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What's Up Magazine

Tobias Russell, 25, Rising Star Musician

Jan 04, 2011 09:58PM ● By Anonymous

He’s working incredibly hard to put Annapolis on the music map. In just three and a half short years since he graduated from St. John’s College Annapolis, Tobias Russell has evolved into one of the most entertaining musicians in town; and he has aspirations to expand way beyond the 21401 zip code. At 25 years old, the budding musician is, perhaps, in his creative prime, crafting songs that blend a variety of styles including rap, folk, pop, rock, electronic, and dub; he could be the next poster child of the roots-rock-reggae movement, long popularized by a talented family with the last name Marley. “I listen to a lot of music, and anytime I hear something new or innovative that really catches my ear, it makes me want to work harder,” says Russell.

Russell’s live concerts are the proving ground at which he’s been winning over new fans with each performance. He’s prolific on the piano and guitar, has writing and rhyming skills that rival the region’s best, and polished vocals. Altogether, Russell brings energy to the stage and has been featured on several bills as the headlining performer.

Long before this hype, Russell took piano lessons at an early age (about seven years old), picked up the guitar by age 12, and played percussion in the high school band at Archbishop Spalding. The second oldest of four brothers (each musically inclined), he cites his family and music teachers as lifelong inspirations and Paul Simon as a profound musical influence. “His grasp of music is something I’ve always admired, and worked towards,” says Russell. This past fall, Russell released his first record, Flesh.Bones.Teeth.Words, which has received airplay on local radio stations such as WRNR.This year he plans to record a wealth of original music and begin expanding his horizons on a tour. His credo, “Let the music set you free,” is a fitting way to describe Russell’s passion and potential. (tobiasrussellmusic.com)

—James Houck