Tom Russell brought a fusion of folk and country music to Los Banos on Saturday night.
More than 100 people came to the Ted Falasco Arts Center to hear the singer-songwriter perform, some from Los Banos and other Valley towns, others from as close as Hollister to as far away as towns in Oregon and Arizona.
David Barnhart came from Oregon to see Russell.
“I’m a fan,” Barhart said. “I enjoy going on vacation and seeing folk artists.”
Russell played a mix of songs by performers who influenced him, music he’s written for other artists and his own songs. Bob Dylan is among his favorites.
“I grew up listening to Dylan in Inglewood,” Russell recounted “I used to play Bob Dylan records every night.”
Russell performed songs that told stories from different regions of the country. He performed “Rose of the San Joaquin,” which specifically mentions Dos Palos and Chowchilla. He also performed “Veterans Day,” a song he wrote for Johnny Cash about a man refusing to believe his brother died in the Vietnam War.
Russell said he admired Cash and was honored to have worked with him.
“Standing next to Johnny Cash was like standing next to Mount Rushmore,” Russell said.
Russell ingratiated himself with the Los Banosans who attended the concert, joking about the popcorn machine and complimenting the main business section of town.
“I was walking around downtown today, it took me 10 minutes. I loved it,” he said.
Jessie Stoddard brought several people to the concert to celebrate her birthday.
“I’ve known Tom since 2007 and I’ve told him, ‘Why don’t you come to Los Banos?’” Stoddard said. “He comes and it happens to be on my birthday.”
Russell has written and performed music since the 1970s and has recorded nearly two dozen albums.