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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 2012 through 2014, he played over 250 shows, spanning the entire East Coast and points West.

In 2012, Russell co-founded The Brummy Brothers, a rock-infused, improvising string band that toured the US playing approximately 115 shows per year and continues to play today.


Russell plays banjo with Deadgrass, a NYC-based string band celebrating the musical legacy of Jerry Garcia.  Deadgrass is currently expanding its range to include NY State, Vermont, New Jersey, Maryland, and farther.  Other groups Russell has accompanied and plays with include, Diesel Wagon, Keepin’ the Family, Adam Melchor, Carolyn Miller, The Promised Land (live only), 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.”

    -Robert Hunter