I work composing, performing and teaching music. This includes recording, programming, transcription, arranging, teaching guitar and workshops, and playing with ensembles at clubs or for events.
I provide composition and sound design solutions as well as producer support for songwriters, film, web, and all other media. I also work as a session guitarist and percussionist on other artist’s recordings.
I teach at and manage the music lesson program at Folkway Music in Guelph, Ontario. My interests as a guitarist lie increasingly at the intersection of folk, jazz and classical.
I play solo guitar for concerts, weddings and special events. My repertoire includes music from the pop, jazz, folk and classical idioms. In addition to solo guitar music, I play with numerous bands.
For Nicholas Russell, a day without guitar is like a day without espresso: tolerable, but incomplete. His wife jokes that the guitar is his mistress, and not just because he sneaks off to hold it every single day. You can see his love when he plays – the tender strokes along its neck, the way he tickles the strings until they laugh or bends them ‘til they wail. Nick can play the guitar without looking, and he’ll be with the guitar until the day he dies.
Nick first picked up the guitar at the age of eleven, influenced by his father and grandfather – both whom pay (and paid) the bills with music. He spent his teens honing his skills in jazz and rock ensembles. His passion for writing and performance led him to study Theatre at the University of Guelph, but in time he shifted to the School of Music, where he studied jazz guitar with Dr. Howard Spring and Dr. Andrew Scott (now a professor at Humber in Toronto).
Electricity was novel after a youth spent off-the-grid in a log cabin nestled deep in the woods of Haliburton County, and so Nick dove into digital recording, synthesizers, computers, and any sounds he could conjure from these devices. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Music in 2009.
Through those university days and the years that followed, Nick always felt the pull of his mistress – a pure, unadorned guitar. Jazz greats like Joe Pass, John Mclaughlin, Chet Atkins, Lenny Breau and Paco de Lucia influenced him as much as classical masters like Segovia and Julian Bream. In 2007 Nick followed the passion for melody and ‘pure music’ to private study with Toronto composer Robert Mundinger. Through ear training exercises and analysis, Nick developed his understanding of classical composition and harmony – a cerebral education to support his visceral passion.
Nick strives to foster a complete understanding of music on the guitar, incorporating elements of history, sociology, philosophy and physics into his music lessons, as well as guitar construction and maintenance. Live, Nick is a versatile player be it with genre-bending ensembles or sitting comfortably in an intimate acoustic environment. His knowledge spans genres, but his current exploration and solo repertoire lie at the intersection of folk, jazz and classical music.
In recent years Nick has expanded his freelancing to include work as a composer (Dusk Dances Dance Festival, Arts Bournemouth University) and as a studio musician (Metalworks Studios, Escarpment Sound, Deschamps Studio). He is an educator and performing artist, playing big band, standards, fusion, acoustic, free jazz, folk and solo guitar arrangements for weddings and events – anything that keeps his mistress up close to his bosom.
Nick has settled in Guelph, Ontario, teaching and managing the lesson program at Folkway Music. You can find him in a happy home with his lovely wife Stephanie, a small cat, and a very large dog.