Randi Russo

Randi Russo will perform at OJ All Day Upstairs Saturday May 24, 4:30pm

Randi Russo has ended up on the wrong side of the tracks... at least when it comes to her guitar-playing. Her fingers ride and glide the rails of strings of a right-handed guitar played upside-down and backwards. In other words, this southpaw is not just taking a righty guitar and switching the strings around(like the late, great Jimi Hendrix), but keeps the guitar as is and just flips it over, so that the bass strings are on the bottom. And all this happened long before Randi ever heard of Elizabeth Cotten (another upside-down lefty guitarist of the late 1940's).

This inspired approach came about when Randi bought a $22 right-handed classical guitar on the street. Maybe it was teenage laziness or maybe it was a pure magnetism for thinking out of the box, but Randi didn't change the intricate tie-end strings to make it into a traditional left-handed guitar. This soon became her foremost artistic muse, experimenting in an organic way while coming up with unique and interesting chords. Oddly enough, she continued to play the "proper" lefty style on her electric, but eventually inverted that guitar as well, with the bulk of her prolific catalog dominated by this atypical style.

It was only a couple of years ago that Randi began "experimenting" again with the standard way of playing. As a result, Randi is proficient in playing both ways. This has not been an easy task, as she tells us, "I was trying to look at it as an alternate tuning, but it was much more complicated than I thought. It's like playing a keyboard and then being asked to walk around to the other side and play a piece with the black keys up front and the white keys in back - that can really mess with a musician's mind. But in the long run, it really has made me a better musician and has opened up so many possibilities musically."

Randi's songs and presence bridge the gap between sexy and cerebral. There is a toughness and tenderness in her songwriting and performances that has led to comparisons to fellow New Yorkers Lou Reed and Patti Smith. While pumping out gutsy songs with gripping melodies, she cuts deep with her poignant, incisive lyrics. Her hands ignite a fiery sound that can flare up into intense explosions of emotion or simmer with a calm fury - lighting up every dark path we often find ourselves on. The Village Voice has called her a "guitar goddess" and has said that "her guitar playing is sweet when it needs to be, but nasty in all the right places," while her words have been noted for their "lyrical bite" (All Music Guide).

After a few overseas tours and shows in the U.S., Randi earned a spot at the Milwaukee Summerfest in 2004, playing alongside main stage artists Crosby, Stills and Nash. She has shared bills with quite a few better-known indie acts, and has been on an Antifolk compilation along with cult hero Daniel Johnston.

With her latest release, Shout Like a Lady, Randi continues to venture outside of the box with songs that challenge the listener. Whether her unconventional way of playing was out of convenience or creative vision (or perhaps a combination of the two), this "hardworking rocker" (The Village Voice) knows how to work it through and through... whether it be right-side up or upside-down, she knows exactly which direction she's going in.

Randi on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/randirusso
Official Website: http://www.randirusso.com