Russ started playing stringed instruments with his first ukelele in 5th grade purchased with S+H Green stamps in Dover, NJ. After a brief stint in heavy metal bands in high school he discovered bluegrass which led to a life-long love of acoustic music. At his first night at Moravian College, he met John Gorka where they were both playing at an open mic. They soon formed a band with Doug Anderson and were joined the following year by Rich Shindell on lead guitar. Russ was the mandolin player , John played incredible 5 string banjo and Doug Andersen provided the solid rock rhythm on his custom made Froggy Bottom guitars. Tim Germer later joined as bass player. Throughout all four years of college, they played around the Lehigh Valley centering around Godfrey Daniel's and the southside of Bethlehem, PA.
After college, Russ went to medical school, Doug received a Ph.D. and needless to say, John and Rich went on to well-deserved fame and glory in the folk music world.
During his medical training, Russ continued to pursue his passion of acoustic music and picked up hammer and mountain dulcimer, fiddle, dobro, autoharp and bouzouki. He also started building his own hammer dulcimers and uses his own instruments on stage.
While continuing to practice general internal medicine, Russ played every chance he could at local bookstores, churches, open mics and music festivals. On several of John's return trips to the Lehigh Valley, Russ has joined him on stage .
Russ has recently closed his practice of medicine and is now pursuing his life-long dream and passion of performing original and traditional music. He counts Bob Dylan, John McCutcheon and Walt Michaels as major influences in his style. His live performances are a mix of folk, celtic and blues-inspired tunes with multiple instrument changes interspersed with his off-beat humor and wry observations about life that keep the audiences coming back for more. ( As well as for free medical advice !)
Rich Shindell, Doug Andersen, John Gorka, Russ Rentler at the Floating Folk Festival -1978 Bethlehem, PA