Russell James Pyle
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Russell James Pyle

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Established on Jan, 2007
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Russell James Pyle, April Song"

“April Song”, the first track off of Russell James Pyle’s upcoming Seasons EP, opens with a bright, crisp guitar as fresh as a Spring morning, but as bronze as falling Autumn leaves. From there, a wave of instrumentation quickly washes over the tune, pulling the listener along on its blue and gold river of Americana. As the song dreamily floats on, Pyle’s full, emotive vocals tell a tale of, according to the performer himself, “new beginnings, fresh starts, and early morning drives with the one you love that refuse to be ruined by rain.”

The idea of rain far from ruins “April Song” and instead enhances it as an outro of a wall of white noise evokes the roaring winds of a rainstorm. There is an intimacy and familiarity to Pyle’s lyrics that give “April Song” an honest vibrance matched only by the rowdy folk music that accompanies them. As sure as dew forms on fresh green grass while car radios play bluegrass and Hornsby, Russell James Pyle’s “April Song” will act as a perfect accompaniment to love no matter the season. - Impose Magazine

"Big Bend Invites Songwriter to Reside"

Albuquerque songwriter Russell James Pyle has been accepted for a National Parks Arts Foundation artist residency at Big Bend National Park in Texas. Pyle will be staying in Big Bend for November, writing songs inspired by the environment of the park.
Pyle was granted the honor from among more than 100 applicants.

How do you feel about getting this artist residency?

“I was actually pretty shocked that I got picked, to be honest. I go to a lot of national parks and I’ve always seen these artist residents, and I was like, ‘man, I wonder if you could do that as a songwriter?’ And one day in June I just started digging around on the internet and I realized that you can apply for them, so I did.”

How are you preparing for the residency?
“This is what I do for a living. I’m a songwriter, so it’s kind of nice to think that I’ll be able to just go do that, and so the preparation I’ve done is less with the music stuff and more with the land, you know? Big Bend area truly was remote, and it’s kind of a harsh and unforgiving environment. I’m really looking forward to that. Although, I did just get in the mail yesterday – a friend of mine gave me a ukulele to take with me on backpacking trips during the month, and as far as musically preparing I guess I picked that up and learned how to play it.”

Is the ukulele the only piece of equipment you’re bringing with you?

“No, I’m going to bring everything I’ve got: I’m going to bring my keys, my guitars, all of my recording equipment – which is not a whole lot. I’m going to bring all the musical equipment I have because I figure, why not? I’ll be there for a month; I don’t want to get stuck on the same thing.”

Is this process going to be similar to that of indie band Bon Iver’s first album, where it was made in isolation?

“I hope so! I really plan to spend a lot of time in the primitive areas of the park. Although I’ll have a living space, I’m hoping to spend half of my nights outside. I’ll be doing a lot of field recording of just the landscape, and then adding that to other stuff that I do, stuff that I write. I plan to do a lot of it out in the middle of nowhere, under the stars. I think it’ll be really cool.”

Russell James Pyle will be playing a send-off concert at Low Spirits on Oct. 29 with Silver String Band and Sage Herrington. His EP “Seasons” will be released on Dec. 9. - Albuquerque Free Press

"Show Up! Russell James Pyle + Eventide"

Russell James Pyle fairly represents the future of popular music in America. With a sound that is all at once palatably folkish yet resonating with intense emotional explorations and intricate guitar and vibrato-laced vocal rejoinders, Pyle's work has grown immensely in the past year—since he began to work on his own oeuvre. Pyle's debut album, Rise, is filled with an intimate sense of struggle and success that plays out with magnificent melodies and honest instrumentation. He'll be gigging at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Saturday, Oct. 29.

A former member and founder of the storied and influential Albuquerque Americana band the Porter Draw, Pyle puts a heaping helping of heart into his solo excursions; much like another notable folkster gone electric, his sound seems magically amplified and awesomely eclectic when backed by a band of competent sidemen. In this case the backing band is Dry Heat and the result is a river-deep demonstration of where rock and roll can go given the proper attention to gravitas and uplifting intentions. The Silver String Band and Sage Harrington provide support for a 21+ gig that goes off at 9pm and allows the indulgence of listeners for a mere Lincoln. - Alibi Weekly

"Interview: Russell James Pyle"

Hi Russell, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Pretty good. I’m quite busy preparing for my month at Big Bend National Park. I’m spending a lot of time making lists of things so I don’t forget them. It’s a pretty remote area and I won’t have much chance to get out of there once I’ve arrived.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “April Song“?

I wrote that song last spring on a gloomy April morning. New Mexico doesn’t hold much gloom; even when it rains the sun is shining through the clouds and outlining the raindrops as they hit the ground. It’s wonderful. There’s a road called Rio Grande in Albuquerque and it winds along the Bosque, or the banks of the Rio Grande, into the North Valley. My wife and I love to make that drive in the mornings or at dusk when spring is at its peak. This song is about that feeling I get just thinking about those moments with her, listening to great music and laughing and smelling the air.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Not really. It’s an amalgam of experiences that I’ve had witnessing springtime in this amazing state. My previous answer explains it better.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Absolutely. The video is done – it’s a found-footage video and it was a lot of fun to make. I think it is a good visual companion to the song.

The single comes off your new EP Seasons – what’s the story behind the title?

SEASONS EP is a collection of my “month” songs. I like to joke that I’m not too creative with my song titles, and that’s evident with this collection. I wrote each song in the corresponding month. April Song is meant to capture the feeling of a crisp morning; the other songs are meant to capture the moments those months have inspired. It’s definitely a concept EP, but not something I really planned. I liked the idea of being inspired by the change of the seasons, and the differences in my experiences based on what the month is like.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote April song in late April this year and took the time to let it grow into itself while I was on the road. Playing it live throughout the summer allowed me to get the dynamic figured out, and I went into Frogville Studio in Santa Fe with producer Bill Palmer mid-August. We completed the track ourselves and really went for a dream-pop feel. I’ve been quite inspired by a lot of the late 80’s/90’s shoegaze bands and Bill really tapped into that. Frogville is a great place and Bill has set up a huge analog rack collection. He really shaped the sound and captured the mood and feeling perfectly. There are like, 4 plug-ins on that track. Everything else is old school. I love it.

What seasons get to inspire lyrics on this record and what aspects of each did you get to explore?

There are songs representing each season on this record and there wasn’t much deliberation on where to throw my focus. Some songs come quickly; some take time to flesh out. All of these songs came quickly, their inspiration hitting very much in the moment. The names of the songs reflect when I wrote them before anything else. I’d like to write some more “month” songs, but I’m going to let them happen to me. Maybe a SEASONS 2 EP is coming some day.

I think the most interesting track on the album is August Wind, which I wrote while on tour in Colorado. Musically, it’s the simplest on the album. Lyrically, it’s the most complex. There are a lot of layers to that song: personal, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and it’s all very vague within the content. That was a really fun song to write and it means an awful lot to me. I look forward to getting feedback on it.

How do you feel about being the centennial artist for the Big Bend National Park?

Oh wow! What an honor. I’m absolutely humbled by the selection and I honestly didn’t see it coming. I can’t wait to get down there and absorb the land. What does it have in store for me? What changes lie ahead? Where will it take me? All of these questions are quite exciting to think about. My expectations are tempered, as they always should be, but I allow myself some pretty elaborate daydreams at least 5 times a day.

Man, I am a national park geek for sure. One look at my Instagram (@russelljamespyle) and you can see that. I’ve been to over 30 national parks and monuments this year alone. I’m proud that the National Park Service is celebrating their centennial and can’t believe that I get to participate in this monumental year.

Conservation of our public lands is vital to our survival. This is a message that is close to my heart. When we see what is happening at Standing Rock, and the how the Trans-Pecos Pipeline is destroying the landscape in Big Bend, we have to understand that it is not happening miles away, it is happening to us. There is no duality between humans and the natural world: we are part of it. That which happens to the land, happens to us.

Any plans to hit the road?

Always. In December I will be heading across the Midwest and playing a few dates on the East Coast before heading south and recording my next project in Birmingham. I’ll take a couple months off late-winter and hibernate in Albuquerque before hitting the west coast all of April. And of course there’s always the summer tour. 2017 is going to be another busy year. You can track me on the Bandsintown app.

What else is happening next in Russell James Pyle’s world?

Wow, how much else could be happening? I know that I’m gearing up for a really busy run over the next 3 months, so I’m just treasuring the time at home with my wife and our two dogs. I’m looing forward to writing more on mental health for The Mighty and my own blog The River’s Bend. My wife and I will be working on a book about mental health and marriage eventually, so hopefully that will get started soon as well. Big Bend is giving me an opportunity to explore all of these creative avenues, so we’ll see which one gets the most focus. After the music, of course. - Vents Magazine

"Russell James Pyle Releases New Single"

Folk singer-songwriter Russell James Pyle is embracing his love of nature leading up to the release of his passionate ‘Seasons’ EP in December. Having been selected by National Parks Arts Foundation as one of two centennial artists-in-resident at Big Bend National Park, Russell is celebrating the honor through releasing his charming “April Song.” Though it’s named after the month of April, the tone of this song embodies the warmth and comfort of hot apple cider, making it perfect for the transition into fall.

“This is the first single from a sequence of songs reflecting certain times of the year. April is new beginnings, fresh starts, and early morning drives with the one you love that refuse to be ruined by rain. We should refuse to let any type of rain ruin us.” – Russell James Pyle - Vents Magazine

"Show Up!"

Russell James Pyle has been gigging all over the damned country, rising up through the ranks, as it were, as he establishes himself as a singular and substantive voice in the realm of American music. Pyle's rough-hewn voice, twangy guitar-picking tendencies and southern-fried musical arrangements are plaintive and authentic; he's got that Levon Helm and the Band or Dylan as John Wesley Harding sound down, but adds to it with his own vision of life and longing. - Alibi

"Singer-songwriter confronts personal issues on new album"

Russell James Pyle is getting personal – finally.
The singer-songwriter has stepped away from Albuquerque-based The Porter Draw and released his solo album, “Rise.”

And the album tackles a lot of personal issues.

“I struggle with mental health, and I’ve been locked in a deep battle with depression since I was a child,” he says. “Over the past year, I think my writing ability got to the point where I could go introspective with it. I wanted to be proactive in discussing the issues. It’s important to those that struggled with mental health know that we’re not alone in our fight.”

Russell James Pyle
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 9
WHERE: Marble Brewery, 111 Marble NW
Pyle wrote the majority of the album from September to January.

And it took one weekend to record at Frogville Studios in Santa Fe. He will perform at Marble Brewery on Thursday, June 9, and will be part of the Albuquerque Folk Festival on Saturday, June 4, at Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

“There was a very cool vibe to the recording session,” he says. “I felt like it really captured the essence of the album.”

Pyle has been on a multiple-week tour across the country.

He released his album on May 24, and he has seen plenty of people show up to his shows based on his message of mental health.

“It’s been a very interesting road, and I’m getting more questions about mental health issues,” he says. “I’ve had people come up to me and say they read the press I did about mental health and depression. The conversations have been really fulfilling.”

Along with tackling some personal issues in his songs, Pyle has also stripped away his security blanket he found in The Porter Draw.

“It’s a little more nerve-wracking, because The Porter Draw are my closest friends and when they are on stage with me, it’s security,” he says. “I’m very shy and introverted. With the band, it’s easier to turn on my extroversion. When I’m by myself, it’s difficult to do it as easy. It’s been a good transition so far.” - Albuquerque Journal

"Singer-songwriter returns home"

An 11-year-old Russell James Pyle discovered a ukulele while rooting through his parents’ attic.

The instrument belonged to his great-grandfather and was missing one of its nylon strings. Pyle pulled some line off of his fishing rod and strung it in this missing string’s place.

His grandfather, John Pyle, was a jazz musician in the 1940s and ’50s. His dad played trumpet, and his mom is an accomplished classical pianist. He was, as he puts it, forced to try playing both of his parents’ instruments. He hated them both.

But something happened when he found and fixed up that ukulele.

“I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Pyle says.

Pyle, a Lancaster native who now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will return to Lancaster for the first time in three years this week to play two shows — one at Wacker Brewing Co., the other at the Rabbit & the Dragonfly. After enjoying considerable success as a guitar player and vocalist with the Albuquerque band the Porter Draw, Pyle will release his first solo album, “Rise,” on May 24.

Pyle grew up on Hilton Drive near Price Elementary School before moving to Jamestown Court, off Willow Street Pike. He and his parents then moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, but he returned to Lancaster to attend and board at Lancaster Mennonite High School.

He moved back to Lancaster after attending college in Kansas and Virginia until he felt it was time to explore a new place. He says in the mid-2000s, Lancaster just didn’t have the country music scene he desired.

“I came out to New Mexico in the fall of 2005 and just fell in love with the area and the landscape,” Pyle says. “I wanted to make a change in my life, and I wanted to pursue music.”

Pyle also worked as a psychotherapist until last summer.

“That is a tough gig,” Pyle says. “It really burned me out. I struggle myself with mental health. Last June, my wife and I made the decision that it was time for me to leave that profession and pursue music full time.”

Pyle says rising above his struggle with depression inspired many songs on “Rise,” hence the title.

“It’s about rising,” Pyle says. “It’s not about sinking. It feels good to sing those songs, and I’m excited that I’m writing more of those types of songs.”

The music has a notably more demure, folk sound compared to what Pyle describes as the raucous, “aggressive Americana” he played with the Porter Draw. The way he wrote the songs is different, too.

“I think the big difference of this record and the stuff I did in the past is the majority of this record is coming from a very introspective place,” Pyle says. “It’s coming from a year of a very difficult struggle with my depression and how I’m learning to deal with it day to day.”

“Well Met,” one of the songs on “Rise,” was inspired by Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” book series. Pyle was struck with inspiration in the middle of the night, typing the lyrics as he sang them out loud. He then went to a corner of his house opposite of the bedroom to quickly record the song on guitar without disturbing his sleeping wife.

He was really excited about the song at first, and while he now thinks there are better songs on the album, it still is special to him because of how his mom reacted to it.

“I sent that song to my mother,” Pyle says. “She’s the one that got me into reading and literature. She emailed me back. She listened to it at work and said she was balling her eyes out. She said it was the most beautiful thing I had ever done. Regardless of what I think, that reaction makes it an amazing song.”

Songwriting is a daily regimen for Pyle. In years past, he almost exclusively waited for inspiration to strike. After a singer-songwriter encouraged him to write a song every day, he soon found he was producing three to four daily.

“I’ve learned over the past year that there’s another way to write songs — it’s to (sit down) and put the work in and do it every day,” Pyle says. “You’re going to write a bunch of songs, and maybe half of them are crap, but you still have half of those songs that are great.”

Aside from playing shows, Pyle hopes to do some fly-fishing during his four or five days in Lancaster, and plans to spend time with friends and Lancaster singer-songwriters Mindy Nolt and Jared Hankee.

He hopes to get his fill of Long’s horseradish and Turkey Hill iced tea while he’s here, too.

“I miss it,” Pyle says. “I miss my friends. I have a very special place in my heart for Lancaster.” - Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

"Russell James Pyle explores the seasons with Americana tune "December Song""

Inspired by struggle, triumph, the natural world, and spoken with a sincerity that touches deep, Russell James Pyle’s songwriting is deeply intertwined with the nuances of life in America. Pyle is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is influenced as much by Bruce Springsteen as red dirt country. His music blends heart and hand as he spins tales of experience and honest introspection, and his performances, whether solo or with his backup band, Dry Heat, are passionate, energetic, and delivered with his trademark vibrato rasp.

Russell’s debut solo album, Rise, deals with the complicated issues found in modern life, highlighting the struggle and triumph that accompanies life in America. The album’s aesthetic is equally influenced by roots music and modern ambient compositions, resulting in a uniquely post-modern take on the genre. In 2016, Russell has been selected by the National Parks Arts Foundation as the centennial artist-in-residence for Big Bend National Park in Texas while he works up to the release of his Seasons EP, which is due out on December 9th.

Today Glide Magazine is presenting an exclusive premiere of one of the standout tracks on Seasons, “December Song”. The acoustically picked song features puts Pyle’s vocal strengths front and center, with his band adding the occasional flourish of electric guitar, drums, and harmonies. There is a respectable restraint in the way he crafts his striking Americana sound and it’s clear that the lyrics come first.

“‘December Song’ is about the end of a bad year. It’s about learning to live with and eventually love the life you’re given,” explains Russell. “Winter is a hard time for me; I much prefer the warmer seasons. But if I can learn to love the difficult things in my life, they wouldn’t hold so much power over me.” - Glide Magazine

"Off the Stage: Russell James Pyle"

For most casual fans of music, the forty-five minutes that a band spends on the stage is all they can see. However, when the guitar cases are closed and the venue’s floor is littered with empty beer cans and trash, most bands load their gear into the van and return back to their normal lives.

Mother Church Pew’s Off The Stage is a series that celebrates artists’ paths to where they are and the things they do behind the scenes to stay there.

Russell James Pyle began writing songs at age 14, as soon as he could pluck out songs on a guitar; the Albuquerque-based alt-folk artist, who was chosen by the National Parks Arts Foundation as one of two centennial artists-in-residence at Big Bend National Park recently, is preparing to release his new EP, Seasons, in December. While music has always been his passion, Pyle only decided a few short years ago to pursue it full time. “I’m much poorer now,” Pyle laughs. “But I’m much more in resonance with myself, and my mental health is so much better. That’s priceless.”

“I have a master’s in counseling and was a psychotherapist for a few years before I enrolled in a PhD program at the University of New Mexico where my research focused on Ecopsychology—the study of psychology as it relates to connections with the natural world, as a way to heal mental health, among many other things,” recalls avid nature-lover Pyle. “One of the tenets of that idea is that we aren’t separate from the earth. What happens to us happens to the earth, and vice versa– when we work to heal the earth through conservation then we can heal ourselves.”

“I have a very long struggle with depression and anxiety, and PTSD. At times it’s very severe, but when I’m in nature, the symptoms subside,” he continues of the subject that holds a special personal meaning for him. “I’ve been in Big Bend National Park for two weeks, and I feel great. The majesty and the prominence of the mountains drew me to New Mexico, and I realized that the more time I spend in the natural world, the less my depression affects me. It’s like a coping mechanism.” Pyle realized that in the midst of his struggles, music was something he could do even in the throes of his worst symptoms.

“The research shows definitively that connecting with the natural world in one way or another is beneficial to mental health. It doesn’t even matter if you’re sitting and staring at the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend or you’re taking care of five plants in your office. It’s an interesting thing,” he continues. “Think about it this way—imagine you’re walking into a doctor’s office and it has that weird antiseptic smell and florescent lighting, you’re surrounded by jars of tongue depressers and swabs, and you see medical equipment and a biohazard container on the wall….then picture yourself walking into a doctor’s office where there are plants everywhere, there’s natural lighting, the office smells like lavender or cedar, there’s no biohazard box or tools on the wall, you hear a fountain bubbling in the corner; there’s palpable difference in the feeling between those two scenarios.”

With Seasons Pyle’s goal is two-fold: “I want my music to make people feel that their strength renewed, and I want them to know that they aren’t alone. You can create moods and images in words and soundscapes,” he reveals. “There’s an natural and atmospheric quality to Seasons that provides a sense of uplift, it’s meant to make you feel better about your life.” - Mother Church Pew

"Stream: Russell James Pyle, 'Seasons'"

In Their Words: “I like change; I find it quite exciting. The seasons explode with the beautiful truth that change is inevitable, and I must embrace my moments without dwelling on the past and the future in an unhealthy way. 'August Wind' and 'December Song' certainly speak to this theme directly, but the other tracks reach out to change in a similar way: with love, acceptance, and eager anticipation. While change can be scary, beauty and truth will always trump those lesser emotions.” -- Russell James Pyle - The Bluegrass Situation


RISE- May 2016

SEASONS EP- December, 2016



Russell James Pyle was born into a Virginia and Pennsylvania family steeped in cultural and musical tradition. A native of the Pamunkey Tribe in the Middle Peninsula of Virginia's tidewater, Russell was influenced by the natural world at an early age. With parents who were a trumpet player and classical pianist, respectively and a grandfather who commanded big bands with his horn during the 1940s and 50s, the groundwork for his career in music and his way of life was laid. He was playing the piano by age six, trumpet by age ten, before settling into the guitar after he found his Native American great-grandfather’s broken ukulele in the attic, repaired it with fishing line, and plucked out a major scale. Songwriting followed at age 14 and he immersed himself in the punk and hardcore scenes of Richmond, VA and Lancaster, PA. Towards the end of high school, Russell discovered traditional singer-songwriters and began almost a decade of honing his songwriting skills.

Russell migrated to Albuquerque, New Mexico when he was 26, and quickly formed The Porter Draw with a college friend, Josh Gingerich. It was with The Porter Draw that Russell gained experience and sharpened his abilities. The Porter Draw was in a lot of ways an amalgam of Russell’s influences: the punk energy of his youth mixed in equal parts with the country songwriters he fell in love with in his early 20s. “Punk and hardcore really speak to the anger that comes along with adolescence, country music relates to the existentialism of adulthood,” Russell remarked in a radio interview with KUNM in 2013. Russell recorded five albums with the band and although he no longer performs with them, they continue to create exciting music.

In May 2016, Russell released his debut solo album, “Rise”. Backed by a talented young lineup of Albuquerque musicians, Rise creates the sound of the desert where it was born. Influenced as much by Brian Eno and U2 as by Texas troubadours, Rise creates an uplifting mood amidst honest songs about struggle. Delivered in a trademark vibrato rasp and accompanied by an ethereal folk soundtrack, Russell’s songs are poems and calls to action.

In September 2016, Russell was selected by the National Parks Arts Foundation as the centennial artist-in-resident at Big Bend National Park. Russell is passionate about our national park service and the outdoors in general and this shows throughout his music and social media presence. “I can relate to struggle more than any other experience. There is a lot of struggle in the natural world and I draw inspiration, hope and healing from it,” Russell stated in an interview in 2016. Not only drawn to environmental activism, Russell incorporates principles of ecopsychology or healing mental health through interaction with nature into his songwriting. Russell has done extensive academic work on ecopsychology and eco-wellness and continues to write about the topic on his blog, The River’s Bend.

Influenced by his Native American heritage (his uncle is chief of the Pamunkey), Russell is an avid outdoors enthusiast and tours the country, living simply out of his 2005 Honda Element. Between shows, he is often found exploring streams with his fly rod, or hiking trails. He will be releasing a new EP, Seasons in December 2016, and touring extensively through out the country in 2017. 

Band Members