KEEPING TIME: Gregg Russell

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJuly 17, 2013 

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Hilton Head Island family musician and entertainer Gregg Russell, right, talks with a parent who had listened to him as a child Friday night during a concert underneath the Liberty Oak in Sea Pines. Russell is in his 37th year of performing.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo Buy Photo

Name: Gregg Russell

Home: Hilton Head Island

Gigs: 8 p.m. every night except Saturdays through Aug. 23 and Aug. 29-Sept. 1 in Harbour Town under the Liberty Oak.

Instrument: Guitar

Style: Children's musician with folk rocker roots

Influences: James Taylor, the Eagles, Dan Fogelberg

Life in music: Just about every evening in the summer, Gregg Russell stands before his audience of children and their families with not much more than a guitar and a few catchy tunes. He's been doing this for 37 years now under the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town. It's gotten to the point where the kids know the words to his songs and their parents remember them too from when they were young.

Looking back over his life, his talents in music and managing children were bound to intertwine. Growing up in Birmingham, Ala., he was the "camp counselor" type, he said. He had picked up a guitar at age 13 and strummed along to Beatles and Rolling Stones albums. He went to college to become a teacher but ended up playing music in small clubs. He tried making it in Los Angeles but he was just another guitarist in a town full of them. He returned to his native South, and eventually got a two-week gig at Harbour Town. His stay kept getting extended, even catching the eye of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser, who coaxed the young musician and his wife to permanently move to the island.

Over the years, his reach has stretched beyond the Liberty Oak. His production company High Tide Entertainment brought in artists such as Kenny Rogers and Hootie and the Blowfish to play on the island. He helped produce and even acted in the movie "Come Away Home," inspired by one of his original songs.

As far as his future, he plans to be a fixture in Harbour Town for as long as he can. Or, as he puts it: "I'll do this until I have to get a real job."

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