Review from SING OUT! Magazine Summer 2004 Vol.48 #2
Russ Rentler is based in eastern Pennsylvania. While attending Moravian College in Bethlehem he teamed up with John Gorka and Richard Shindell in a college band. They went off to fame and fortune and Russ went off to med. school. Recently he has given up his practice to concentrate on music making, and Acoustic Minstrel is his second CD.
Russ plays a myriad of instruments including guitar, bass, National steel guitar, Dobro, harmonica, autoharp, hammered dulcimer, fiddle and bouzouki. The CD is mostly a collection of original songs and tunes in a variety of styles with Russ playing all the instruments.
The recording opens with "Girl Like You," a sweet and sincere love song to his companion in life. It's followed by "Planxty Fluharty," an original hammered dulcimer instrumental with an insistent rhythm. Later we are treated to "Storm Over Delmarva'" an original bouzouki tune again with a driving rhythm. "Hypertension Blues," draws from his previous life as a physician and Russ describes the tune as Old Testament Theology meets Renal Physiology. "All Thumbs" is a rousing DADGAD guitar instrumental and the arrangement of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire" on the autoharp is well-played. This brings us to "Window in Heaven" a new Christmas song written from the perspective of a shepherd boy as he views the first Noel. It is a wonderful song and a highlight of the disc.
Russ Rentler has produced a fine recording that showcases his many talents. He is a gifted songwriter as well as a fine musician. If I were to make a recommendation to Rentler, it would be to establish a definitive style. He certainly has any number of strengths to choose from.--TD.
Mom & Pop's Coffeehouse Review 4/1/2005
"At Mom & Pop’s, our audiences are accustomed to hearing excellent performers. Every once in a while, however, there is one that stands out from the crowd. I heard more compliments after Russ’s concert and more requests to ask him back again than any other performer we have had over the past 11 years. His delightful witticisms and stories, excellent musicianship on a large variety of instruments, and well-written, meaningful songs won over our audience big time!"
Hard Luck Coffeehouse Review 11/6/2004
"Tonight, Russ opened with a dazzling tune on the hammered dulcimer with the hammers flying. His overall performance was a terrific mix of folk, celtic and blues-inspired tunes with multiple instrument changes interspersed with his off-beat humor and wry observations about events in his life, including his stomache churning entry into Manhattan from the Lincoln Tunnel that exacerbated his irritable bowel syndrome and had him choking on his Altoids. His was a most pleasurable set."
Rob Yoder from Daybreak 6/2005
Russ Rentler is a very pleasant surprise. A multi-instrumentalist with a natural minstrel voice, Rentler gives us a musical treat that is relaxing but with thoughtful and creative lyrics. In "Jewel of the Caribbean," he weaves his insightful lyrics around a simple guitar arrangement for a moving tug at our conscience, and pulls our chain with the whimsical "Maggie's Blues." Rentler's instrumental selections are masterful, whether played on hammered dulcimer, dobro, or myriad of other acoustic instruments