By September 1, 2016 Read More →

Ryan Crawford Russell: We Will Live Forever




By Patty Castillo Davis

Photo Courtesy of Threelle Productions

Photo Courtesy of Threelle Productions

Ryan  Russell  was a man of many virtues. Among them was loyalty, spiritual humbleness, and  freely bestowing friendship. Across the country people are lamenting the loss they feel for a person described as a gentle soul and poet of the common man, whose songs injected emotion and  transcended Country, Folk, Rock and the Blues.

Russell experienced acute bouts of chronic asthma throughout his life including one in the early part of summer 2016 which required a visit to the emergency room.  After a rousing show at the Water Wheel Saloon in Sonora with his band mates “Tractor Boy” Chris Ward and John Montes on July 30, in the early morning hours of Sunday at his home, he suffered a severe asthma attack. The episode resulted in acute respiratory arrest brought on by severe asthma exacerbation.  On August 1, surrounded by his wife of ten months, Tara, and close family and friends, Ryan Russell, 44, was declared deceased at Doctor’s Medical Center. Continuing his caring nature, even after his passing, he nurtured others through his gift of organ donation. At least five families have had their loved ones returned from the brink of death because of his consideration for others.

Tributes quickly poured in from around the music community and beyond expressing condolences and remembrances including KAT Country 103 and Off Farm Income Podcast. Russell had an acting role in “Dive”, the pilot episode of a television series about friendship, addiction and life in a small town, shot last Fall in Tuolumne County and his single, “Born To Lose” will be included in the upcoming soundtrack. Writer and Director Matthew Lopes and Producer David McAbee are including a dedication to Russell.

Ryan Crawford Russell  was born and raised on the outskirts of Oakdale, California where he attended local schools. Early on, music became an important interest and Russell began singing in his church choir. A diverse mixture of Classic Rock, Blues, Folk and Country and Western music shaped what would later become his Americana signature style of songwriting. A self-taught guitarist, starting at 23 years of age and influenced in his early years by Jimi Hendricks, Hank Williams, Neil Young, Lightening Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Jack White, he began his journey in songwriting, known for his focus and fastidious work ethic. Because of his professionalism, reliability and thoughtful  consideration to detail, he became a sought-after artist and opened National shows in every noteworthy  venue in the Modesto community music scene.  He was nominated three consecutive years for a Modesto Area Music Award in the Americana and Singer Songwriter categories. Touring became a tremendous experience and getting to spread  his California regional sound across the nation fulfilled a dream, taking him to Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Mississippi and Minnesota. The goal to move to Austin, Texas before the Fall was going to be the next step for him, Tara and her son as they would join her son’s  Father there. Then, Russell would become a member of the spectacular Austin music scene and record his next album in his new hometown.

Russell was a champion for his fellow songwriters without lines drawn for genre, and was respected in return. As his friend and drummer Chris Ward stated, “Ryan Russell was a man with more talent, love and creativity in just his little finger than most people’s whole body. It was always such a great experience playing with Ryan, he took me places I’d maybe never get to play, from a radio station up North, across to the Clarksdale, Mississippi Crossroads. Definitely the most humble guy to tour with. Every time we’d  perform I would stare at him, not to keep my time, but to watch him play. His flawless performance at our last show is one I will never forget.”

He is survived by his wife Tara, step-son Ryan Shepherd, parents Mike and Denise Russell, brothers  Dan Russell, Randy Russell and his wife Amanda of The RandyMandy Band and niece Kimberly Russell, along with countless numbers of extended family and friends.

We have lost one of the strongest and most beautiful threads in the tapestry that runs throughout the music scene in our region. Several efforts to keep the legacy thriving are being created. An event officially sanctioned by the estate will be hosted by the Knights Ferry General Store, Saloon and Grill on Sunday, September 11 as a musical testament  to Ryan featuring Singer Songwriters handpicked for their personal kinship and loyalty, and a deep understanding of his music , all proceeds, including new merchandise will benefit  Ryan Russell Music and the rerelease of his CD, The Lonesome Traveler.

The Ryan Russell Music Songwriters Foundation, a non-profit organization, is in development by Tara Russell with a deep focus on songwriting to serve the youth in the area providing songwriting Mentors and clinics and a partnership with Gottschalk’s Music and Ray’s Workshop-Music School  to bestow financial help for instrument rental and lessons.

At you can show your support for the family and help them manage the costs of Ryan’s medical expenses. remains active and will contain updates and information as it becomes available.

The  Ryan Russell Memorial Scholarship fund is being created by Mike Russell for endowment  to an Oakdale High School music student to be awarded during the 2016-17 school year.

A private memorial will be held to celebrate his life.



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