Texas violins on the banks of the Neva

If You’re Gonna Play In Texas arranged by Larry Moore

Texas violins on the banks of the Neva

The II Festival of Traditional American Music has opened in St. Petersburg

The II Festival of Traditional American Music has opened in St. Petersburg. The program was compiled with the participation of the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress, the experts of which selected the participants of the current festival. It will be held in three stages – from 14 to 22 March, then from 4 to 11 April and finally from 11 to 17 May. The festival is opened by a group called The Quebe Sisters Band. It includes the Hold sisters Sophia and Grace Quibi, who play American fiddle violins and perform vocals, as well as guitarist Joey Mackenzie and bassist Gavin Kelso..

US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote in his welcoming address to Russian audiences: “Each of the bands performing at the festival – The Quebe Sisters, The Modern Blues Masters and Los Texmaniacs – are a true national treasure of the United States. Their contribution to American and world folk music culture is highly regarded by both stern critics and millions of listeners around the world. “.

The artists named by the ambassador represent three styles of American traditional music, respectively: Western swing, Piedmont blues and Texas-Mexican conjunto style. At first glance, it seems that, with the possible exception of the blues, these genres are not very familiar to Russian listeners. However, in reality, Western swing is a kind of country, and often sounded in black and white cowboy films that were shown in the Soviet Union after the war “as a trophy.” Conjunto can be qualified as one of the feats of the Latinos style, which is extremely beloved in Russia – it is incendiary dance music performed exclusively in Spanish..

“We realized that people here want to listen to new music”

The first Festival of American Traditional Music was held in Russia in March-April 2012 as part of the American Seasons in Russia program under the auspices of the Bilateral Russian-American Presidential Commission and with the support of the US Embassy. The festival was organized by the CEC Artskink charity foundation. And the first platform for American musicians was the St. Petersburg State Philharmonic of Jazz Music.

The Foundation’s program director, Susan Katz, in an interview with the Voice of America, noted that the First Festival received good reviews in Russia. “When we held the festival for the first time, we didn’t know at all what the reaction to our music would be,” says Susan Katz. “And we were surprised that the audience liked all the bands that we brought.”.

Susan Katz

A year ago, the organizers brought in artists performing gospel, cajun and North American Indian music. The audience in ten Russian cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, received performers from the United States very warmly. Susan Katz says that “we realized that the Russian audience is interested in music that is unusual for them. People want to listen to new sounds and they are very open to new directions. ” This is how the idea came about to organize the Second Traditional American Music Festival..

“We Come from Cowboy Movies”

The Quebe Sisters Band are winners of the Crescendo Award for Western Music, and their Timeless album (which includes evergreen standards like Take The ‘A’ Train and Georgia On My Mind) was named the Academy’s Best Western in 2008 … The band took part in the legendary Nashville radio show Grand Ole Opry, and former Lynyrd Skynyrd member Ed King once exclaimed, “I’ll travel thousands of miles to hear The Quebe Sisters again!”.

In a conversation with the Voice of America correspondent, the Quaybies talked about the sources of their inspiration. “The music we play is pretty much the style of the 30s, 40s and 50s. At the same time, most of the songs were written, which we included in our repertoire, they are very well known in America, “says Sofia Kveybi.

Texas violins on the banks of the Neva

“We perform a lot of songs from films with the participation of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry (famous American film stars of the 30s – 50s, who created the images of singing cowboys – GA). We also took part in the Gene Autry Cowboy Music Festival, which takes place in California, on the same stage where westerns are filmed, ”Grace said. “Therefore, of course, the spirit of good old cowboy cinema is present in our music”.

Many famous performers said that their love for traditional music – country, gospel, jazz, blues – was instilled in them by their older relatives, who themselves often listened to records with the classics of these genres. However, the parents of the Quibi sisters were not music lovers..

And we cannot say that our house was filled to the brim with records. It actually started with a music festival in Denton, Texas. I was seven then, Sophia ten, Grace twelve. That is, at a very young age, we ourselves plunged into this music.

Holda Quibi

“And we can’t say that our house was filled to the brim with records, – recalls Holda. It actually started with a music festival in Denton, Texas. I was seven then, Sophia ten, Grace twelve. That is, at a very young age, we ourselves immersed ourselves in this music “.

The sisters began to take lessons in playing the fiddle, and from the very beginning they showed great ability and perseverance in achieving mastery..

“We love to go to music stores,” says Sofia Kveybi. – Of course, we take new records, but we also really like the old music. We are crazy about Ella Fitzgerald, as well as from the many artists whose portraits adorn the walls of this wonderful hall. “.

The interview took place on the second floor of the Philharmonic of Jazz Music, in the Museum of St. Petersburg Jazz, where, in addition to local jazzmen, there are photographs of legendary musicians – Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and many others.

“Do they play country music here too? It is fantastic!”

The girls admitted that they are not very familiar with Russian folk music, but they hope, at least in part, to fill this gap during the current ten-day tour. And when the Quibes found out that there are music clubs in St. Petersburg where local musicians play rockabilly and country and western, they clapped their hands happily: “This is just fantastic! Sophia exclaimed. – It’s so cool that the guys here play the same music as we do! I would like them to come to our concert, and it would be even better if they could come to America. This, of course, is very far away, and it will require a lot of money. But it would give them the opportunity to experience where the music they play came from. They would understand its origins and then perform it with even greater enthusiasm. “.

the poster of the Quebe Sisters

“When we first flew here,” Sofia continued, “the radio was on in the car that drove us. And we have heard a lot of songs in English performed by American artists. And, of course, on the one hand, we are glad that American music is so warmly received everywhere. But I would really like to see music in other languages, from different countries of the world also widely represented in America “.

After the concert in St. Petersburg, The Quebe Sisters Band will continue their tour in Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk. And they will finish the Russian tour with a performance in Moscow.

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