December '08/ January '09
Harder Beat Magazine Online

Russ Hewitt
Shedding old skin

Nuevo flamenco guitarist Russ Hewitt

Russ (formerly Saul) Hewitt has been a fixture in Dallas for nearly two decades. The six-string maestro was the driving force of some of the biggest area rock bands in the last 15 years - Outrageous, Whipping Post and Hollow. Now, he is coming into his own as a solo artist, but the myriad changes only begin with his name.

“In many ways, I’m starting over,” Hewitt explains. “New band, new music, a different way to approach music and a different target audience.” His decision to go by his middle name is a reflection of this shift. “I’m ‘shedding old skin,’ if you will,” he affirms.

His latest release, Bajo El Sol, is a bright, fluid soft jazz with heavy overtones of the traditional Spanish style of flamenco. “Ironically enough, I’m not a flamenco player at all,” explains Hewitt, “not in the traditional sense like Paco De Lucia or Sabicus.” This style is called ‘nuevo flamenco,’ which Hewitt explains, “takes the ‘rumba’ style of flamenco, puts it into song form (intro/verse/chorus/solo, etc) and then adds melody over it.

“I’ve been gigging in this style since the mid 90’s,” he continues. “I always thought at some point I would record an album, and when Hollow broke up, our producer (Bob Parr) said it was time. I spent three years in five different studios,” he notes, “and brought in heavy-duty players to make sure it was done right. No more excuses!”

Though rock music remains a vital part of Hewitt’s being, his expansion and growth as an artist was essential. “I’ll always be a metal head,” he points out, “but I also enjoy other music. This style is definitely more challenging. I am writing the charts, harmony, tempo, keys, the overall feel, etc. Plus,” he laughs, “trying to get what’s in my head out is a torturous process.”

His decision to explore this aspect of his talents is multi-tiered. Like any musician truly dedicated to their art, Hewitt recognizes that the key to longevity and continued success is the ability and willingness to adapt. “There are certain realities that every player has to face,” he explains. “I mean, there’s not a label in the world that’s gonna sign a 30-year-old ‘rock star.’ If there is, the line forms to the left,” he laughs. Still, if the right opportunity presented itself, Hewitt admits he might bite. “If I come across a big or mid-size band that needs a guitarist, I would definitely consider it, but the thought of going back to a practice room AGAIN and starting over has no appeal right now. Plus,” he quickly adds, “with how the local scene is right now and having to battle what little places there are to play with cover and tribute bands...sheesh.”

Hard to argue.

For now, though, Hewitt is perfectly content with the path on which his muse is leading. Some artists struggle their entire careers trying to discover who they really are, but not Russ Hewitt. He is the embodiment of his craft, whether it be in front of a Marshall stack or behind a hollow-body acoustic guitar. “This is definitely my focal point right now,” he notes. “We already have over 30 stations playing tracks off the CD and after the first of the year, we’re gonna push a single and see where it takes us. The beauty of this genre,” Hewitt says, “is that there is no age limit and unlimited shelf life. I felt I had more to say on the guitar and this allows a creative outlet and a career.”

Music lovers can purchase or download the new CD, Bajo El Sol, at www.russhewitt or Each site lists upcoming gigs and appearances as well.


| Russ Hewitt | Kai Hansen of Gamma Ray | Best Of 2008 | Trans-Siberian Orchestra | Soulfly | Melt your face metal | Ugly Mustard |

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