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Country Music in Russia
April 8, 2008 16:28


('Vedi sebya khorosho' (Perfomed by ADO) )

Country music in Russia has forever become a symbol of something traditionally American. Thus it is little wonder that during Perestroika the Russian people started to reach for this style as embodying a genuine “oversea tidbit”.

Foreign Country Musicians in the USSR

By some miracle the legendary Pete Seeger, “fighter for freedom of world proletariat” appeared at the Moscow Festival of Youth and Students in 1957. For a few seconds the whole country was watching the young bearded English-speaking singer wearing a sweater and playing a classical five-stringed banjo, the spectacle broadcast as a piece of reportage on black-and-white Soviet TV sets.

 


Pete Seeger

In summer 1974 the famous Tennessee Ernie Ford with his historic song Sixteen Tons somehow visited Russia and gave a concert in the State Concert Hall “Rossia”. In summer 1976 the USA celebrated all over the world the 200th anniversary of their remarkable Constitution, while President Jimmy Carter befriended Brezhnev; so, an “ambassador” of American country music to Russia was chosen: it happened to be young Roy Clark with his “sunny music”, which was performed with a big band of Americans in the same “Rossia”. In 1978 the USSR was visited by musicians of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

The 1980 Olympic idiocy towards American sportsmen and, accordingly, to “workers of bourgeois culture” for five long years barred the way for American country musicians to the “ignorant” Soviet audience. Yet the International Youth Festival of 1985 brought Kris Kristofferson (who made friends with Andrey Makarevich and his Mashina Vremeni, and Alexander Gradsky), Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and smaller stars of American folk music.

And then on things began to take off: every year country stars from various countries came to Russia. “Country virus” turned highly contagious in this country. The above mentioned folk-singers went “to drink vodka” a second time, joined by Ricky Scaggs and many others.

 

Russian Country Musicians

But who wants just to attend to idols from abroad? The Soviet people also wanted to sing or at least to sing along. The first Russians to sing along were musicians of Vladimir Nazarov’s band who included a couple of country hits into their program back in the late 1970s. In 1975 the student band Ornament already sang real “country” under cover of respectable Soviet protest and struggle songs.

 

 


Yablochny Jack (Apple Jack)

('Koster' (Perfomed by Kukuruza) )

In 1986 the Ornament grew into Kukuruza (translated as Popcorn), which was practically the only country music band in its pure form in this country. Zhanna Bichevskaya, who dabbled in country music in the 1970s, later on closed the topic; Marina Kapuro after singing country for some time then turned to Russian folk.

('V gornitse' (Perfomed by Marina Kapuro) )

Meanwhile the popular Russian band Mashina Vremeni (translated as Time Machine) always sang rock-n-roll, which, however proved to be typical country, only in the Russian language. From 1989 to 1992 Moscow hosted a number of large-scale country music festivals under the title Farmer, which gathered together over twenty amateur bands from all over the USSR.

('Marionetki' (Perfomed by Mashina Vremeni) )

Today this style is quite popular in club music, and the list of Russian country bands is rather long: Grassmeister, Yablochny Jack (Apple Jack), Nichia (Draw), Vesely Dilizhans later renamed to Beringov proliv (Bering Strait), which gained special recognition in the USA – it was even nominated for Grammy (the fact became a real sensation in 2003), Country.ru with singer Alla Prokhorova, project of Irina Surina, project of Yulia Yostinya, Grigory Gladkov’s country songs for children and their parents, Vladimir Nazarov Folk Music State Theatre, Yuri Kotenko’s group Green Grass reconstructing culture of American Indians, Fine Street from Saint Petersburg and Country Saloon from Nizhni Novgorod.

('V_korobke s karandashami' (Perfomed by Grigory Gladkov) )


Look also: Russian Music

Sources:
 musmag.ru
 koncertagency.ru


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