HE HEART OF RUSSIAN COUNTRY

What is Russian-American country music like, and how did it develop? Well, first of all it is important to realize that until the mid-1980s country music was a distant, exotic sound to which few Soviet citizens had any exposure at all. What we did have was our own tradition of ancient and honorable bards who united around their favorite guitars, softly singing of camp-fires, mountains and brigan-tines. Then there was the young and angry generation of rockers screaming with hoarse or piercing, high-decibel voices about social evils, risking their vocal cords, electric guitar strings and social standing. Pop exploited themes of multi-colored roses and chrysanthemums, and was interested only in money. Jazz was a thing in itself, not very accessible to the general public, and not at all conducive to lyrics. Only young musicians with violins, banjos, acoustic guitars, double-bass, harmonicas and Dobros, and with souls of poet-folklorists ("folkniks") were insouciant and funny. Rockers sent them to bards, and bards sent them somewhere very far away.

Nevertheless, the sounds and culture of American country music have quietly seeped into the former USSR: four international country music festivals - Farmer-89, -90 -91 and 92 -have already been organized, and the Moscow Country Club now unites more than twenty country and bluegrass groups from all over Russia. P.S. I shall be happy if my book becomes the hero of this Woody Guthrie song: