By Jessica Schley

Contributing Writer

A series of spring and summer musical gatherings titled “The Branding Fire: Music at the Ranch” will open with a performance by Tom Russell from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the River Grill at the Alisal in Solvang.

Russell’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, among many others, and he appeared five times on “Late Night with David Letterman.” He is also a painter, essayist, and award-winning music journalist.

His latest album, “Folk Hotel,” was released in September. It features 13 new songs and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.”

With only 100 seats available at the venue, the idea for the series is to hark back to the tradition of the California vaquero gathering: food, drink, music and conversation among friends, in a “campfire” setting, for all ages.

Award-winning musician Art Green Jr., the series co-creator with his friend Bill Reynolds, manages the cattle operation at the Alisal Ranch. The men wanted to create opportunities to celebrate great singers and songwriting in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Reynolds is a publisher and author focusing on the traditions of the West. His background in the music industry and Green’s connections have allowed them to book elite acoustic artists for the intimate venue.

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