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Bassist Russell Walters

By Monk Turner
Published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at 11:14PM
Russell Walters Monk Turner [Flickr]

Russell Wonder

If Stevie Wonder had a 'brother from another mother' living in Downtown L.A., it would be Russell Walters. Even though Russell is a white guy from the backwoods of Michigan with 20/20 vision, soul music drips from his fingers when he gets on the bass. Stevie Wonder's influence runs deep within this four string warrior; he even has the tattoo to prove it.

I met up with Russell to see what groups he has been playing with and get a sense of what life is like across from L.A. Live.

MONK TURNER: You had an interesting introduction to the South Park district of downtown...

RUSSELL WALTERS: We were in the valley and looking for a place to live downtown. Our landlord brought us down to the Pico Blue Line to show us the place. There was a homeless man out front asking me 'how much does this place go for a month?' as he was taking a piss. I wanted to tell him 'it was $1,800 but it just went down to $1,200.' [laughter]

MT: Since that day, have things changed much around here?

RW: Yeah. It can look like a rough place with the homeless guy taking a piss and I'm sure that still happens. Less break ins, it is nicer. It seemed a bit threatening at first but now I'm used to it.

MT: And now this is home base. What are some groups you play with?

RW: I'm in a handful of cover band projects that are down in the South Bay. I play with a guy named Scott Whyte who I play at the Shark's Cove in Manhattan Beach and Cafe Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach. I play with a group called Retrofit which is a 3 piece that does cool vocal harmonies. We do Steely Dan which is one of my favorite groups. We play at Ricky Finns and Henessys in Redondo Beach.

MT: What about Downtown? [laughter]

RW: Well I do play downtown. Sort of. I play in Chinatown with Midtones. But I'm not the guy who gets the gigs. I'm the guy who shows up and sees who wants to keep me around.

MT: Living a stones throw from L.A. Live, do you find yourself over there quite a bit?

RW: I've been over there twice. [laughter]

MT: And are you proud or ashamed of that?

RW: I guess I'm proud that I'm saving money. [laughter] But I'm ashamed I'm not spending any of it to meet any hot downtown girls. [laughter]

MT: What are the best parts of being a downtown resident?

RW: I like the action. The people out doing things. The events. I like it and I don't like it because there is no parking and everyone is here at your house vacationing and I'm like 'I live here.'

MT: People peeing on your doorstep. [laughter]

RW: Yeah. But I guess I sort of like that because I'm from a small town where we didn't have all that. I just like looking out every morning and seeing where the Lakers play.

Unfortunately, if you want to see Russell play, you can't just look out your window. You will have to venture down to the South Bay. Another option is to come check him out at Midtones twice a month at the Grandstar in Chinatown. Stevie, if you're reading this, please give Russell a call if you're looking for a bass player.


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