Herschel Freeman Agency

A Pairing of Music and Art



Acoustic guitarist Brian Gore and renowned illustrator Bill Russell bring the beauty and dynamic history of California’s Wine Country to life by blending music against a backdrop of still life landscapes, animation, and digital drawing. At each concert, they also offer a special “home town” segment in which they apply the same techniques to the unique local history of the host city.

Known as a “poet of the guitar,” Brian’s compositions have story lines that take the listener on spellbinding rides through stories, places and moods. Versatile illustrator Bill Russell turns this music into a feast for the eyes, bringing his visual reportage and myriad styles into an evocative visual presentation of place. Together, their original program, inspired by the Sonoma and Napa wine country and coast of California, is combined with a featured story of the host city.

The Show

Each performance features 70 minutes of music and art inspired by the wine country and California coast:

Bill’s artwork is projected in tandem with Brian’s music, to portray landmarks like the historic Bale Grist Mill in St. Helena; the migratory Miwoks and Spanish mission history; the adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny on their Napa honeymoon; Jack London's ‘Wolf House’ in Glen Ellen, and much more. Instrumentals like 'The Last Mission', used in an animation about Sonoma, reference wax cylinder recordings of music from Spanish Colonial history in California.

The inspiration for Santa Cruz in Song and Image, their first CD release, came from the afternoon walks Brian took with his son in the region. He wrote a full suite of music evoking the landscape and landmarks of Santa Cruz, California. Bill brings the story of these settings to life in animations and impressionistic paintings, that include the surfers at Lighthouse Point, the monarch butterflies resting area at Natural Bridges, the covered bridge in Felton and the waterfalls of Castle Rock State Park, and the birds found around the Lexington Reservoir.

The narratives found in The Wine Country are designed, as much as possible, to be evocative enough to be understood without words. Brian and Bill will provide some initial explanation of their process and what was involved in bringing together these various media along with some basic context for the stories, historical events and landmarks.

The final part of each concert is dedicated to the host city. Brian and Bill will research each area, in advance of the event, using input from people knowledgeable about your community to inform their presentation. A site visit or residency, in advance of the show makes their reportage possible.

The Process and Technical Requirements

Art for the stage show consists of live guitar music with digital versions of paintings, illustrations, and animations, which will be projected as montages and video. Most of this material is already produced for the series and is included in part, in the print material provided for the published release, as well as the videos on YouTube.

Beyond basic amplification needs for an acoustic guitar, a high quality digital projector and screen are the primary technical requirements. Additionally, a stage plot and lighting sequence will be provided. Doceri and other apps for the iPad will be used to sync digital drawing to projection. Some pre-produced backgrounds and other elements are added for context. The portable iPad is connected through a wireless router remotely, which will allow for remote control of the entire visual sequence in the show.

Tour Support

A small selection of featured wines from the region is provided to raffle at each show. The Santa Cruz in Song and Image CD+postcard set, The Wine Country CD/DVD and image set, is also made available to press and media in advance of each event. All merchandise will be available for purchase at each concert as well as online.

Bill RussellBill Russell

Bill Russell is a versatile visual artist working in a wide range of styles and skills...as an illustrator, visual journalist, educator and designer. His illustrations have been published in national magazines and for books, including three novels by Stephen King. He showcased his reportage as a visual journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he created the popular weekly "Bay Folk Sketchbook," featuring the Bay Area's many unique locations and colorful personalities. As an Adjunct Professor of Illustration at the California College of Arts, he nurtured the beginning careers of many young artists. Bill recently completed an Artist-in-Residency at Recology San Francisco, where he published a book of people who collect and recycle San Francisco's refuse. Bill continues to push the creative envelope incorporating a variety of new multimedia technologies, such as live digital drawing, for use in performance and on the web. He has designed over 60 websites for creative clients.

Born and raised in Canada, he earned his degree at Parsons School of Design in New York. He lives in Marin County with his wife and son in a restored Eichler home.

More information about Bill and to view his portfolios can be found at BillRussellDesign.com, Billustration.com, BillRussellFineArt.com and ProfileReportage.com His art and music collaborations with Brian Gore can be viewed at SongandImage.com

Brian Gore

San Francisco guitar poet Brian Gore is gaining a reputation as one of the most interesting and influential performers of "the next generation" in fingerstyle guitar. A musical romantic, his compositions draw inspiration from myth and modern literature. Hailed as having "...one of the most unique new acoustic guitar styles on the scene today (News and Review)," his lyrical, understated compositions integrate classical and percussive techniques that display what the Los Angeles Times calls "a characterful bounce and spaciousness all his own."

Gore’s style of playing offers strikingly beautiful tone and dynamics-- qualities that are often hard to find in steel string players. His melodic, evocative songs rely heavily on the use of open tunings, extending the “stream of consciousness” style of guitar composing he grew up with in Northern California. “Music started out as a kind of therapy for me,” says Gore. “Consequently, I am a very emotional player. Now, my style of playing has also become a well honed craft. I am very grateful I can share this with people.”

Brian GoreHis buoyant personality and odd sense of humor help add lightness to his shows. “By the time I’m done with a performance,” explains Gore, “people really know the meaning of the term ‘extroverted introvert’.” While Gore integrates some of the flashier percussive techniques into his pieces, the poetic quality of his music is preserved. “Because my music is simple and somewhat rootsy, it’s easy to relate to, which is something I’m thankful for. Also, it helps keep me grounded.”

Gore's first CD, produced by Peppino D’Agostino, is called The Path of Least Resistance. His second CD, Legacy: Solo Guitar and Duets, is available on Germany’s Acoustic Music Records Label. His music has been featured on NPR’s nationally syndicated Echoes Radio, and many other local public radio programs.

Brian founded The International Guitar Night in 1995 as a forum for the world's finest guitarists/composers to play their latest original songs and share musical ideas with their peers in public concert. This has evolved into critically acclaimed annual tours in the US (starting in 2000), Canada (starting in 2006) and the UK (starting in 2007), a CD on Favored Nations Records released in 2004, a guitar instruction book published in 2005, and IGN releases on Warner Music Canada (the 6th annual CD will be released in 2011).

"Brian Gore's strong, well developed melodies and intriguing chord sequences set him apart from the myriad of steel-string fingerstylists who compose in open tunings. His finely crafted poetic "songs without words" take the listener on a spellbinding emotional ride.”
--Ron Forbes Roberts, Acoustic Guitar Magazine

“An artist of the highest caliber.”
--Ray Toumey, the Boulder Chautauqua


Press Photos

Brian Gore Bill Russell    


Tour Schedule


May 5 Bankhead Theater, Livermore CA

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Ticket info - call 800-555-1212