RUSS CARSON grew up in a home full of oldtime and bluegrass music. Surrounded by banjo and fiddle music from a very early age Russ developed a passion for the banjo and acoustic music. His father Glenn, who has been building banjos since 1975, is an oldtime fiddle & banjo player.
At age 10 Russ heard Earl Scruggs play on a recording. This kindled a strong desire to start taking banjo lessons. His supportive parents contacted local banjo teacher Nev Jackson and got Russ signed up as a student. After 6 years with Nev he was able to take occasional lessons from musicians such as Alan Munde, Bill Keith, Jens Kruger, Tony Trishka, Mike Munford, Chris Warner, Tom Adams and Jeremy Stephens. This provided Russ with a solid foundation to start building his own style. Having grown up with old time music and his father’s friendships with players like Bob Buckingham, Reed Martin and Jimmy McCown, he also developed an interest in playing old time clawhammer banjo.
His first opportunity to use everything he learned came into play when he was given a chance to perform with Virginia based bluegrass band, Gold Heart. The two years spent with them really helped Russ get a taste for the music industry and provided him the opportunity to play in an established touring band. During this time period Russ finished his first solo project "Last Chance" on Tom Mindte's Patuxent Records Label. This project includes the picking talents of Michael Cleveland, Patrick McAvinue (fiddle), Marshall Willborn (bass), Jake Stargel (guitar), and Dominick Leslie (mandolin) and vocals from Marshall, Jeff Parker, Brandon Rickman and the Gold sisters.
After Gold Heart Russ was given the chance to play with Audie Blaylock in his powerhouse bluegrass band Redline for over three years. This time spent with Audie and Redline really helped hone his ability to listen, play solid time, interact with the other musicians and learn the banjo’s role in making the band sound as part of the whole. Audie would often say, "a great band is a team effort, not just the acts of one person carrying the whole unit".
Russ currently is a full time member of the multiple time award winning band Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. The opportunity to join this powerhouse of musicians is the realization of a life long dream for Russ. Though this journey with Ricky is only beginning, It is going to be a truly incredible life changing experience.
Throughout the past six years while playing with Gold Heart, Audie and Redline & Ricky Skaggs he also had a great opportunity to work with and learn from some other bluegrass & industry legends including Bruce Hornsby, Billy Ray Cyrus, Del and Ronnie McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Aubrey Haynie, Glen Duncan, Carl Jackson, Lou Reid, Jason Carter, Jason Moore, Jimmy Van Cleve, Byron House, Scott Vestal, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Aaron Ramsey & many more...
Russ is getting ready to release his second solo project with Patuxent titled “Avenue of the Giants” this time featuring the talents of the full Redline band. Russ wanted to work with Audie (guitar/vocals) and his good friends Patrick McAvinue (fiddle), Jesse Brock (mandolin) and Jason Moore (bass) when they recorded the sessions in March 2013, as they had spent much of 2012 and 2013 on the road together and were in a tight groove. Hopefully, others agree!