Members of the group included keyboardist/bassist Richard "Dickie" Thompson, a former member of the "The Joker"-era Steve Miller Band; drummer Phil Leonard, a veteran of The Brother Boys; saxophonist Ron Baisden, currently of the Tri-Cities based blues group Blue Rapture; bassist John Smith, of the Shapeshifters, Brian & the Nightmares, etc.; and guitarist Billy Crawford, currently on tour with Blind Pig recording artist Deborah Coleman. While touring regionally with the GrooveMasters, Rob kept writing and performing as a solo artist and as a duo (variously called "The Other Boys" and "The Sky Kings") with best friend and songwriting partner Robert Alfonso.
Moving to Knoxville in 1991 to attend graduate school at the University of Tennessee, Rob soon hooked up with singer/songwriter Scott Miller. Rob joined Scott and John Taylor in the "Bluegrass Disciples" and also backed Scott with drummer Jeff Bills, performing near and not-so-near across the Southeast. (Jeff and Scott later went on to greater fame as 2/4's of the V-Roys, releasing three CD's on Steve Earle's E-Squared label. Scott currently has a live self-released album available, plus his excellent solo studio debut on Sugar Hill Records.)
Returning to Johnson City in 1993, Rob began playing with bassist Curt Rode and drummer Rich Sewell as Rob Russell and the Rent Boys, releasing an 8-song cassette, "Trick Dog" in 1996. Soon after, the Rent Boys morphed into The Mystery Dates with the addition of Robert Alfonso on guitar and vocals. The 'Dates appeared on the first "Edges from the Postcard" compilation in 1997 and released one CD/EP, "No Regrets," in 1998. Rob and Robert split from the 'Dates in 1998 to form The Bystanders with singer/songwriter/bassist Brandon Story, drummer Allan Gamble, and multi-instrumentalist Alan Maki.
The group's CD "Greatest Hits, Volume One" was released in 1999. With the demise of that group in 2000, Rob formed the first incarnation of The Sore Losers with Alan Marcum, Andy Russell and Brandon Story. Brandon soon left to form his own group, The Jelly Roll String Band, and Travis Stuart joined on bass in June, 2000. The group soon recorded an EP, "Five Songs," selling it at shows and on the Internet via MP3.com, where songs regularly charted in the Top 5 of the Americana, Alternative Country, and Local charts.
In 2001 and 2002, Rob & the Sore Losers travelled the Southeast. With a growing reputation as a great live band, the Losers continued to win audiences in Nashville, Knoxville, Blacksburg VA, Greenville SC, and Asheville NC. Marcum left in September 2001, but the band soon expanded, joined by keyboardist/vocalist Don Eanes (Janey Grey) in October 2001 and guitarist/vocalist David Hart in May 2002. The band recorded "I Think We're Going to Be Alright" on weeknights and between shows in April-May of 2002. Helping out were co-producer Alan Gamble, engineer Mark Bennet, and a cast of outstanding musicians: the aforementioned Eanes and Hart, Megan Gregory (Meridian) on fiddle, and Vanessa Person and Ron Baisden (Blue Rapture) on vocals and sax/harmonica/accordion, respectively.
Reviews for "I Think We're Gonna Be Alright" on CD Baby as well as local and regional press (check out the stories on http://www.mp3.com/robrussell) have been glowing! College and Americana-format stations in Johnson City, Memphis, Knoxville, Raliegh NC and Blacksburg VA have added "She's Gone," "Not Satisfied," "Come Down Here," and "Prison Tattoo," among other cuts, to regular rotaion.
So, don't be the last person on your block to find out about the "next big thing" -- like the song says, "success hasn't spoiled [them] yet," but it's trying to!
1. Come Down Here
2. Less Like You
3. Not Satisfied
4. The Phone Call
5. Out of My Blood
6. Prison Tattoo
7. Indiana Jones
9. She's Gone
10. Feel Alright
11. Close to the Edge
12. Innocent 75
13. Every Little Thing
14. Drive Me Home