Russia Gets The Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times by Michael UrbanRussia Gets The Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times by Michael Urban

Russia Gets The Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times

byMichael UrbanAs told byAndrei Evdokimov

Paperback | April 2, 2004

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Michael Urban chronicles the advent of blues music in Russia and explores the significance of the genre in the turbulent, postcommunist society. Russians, he explains, have taken a music originating in the "low" culture of the American South and transformed it into an object of "high" culture, fashioning a social identity that distinguishes blues adherents from both the discredited Soviet past and the vulgar consumerism associated with the country's Westernization. While adapting the idiom to their own conditions, Russia's bliuzmeny (bluesmen) have absorbed the blues ethos encoded in the music by their American forebears, using it to invert their social world, thus deriving dignity and satisfaction from those very things that give one the blues.Based on more than forty interviews with blues musicians and fans, nightclub managers, and others, Russia Gets the Blues reveals the fascinating history of blues in Russia, from the initial mimicry of British blues-rock to the recent emergence of a specifically "Russian blues." The gradual mastering of the idiom in Russia has been conditioned by the culture of the country's intelligentsia, a fact explaining why, on one hand, bliuzmeny feel compelled to proselytize on behalf of the music, to share with others this treasure of "world culture," while, on the other, they perform blues almost exclusively in English—which almost no one understands—and condemn any and all efforts to make the music commercially successful.

Michael Urban is Professor of Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His books include The Rebirth of Politics in Russia. Andrei Evdokimov hosts All This Blues, a weekly radio show in Moscow. Michael Urban is Professor of Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His books include The Rebirth of Politics i...
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Title:Russia Gets The Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled TimesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.46 inPublished:April 2, 2004Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801489008

ISBN - 13:9780801489006

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Editorial Reviews

"Tracing Russian blues from the late 1960s to the present day, Michael Urban provides the first extensive account of its history and complex internal struggles. Blues culture in Russia—the First Moscow Blues Festival, the Arbat Blues Club, and the Dr. Blues Radio Show of the 1990s—is situated in a nuanced, comparative argument about the roots of slavery and serfdom, drawing on a range of cultural-studies theorists to foreground its connections to both alternative communities within the second world and to the global music industry. Both scholars and blues aficionados will find Urban's book an engaging read and an invaluable resource." - Nancy Condee, Department of Slavic Language and Literature and Director, Graduate Program for Cultural Studies, University of Pittsburgh