Thoughtful, passionate, and bold, Russell Gottlieb brings a wistful and propulsive sound to the banjo and guitar by drawing on influences ranging from rock to jazz and bluegrass to minimalism, without adhering too closely to stereotypes.
As a performer, composer, arranger, and teacher, he has an attraction to and a fascination for the darker and less explored territories of music.
In 2014, Gottlieb graduated Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Music degree, magna cum laude, where he studied jazz guitar with Vic Juris and a faculty of jazz masters.
By that time, Russell was already a keen performer. From 2010 through 2014, he played over 250 shows, spanning the entire East Coast and points West. It was during this time Russell started studying with banjo legend Ryan Cavanaugh.
In 2012, Russell co-founded The Brummy Brothers, a rock-infused, improvising string band that toured the US playing clubs, theaters, festivals, and more. The Brummy Brothers played hundreds of shows and recorded one full-length album, On Our Way.
Currently, Russell plays banjo with Deadgrass, a string-band quintet performing unique and adventurous interpretations of music from throughout Jerry Garcia's life. Deadgrass plays live in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States and is actively expanding its touring range with trips to California and the Midwest. Other groups Russell has accompanied and plays with include, Diesel Wagon, Keepin’ the Family, Adam Melchor, The Promised Land, The New Jersey Youth Choir, and more.
Music has the power to strengthen communities both large and small by bringing people together to share art in a social setting. Russell has participated in events with the Rex Foundation, and he volunteers his time to organize music-based events and play free concerts.
Russell offers private music lessons to players of all ages and skill levels, including beginners. As a teacher, his goal is to teach his students the skills they need to learn and improve on their own, along with the skills needed to play with other musicians and perform solo or with a group. Lessons are based on the student’s needs and interests.
Russell is always looking for new opportunities to learn about, play, and write music.
“Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”