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.
I have just gotten back from our Yekaterinburg show today and oh my goodness…..what a blessed event it was. The Poor Mountain Boys and myself were the trail blazers for their first bluegrass festival and to say it was a shining success would be slightly understated. The crowd was smashed in sideways and their warm reception was like a cup of hot chocolate on a winter night, soothing and delicious! We heard laughter during my funny stories about songwriting thanks to our wonderful translator, and we heard clapping to all the barn burners and honest roars at the end of our songs. It was a great day for bluegrass in the Urals!
To share how sincere these lovely people are, I had a gentleman who did not speak our language come up to me after our show with my interpreter to tell me that in old Russia there was a saying that only Russians had soul but he looked into our souls through our songs and now knows that Americans have soul too! He said it with so much conviction that there were tears in his eyes. These Russians are loving Bluegrass.
There was much ado today over the band name Poor Mountain Boys…..they think we are extremely poor…(lol)! I had to repeat in many interviews with the Russian Media that there really is a Poor Mountain in Virginia and YES we are poor in Donald Trump terms, but rich in music and friends! They got the biggest kick out of that.
I am starting to grow sad because tomorrow will be our last show and I will have to bid farewell to these precious folks. It will be hard to say dosvadonya (goodbye), but I know I am leaving them with a taste for new music.
The United States Consulate has done a wonderful thing for the country of Russia by exposing them to our cherished mountain music! I have never been more proud to be an American.
Here is a video which Robert Paloma shot and edited which includes some snippets from Donna and the boys’ shows….
…and another of them performing with a group of young Russian pickers in Yekaterinburg.