The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! Not only the title of the 1966 comedy featuring Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin, it now stands for the country's latest export - the blues. One of the leading exponents of Russian blues is guitar player, singer and songwriter Arsen Shomakhov, who submitted a CD-R 'best of' with seven hot blues tracks, including his scorching instrumental "Dangerous". The tunes are pulled from his two CDs ("Troublemaker" and "Dangerous"), Shomakhov fronts the blues band Ragtime, who are one of the leading acts on the Russian blues scene. More instrumental tracks were included, such as "The Arsonist", a lyrical boogie perfect for a quick trip down the highway to the crossroads. Clearly if you are into blues, it would behoove you to hear what's currently coming out of Moscow - guys like Shomakhov are ready to impress.
The blues band Ragtime (after the E.L. Doctorow novel) was formed in 1991, and the band first participated in the St Petersburg Neva Delta Blues Festival, which in 2001 led to a series of gigs at the best blues venues in Moscow. In April of 2002, the band released their debut album, "Heavy Steppin'", which led to gigs at venues such as the legendary B.B. King Club in Moscow. It received good press and has enjoyed international and national (Russian) airplay. In May of 2003 the band received an award at the All-Russia Spring 2003 Blues Festival in Moscow, and was invited to participate in early September 2003 in the first International Moscow Blues Festival. That same month they released their second album, "Troublemaker", which they presented at the renowned Forte blues club in Moscow on December 4, 2003. "Troublemaker" is now considered to be one of the best Russian blues records, and was included in the Top 25 albums of the Australian "Blues Beat" program in 2003 and 2004.
In February of 2005, the band traveled to Memphis to participate in the International Blues Challenge under the auspices of "blues.ru", the Russian blues community. Astounding listeners at the Blues City Cafe with their remarkable covers of "I Am Ready" and "Dirty Girl", they then proceeded to tear the place apart with originals such as "Don't Miss Your Train", "She's Dangerous", and some songs from their third CD, to be released later this year.