Moscow Rocks!

Richard Hume

Rock’n’roll is alive and kickin’ in Russia ! Moscow, Russia is one of the fastest growing rock ‘n’ roll scenes in the world. Like China and India in the global economy, it’s one of the biggest growth ‘economies’ in world r’n’r !

The clientele are mainly younger people. Russia has much fewer older rockers going back to the 50s or the UK Revival period of the 70s: The Communist Party and the history of the Soviet Union didn’t encourage such capitalist culture, although r’n’r developed here as elsewhere. I left the UK to live and work in Russia in 2004. The contrast that immediately struck me most between the rock’n’roll in the 2 countries was the different generations who follow the great music. Here in Russia younger people are joining and staying with it.

The best bands here in Russia are not just cheap imitations of the Western sound—they have their own style and stand up in comparison with all but the elite bands in the West. The quality of the best groups here is excellent. See what I mean by checking out the following great Russian Bands on www.youtube.com (in the youtube search engine box add “Moscow” after each band’s name): CORAL REEFS – GREAT PRETENDERS – VLADIMIR PANKRATOV AND REAL HOT BBQ – BEAT DEVILS – ALLIGATORS – RAW CATS – LEX AND TEAM – HIGH TONES – GAGARIN BROTHERS

The photos accompanying this article were taken at a High Tones concert at the Esse Jazz Cafe in November. The High Tones are a great example of a Russian group which can compete with the best Western bands, in terms of quality. They play red hot rockabilly—smokin’ !

I know all the above bands personally. As a lifelong Teddy Boy, I’ve been active on the rock’n’roll scene in Moscow since I arrived here. At some of the groups’ concerts, such as the Coral Reefs (best jive and swing band in Russia and Eastern Europe), I run free jive dance master classes for beginners. Jive is the ultimate rock’n’roll dance, a partner dance with a great history.

“What’s a Teddy Boy ?” I hear some of you ask. The answer is, “it’s a long story” ! Descriptions vary from ‘the original youth culture rebels’ (which is true) to ‘the first juvenile delinquents’ (which is a bit unfair !). Let’s just say the Teddy Boy movement is one of the most iconic in rock’n’roll culture.

Some venues in Moscow, for example the Esse Jazz Cafe, the Glastonbury Pub, Club Live, Club Nautilus and the Ocean Club, hold r’n’r events on a regular basis. Other clubs and venues also organise such concerts every now and then.

Big name rock’n’roll bands from the West do come to Moscow to perform. The last 3 such concerts I was personally involved in, from the point of view of helping to sponsor and organise the events, involved top bands from the UK and Germany. They were:

– Black Raven from Germany, the country’s number one Teddy Boy band

– The Jive Aces, the most famous jive and swing band in the UK

– Furious, from Liverpool, the World’s top Teddy Boy group.

All 3 groups put on unforgettable shows in Moscow.

If you’d like to experience Russian rock’n’roll by going to see a live band perform, or maybe be very brave (!) and have a go at learning to dance the jive at a free class, you can contact me at richardhume.hume@gmail.com or via my web-site at www.coopjive.co.uk

So hail Russian rock’n’roll, an important member of the World’s r’n’r family!

Finally, a totally unrelated rock’n’roll joke, dedicated to a band that allegedly did rock’n’roll no favours –

Q: What were the worst words ever said in rock’n’roll ?

A: How about we let Ringo sing one.