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A Russian Lullaby

Article Published: Sep. 22, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 29, 2011
A Russian Lullaby

Mandolin player Tatiana Pechenova and guitarist Mikhail Dushin are bluegrass musicians from Russia who now make East Tennessee their home.

Photo by Fred Reaves

Living so close to the birthplace of country music and bluegrass, it’s sometimes hard for High Country music lovers to grasp the worldwide influence of those genres.

It’s only when you talk to musicians from other countries, such as the Kruger Brothers, that you get an idea of how powerful these American styles are in other lands.

Such is the case with Russian musician Michael (formerly Mikhail) Dushin. He leads an Eastern Tennessee bluegrass band called The Grass Pistols. The band will perform at Canyons of the Blue Ridge in Blowing Rock on Friday, Sept. 23.

The show is free, and the music starts at 9 p.m.

The Grass Pistols features Dushin on banjo and lead vocals, Tatiana Pechenova on mandolin and vocals, Rihat Salimov on bass and vocals, and Guy Jeter on guitar and vocals.

The Grass Pistols traces its roots to the long-standing band called Country Saloon that was organized at the Institute of Languages in the Russian city of Gorky.

“At first, it was a good tradition at the Institute, and the newcomers changed the graduates in the group,” Dushin said. “That was a kind of pleasant hobby for those students who played in the band.”

In addition to playing country and bluegrass music, members of Country Saloon traveled around Europe and attended music festivals, such as Fermer in Moscow, Country Fest in Saratov, Harku Jarve in Estonia, Essen in Germany, Visagino Country in Lithuania and Big Country Music Day in Moscow.

In 2005, new musicians joined Country Saloon and began playing a mixture of traditional favorites, such as “Rocky Top” and “Banks of the Ohio,” as well as Dushin originals like “A Belly of Wine,” “The Cowboy Way” and “Get on Your Horse.”

Country Saloon was invited to perform in the United States in 2008, establishing a name for itself through concerts in Eastern Tennesse and Southwestern Virginia.

In 2009, the band jammed with bluegrass legend Peter Rowan at Vilnius Bluegrass in Lithuania. In 2010, with new members in tow, Dushin changed the name of his band from Country Saloon to The Grass Pistols.

For more information on Friday’s show, call Canyons at (828) 295-7661.

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