Tom Russel is a country musician and singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. In the early 1970s, Russell began his music career in Texas with singer and pianist Patricia Hardin. The two musicians went their separate ways in 1979 and Russell fell off of the music map until he met musician Andrew Hardin while working as a taxi driver in Queens. They formed a band together and met Robert Hunter, songwriter for The Grateful Dead shortly after, who invited them to join his band on stage. Russell and Hardin, no relation to Patricia, became The Grateful Dead's regular opening act and started The Tom Russel Band. From 1984 to 1994, The Tom Russell Band released four country/folk rock albums inspired by the American southwest and the life of blue-collar workers. Russell's solo work from the 1990s displayed his narrative strengths, particularly his 1999 album The Man From God Knows Where, which is a collection of stories told from the point of view of his European ancestors. Beginning in the 2000s, Russell's sound took on a Tex-Mex flavor, an influence from his Southern California roots and home in El Paso. Since his first album with Patricia Hardin, Russell has released over twenty albums including his 2009 release Blood and Candle Smoke, and continues to create alternative country music.