umka performs in san francisco
A few words about a November 10 show, “Bronevik” (Armored Vehicle), billed simply as “Russian Band”.
Jeremy Wilson, the opening act, was the lead singer/song writer for a well-known, world traveled Portland, Oregon band called ‘The Dharma Bums’. In May 2005 Umka and Boris, the lead singer, songwriter and the lead guitarist for “Bronevik”, from Moscow, recorded their first American CD in Jeremy Wilson’s recording studio in Portland, a studio he hand built. Eric Lovre, lead guitarist for “The Dharma Bums,” engineered the live performance recording.
This is the long way of saying how ‘The Beat Goes On”. As you know, the 50th anniversary of “Howl”, the famous Gallery 6 reading, was just this October 7. Umka, who has written over 400 songs, and released 20 CD’s, is an underground legend in Russia. Maybe her final act, before leaving her life as a professional translator, was to translate Jack Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums” and “Big Sur” into Russian. And it was the Beats who taught her about freedom to follow her road (daroga), music, which she has done passionately ever since, having performed in 80 different places all over the world, from Irkutsk (Siberia) to Portland, Oregon.
Here is what Umka has to say about her band “Bronevik” in her own words:
For us, American music was the soil on which we grew. Blues and rock'n'roll were our groove, our love, our fight, our lullaby. The great 60s was our nostalgia. Though we never saw them they became our past that we never lived through. We idealized the 60’s music of course, but the wilder was our response. For 20 years, we've been playing this kind of music in the ever-changing Russia. We sing it in Russian, in our own words. Nowadays, they try to establish some "show business" rules in Russia; they (the people who have wealth and money) also try to de- "Americanize", in some sense. For us, the pop music establishment never existed - when it was ruled by Soviet ideology and now, when ruled by somebody's money. We go our independent way (no labels, no artificial promotion, no PR money), printing and selling our CDs ourselves, traveling all over the country and abroad. To play in America, especially San Francisco, was one of my wildest dreams, and now it comes true. We have a big crowd of Russian emigrant fans, but we also want to play for local crowd. Maybe we can remind you of better times.
Nic, my husband, and I are artists. We saw two performances by Umka in Portland, Oregon in May. There we saw firsthand the reverence which young Russian immigrants to the US have for Umka. Russians from as far away as Seattle came to see a show that had only been booked one day before it actually happened. If the snow doesn’t stop us, we will be driving to San Francisco to see and maybe film the show at your club. A fantastic band of truly great musicians with memorable songs that transcend language barriers. A ‘beat’ night in ol Frisco!
Thanks to 'The Last Day Saloon' for booking them. Sloy