about playing songs live and you've been gracious enough to do that but can you play the the one song that you were talking about the John Denver? Yeah, the tribute thing? Yeah, that'd be great. Thank you you ever
Shake Russell 1:19:44
done my high school day has always lifted me jet plane took me away. Era poems and prayers and promises. Everything and reach all that we believing and practice why John Perry? I'm trapped here in the city. I probably be here when I look holla See, tall buildings block the sky. I'm worried about the future. Yeah, the world is getting rough. Here's songs on the radio. Always turn I want to go back to the mountain Rocky Mountain High in a cabin on a hill, my sweet lady by my side scenes guys and dance and water. cascading waterfall. I want to see what he saw when I hear his song every time I hit play rather than Colorado feather. Oh, it's kind of country roads. Take me home. Or I can lay my head sunshine on my shoulders. And a song for me to feel so good to be back home with us. Turned on off your TV and thought just blow it up. Every time I've turned it home. I don't know who to trust. And I'm worried about the future. We're always getting rough. When I hear this song on the radio always turn on or go back to the mountain hotel Rocky Mountain in a cabin on a hill, Masai live I'm my son saying singing skies and dance and water cascading waterfall on a sea or wherever every time I hear a song every time I hear
Randy Hulsey 1:23:27
that was a a wonderful tribute to John Denver. And as you went through that song, I kind of got this this welling up in my eyes a little bit because he was such I mean, John was so inspirational to me as an artist. I don't think he ever wrote a bad song. And they were always, like you mentioned earlier always songs of happiness and encouragement and stuff that you we don't hear that much anymore. You know what I mean? That those days seem to be long gone in the past, the happy the happy stuff, you know, and what an untimely death. You know, it's been what, 20 some odd years now. It's time just goes by. It's amazing, you know, and a lot of the songs that you mentioned, and there are songs that that shaped me as a musician, you know, so I'm sure that they did the same for you or you wouldn't have written such a song voice. Yeah. Or it was so clear. And yeah, and had an amazing voice too. I think I saw a video of him and Johnny Cash doing a duet before and it was nice to hear the nice baritone voice of Johnny and then the nice tenor voice of of John, they just they went really well together. Where can the listeners find you on social media? If they want to buy music? Find out about shows news merchandise, where can they find you?
Shake Russell 1:24:52
Yeah, well, I have my own web page I've had for a long time take russell.com But also we're on Facebook. And it's we do a lot of Communication on Facebook. Okay.
Randy Hulsey 1:25:01
Yeah, you do much with Instagram at all or not really? Now,
Shake Russell 1:25:06
um, takes care of my business. I'm not really sure. Okay. I don't think we do on Instagram. Okay.
Randy Hulsey 1:25:13
So, shake russell.com is okay.
Shake Russell 1:25:17
My music is available on CD Baby, they handle a lot of my stuff. Okay, my catalogue.
Randy Hulsey 1:25:21
Okay, perfect. A couple of couple of just a column quickfire questions, but just simple answers. You don't have to elaborate any on any one of them. But from your perspective, favorite song writer of all time for you all time. Yeah, my goodness. I know. That's tough being a songwriter. But there's one stick out in your head. Well,
Shake Russell 1:25:41
you know, the obvious one for me. My influence is Paul McCartney. I mean, good Paul McCartney. Sure. Right. All kinds of songs. And I always loved that about Beatles because they would do one song a sound completely different from the next and any genre, you know. So he's, you know, he's easy pick. Yeah, but I love Jimmy Webb. And Jimmy was one of my favorite composers. As Robbie Robertson. You know, Van Morrison. Oh, God, of course. Dylan, you know, although folky guys Tim Hagen has a bunch of them that were big influences.
Randy Hulsey 1:26:18
Were you ever a big? Like a John Sebastian or Harold shape and fan like
Shake Russell 1:26:23
bastion for sure. Yeah. Yeah. I used to play some of his songs. Yeah. Yeah. I liked I liked his style. And his voice. Yeah, songwriting. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 1:26:31
Interesting. And then the last one that I really have for you is, what advice would Sheikh Russell give to an up and coming musician that really wanted to make music they're living like, that's how they wanted to pay their mortgage. What what advice, would you as a guy that's been around a long time and very established songwriter, very respected songwriter, what advice would you give them, or
Shake Russell 1:27:00
just to be persistent and to, you know, to do a few writing songs, ride, I mean, if they're not that good, keep writing, the more you write, the better, the good. Just don't give up. If it's a passion, you won't give up. Something else comes on in your life, you can't do it any longer, you'll move on. But musicians, you know, you got to find? Well, I don't know, you just have to find a way to get it out there. And back in the old days is much harder nowadays with the internet and Facebook and YouTube. If you got something really good, and you get it out there to the masses, you'll get 10 million hits or something you know, and you're a star all of a sudden, yes, people want you to sign you up, you can start your own thing. You don't need a label on an hour. Now if you got something really good that's unique and catchy. Use the tools to get it out there you know, and just don't be discouraged. You know, when it's hard not to be sometimes, but you have to dedicate your life to it. And just keep at it. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 1:28:03
Great advice from the Master Shake. Russell, thanks so much for taking the time to come to the studio shake. I know that you stay busy. I've loved the music over the years keep keep writing that music. Again. Thank you for being here. D thank you for taking the time to to join shake here. It was nice to meet you. I ask the listeners to like, share and subscribe to the podcast. Also, don't forget to follow Sheikh on all of his social media platforms, including Facebook and shake russell.com. I want to thank you guys again for tuning in. And as a reminder, you can find the show on Facebook at backstage pass radio podcast on Instagram at backstage pass radio Witter at backstage pass PC, and on the website at backstage pass. radio.com You guys stay safe and healthy. And thank you again for tuning in to Backstage Pass radio.
Adam Gordon 1:28:56
Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed today's episode of backstage pass radio. Make sure to follow Randy on Facebook and Instagram at Randy Halsey music and on Twitter at our Halsey music. Also, make sure to like, subscribe and turn on alerts for upcoming podcasts. If you enjoyed the podcast, make sure to share the link with a friend and tell them backstage pass radio is the best show on the web for everything music. We'll see you next time right here on backstage pass radio