Donna Ulisse travelogue – Day 3

Donna Ulisse is providing us with a diary from her visit to Russia with her band, The Poor Mountain Boys. The trip is by invitation from the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission.

Today (and I am not sure what day it truly is anymore) started off a little left footed for me. We stayed up very late last night jamming with the other two bands playing at the festival in the lobby/bar of our hotel. Rethinking it today as I woke in a start, late for our breakfast, I should have gone to bed a little sooner.

Vera took me on a tour of a lace museum and it was spectacular. Vologda is known for this craft and it is exquisite. We returned to the hotel and had only 5 minutes before we left for the festival…so…no shower, no makeup, no good sense, just me and the Poor Mountain Boys on our way to a park where an old Russian village called Semenkovo has been preserved. This would be the site for today’s show.

We were given a private tour of these great old log structures and a warm history lesson of days gone by, and how folks here lived years ago. Wow….it was so interesting and our tour guide was the most precious girl, speaking enough English for us to get a feel for how life was for a Russian farmer.

After the tour we had a wonderful surprise in store. They prepared a traditional Russian meal for us and a folk group that works at this park serenaded us during the meal. It was the most enjoyable experience. The food was incredible, the vodka flowed like water, the toasts to good friends and life were numerous, there was dancing and singing and games afoot! I will be posting some glimpses of this on YouTube at some point… was so very special! I had tears in my eyes for the first 20 minutes of the lunch… emotional and honored that they went to all this trouble for us. I am still overwhelmed.

Then we took to the stage and did our bluegrass to a very happy audience. After the show we did several television interviews and so many folks came up to talk with us. Greg Davis gave a banjo workshop and of course we jammed with the players again. These Russian musicians are waiting for me now to join them back downstairs again…..they sure do love their bluegrass music here and want to pick every second. So I will leave you now and go sing…..

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.