very much into the roots of Muscle Shoals, artists such as Tony Joe White, Eddie Hinton,
Donnie Fritts, Dan Penn, and Johnny Wyker. I still have a Southern Rock side that
appreciates the contributions of The Allman Brothers (very proud of my work with Johnny
Neel), Blackfoot and Skynyrd."
Russell Gulley in His Own Words
I was born in Rome, Ga. to blue collar workers. Mom worked in the cotton mills and dad was
in the forrestry service till they returned to Fort Payne, Al., moms hometown in the
early 50s, so Fort Payne is where I grew up. Most of my life I spent here, till I
moved to Muscle Shoals after my Vietnam Experience and stayed there some 13 years working
with Jackson Highway, the band produced by Jimmy Johnson and David Hood for Capitol
Records in 1980.
Early on I loved music. Listened a lot to the radio in my dads car late at night
when I could pick up WCKY (Cincinnati, Ohio) and WLAC in Nashville. Those stations
featured a lot of blues and were my study guide.
I couldnt afford records but that radio and local deejays (such as Jeff Cook of the
group, Alabama) were my music instructors, plus the choir at the local Pentecostal Church.
|The church was where I
realized that I had something in common with early rock and rollers, Jerry Lee Lewis and
Elvis, they were Pentecostals. That fervor and shout was the fire that the early
rockabillies had in secular music that attracted me to that style early on, then as I
realized the music was really jumped up blues, then I began to be a real fan
of all the Sun Record artists, and even more so of the founder himself, Sam Phillips
With the release of his new CD, Back to the Swamp, Muscle Shoals music veteran, Russell
Gulley revitalizes his recording career after a silence of more than two decades. His last
release was in 1981 on MSS / Capitol Records with the Shoals-based Southern rock band,
Jackson Highway, and his current one is a return to the roots of the music that has always
influenced him most - a funky mix of Americana, blending blues, rock, country and gospel.
Recording Back to the Swamp has reunited Russell
with two former bandmates: his brother, Dennis Gulley, and Tommy Patterson. Together with
Patterson on harp and Dennis on guitar (and as producer), Back to the Swamp is like a long
awaited family reunion. Rounding out the sessions are guest performances by former Allman
Brothers Band member Johnny Neel, Chris Anderson of The Outlaws and Blackhawk, Shane
Sutton with the Gary Allen Band, and other members of the Straight Up Sound Recording
family in Nashville.
All of the songs on the Back to the Swamp
CD are either originals or have been chosen for their connection to the Shoals Tradition.
Several are autobiographical, such as the title track, "Back to the Swamp",
along with an acoustical remake of "Piece of Good Earth", the first single
released by Jackson Highway on the MSS label in 1977. One other title, "The Gospel
According to the Blues", is an a cappella performance that deals with intercultural
influences as experienced by Russell as a young boy on the streets in his hometown of Fort
Payne, Alabama. There he saw the Blues personified in the town's legendary street sweeper,