From Russia with Licks

The Knoxville News Sentinel ran a feature on Sunday (8/12) on Cheerful Diligence, a group of young bluegrass pickers from Russia who are spending their summer in East Tennessee. The five college students are in the US as a part of a YMCA-sponsored summer work program where young people from outside live and work in America, and get to know the language and culture more intensely than how it can be presented in school.

For these kids, that whole Cold War thing is just a history lesson. They were infants and toddlers when President Ronald Reagan’s "Evil Empire" was disintegrating.

They betray no suspicion of all things American, as some of their forebears did. On the contrary, they are embracing Americanism in almost all forms and learning the language.

And the music.

The members of the band are living in Maryville, TN (just outside of Knoxville), and will be performing at a number of bluegrass festivals before they return home in late September.

An earlier edition of this band morphed into Bering Strait, who toured extensively a few years ago.

Read the full piece on Cheerful Diligence at, the online home of The Knoxville News Sentinel.

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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.