Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Russo bringing Bargain Scotch to Concert on Lawn

(Aug. 6, 2015) Fresh from several summer shows opening for national acts such as J Roddy Walston and the Business and Trombone Shorty, local singer songwriter Bryan Russo is shifting gears and planning an intimate set on the lawn of the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum in Berlin on Sunday, Aug. 9.
The free concert, which starts at 5 p.m., is part of the museum’s ongoing Concerts on the Lawn series.
Rather than bring his big, raucous blues-rock band, the Tragic Figures, Russo said he plans to tone it town and dig into the roots of American music with his side band Bryan Russo and Bargain Scotch.
“This band is more like old blues, vintage jazz and ’30s and ’40s swing music,” he said. “I think, with the resurgence of bluegrass and old-time music, I’ve been finding myself spending a ton of time with old soul records, jazz, big band, and even old country records.”
Russo cited a Jerry Lee Lewis country album as a major influence on the group.
“It’s really not one of his hits, but it’s brilliant,” he said. “It’s really simplistic, it’s got a lot of movement to it in the changes and it’s just fun music.”
A former NPR journalist, Russo described his songwriting as “taking really heavy subjects and putting them into catchy tunes.”
“I think too many times lyrics get thrown away,” he said. “Songwriting that’s all about the backbeat is like going to a restaurant and writing a review and only ordering soup. Give it a chance.
“We’re sort of in a time right now when electronic dance music is just disco,” Russo continued. “There’s music for the body and for shaking it, and then there’s music for the head, which makes you think. You have that sort of juxtaposition where you have bands that play real instruments and are writing real songs, and then you have bands that are just lighting it up and burning it down and shaking it out and staying up all night.”
Russo is aiming for an audience of the former, although he insists the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. The majority of the program the songwriter is bringing to the show will be original music, he said, although don’t be surprised if a few old standards show up in the set list.
“It’s a short set, but I’ll probably throw in a couple old standard tunes that I really like,” he said. “I’ve been doing this old Buck Owens tune that Ray Charles made famous that I really like. That song’s just three chords and the truth, you know?
“Taking everything that’s old and making it new again, I think, is something bluegrass has done really well,” Russo added. “I think old soul music and swing music can come back around too and remind people how fun it is to just dance. You don’t have to just dance to frivolous crap. You can shake it and think at the same time.”
Russo is also in the early stages of developing a documentary on Charles Albert Tindley, a man often called the “grandfather of gospel music,” who was born in Berlin.
“What I did as a journalist for many years, even though I don’t think I’ll be getting back into the corporate journalism world, I still want to do things for the community and I want to tie in art and history and entertainment.
“I think that’s what Berlin is – an arts and entertainment district that’s rooted in history. With my background, I don’t have to just be the singing and dance man. I think I can tell some stories as a journalistic storyteller as well as a sonic storyteller.
“I’m looking at different ways I can celebrate the history of the area and celebrate people coming together and having a good time,” he added. “I think these things they do at the Taylor House museum are really cool and I was really happy to be asked. Berlin has a good thing going.”
For more information, visit