Most of us know Russ Nasset as the front-man for longtime Missoula musical stalwarts, the Revelators. Playing a mix of country, blues, and rockabilly, the band keeps dance floors bouncing wherever it goes.
But Nasset’s career didn’t begin in the world of dance halls and barrooms. Back in the day, he was a coffeehouse crooner playing old folk music.
“Growing up in a little town where there wasn’t really a way to play in a band, I always had the desire to do music but there wasn’t really a way to go about it, that I could see,” recalls Nasset, now 59. “Then I heard Bob Dylan’s early stuff and I realized you could do it with just one guy and a guitar.”
Nasset moved to Oregon, where he became a regular in the regional folk-music scene. His life as a Montana bandleader came much later.
Lately, he’s turned back to his roots – and to the roots of American popular music. For the past couple of years, he has held forth in twice-monthly solo gigs at the Old Post, playing a healthy dose of tunes that are older than most of the bar’s patrons.
Now, he has released a full album of those songs. Titled “Human Tongue,” the 12-track record maps the rich veins of traditional Americana, with Nasset’s gravely baritone mining the fertile ground all along the way. Even in territory as familiar as Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” Nasset finds new contours: In his hands, the song makes perfect sense as a campfire cowboy ballad.
Nasset’s new album is now available at Rockin Rudy’s. He’ll appear next at the Old Post Pub on Thursday, July 2.