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From Russia With Love—Gary Makes The Nice In Moscow And St. Petersburg

With 3 whirlwind live appearances in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the space of one month, Gary has been extremely busy furthering Russo-American relations this spring.

On April 21st he played a barnstorming full-on electric and acoustic solo show at Moscow's Central House of Artists before a delighted crowd that included the seminal Manchester punk band Gold Blade (also in the country for multiple appearances), avant-legends Henry Kaiser and John Oswald, and numerous Soviet scenemakers. Immediately following the concert he caught Gold Blade performing an incendiary set at Moscow's hip Chinese Pilot club, and then without catching a breath took a 9-hour night train which whisked him to beautiful St. Petersburg, scene of his first Russian appearance last summer at the Stereoleto Festival with Future Sound of London's psychedelic band Amorphous Androgynous. The occasion this time was Gary performing at the Sergei Kuryokhin International Festival (SKIF)—Gary had played the very first festival in NYC dedicated to the late Russian avant-garde musical visionary in the mid-90's at NYC's Knitting Factory under the aegis of sadly departed Boris Rayskin.

After jamming at the SKIF opening night reception and then soaking up some of that great Saint Petersburg energy in the company of promoter/bongo fury wildman Sasha Cheparukhin and his entourage at the exquisitely hip after-hours club Purga, where Gary jammed with the house reggae band, he joined his friend Henry Kaiser's band the next night for a guest appearance rave-up on the Captain Beefheart composition "Alice in Blunderland" in the huge SKIF mainspace (see photo here).

The following night, the SKIF Festival closing night, it was Gary's turn to shine solo (with an assist from Henry Kaiser as his guitar tech), as he wowed the mainspace audience with an hour long set that pulled out all the stops, receiving a rousing reception from the overflow crowd (thousands of people thronged the 3 day SKIF event, roaming the vast halls and taking in over 20 acts from all over the world on several levels and in multiple venues, including art, fashion and video installations). The closing night crowd had been alerted to Gary's concert by an interview and a preview of Gary's performance in the St. Petersburg Times that week. The evening finished with Gary being joined onstage by a dozen international experimental guitarists (including Henry Kaiser, swiss psychonaut Gerard Zbinden, and festival artistic director Alexei Pliousnine) for an avant-guitar jamboree called the Full Guitar Orchestra (see photo here).

And a splendid time was had by all...some of the other outstanding acts over the 3 day non-stop mashup that Gary managed to catch were a great Russian vocalese electronic conglomerate entitled Kosmik Opera, with singers from the famed Maryinksy Opera; the wild improv scat and skronk antics of Ned Rothenberg and Catherine Jauniaux; the urbane metal improv of Henry Kaiser, John Oswald and Lukas Ligeti trio; the femme fatale threesome Kolibri; France's legendary Magma with drummer/madman Christain Vander, and many other luminaries of the psychic music wars.

Two weeks later Gary returned to Moscow in the company of Amorphous Androgynous, the Future Sound of London's psychedelic band, comprising himself and leader Garry Cobain (samples, vocals), Baluji Shrivastav (sitar), brothers Mikey and Stewart Rowe (keyboards and guitar respectively) and percussionist Tim Weller, with a massive light show behind them courtesy of FSOL co-leader Brian Dougans. The event was a huge open air free festival in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the most popular Moscow magazine Afisha (the Russian equivalent of Time Out), held on the bank of the Moscow River (Luzhniki Embankment).

Before an estimated 10,000 fans, Amorphous Androgynous held sway over the crowd with their psychedelic electronic sounds, beginning at 10pm on May 15th under the famous White Nights' purple skies, and finishing an hour later by order of the police, who were strictly enforcing an 11pm curfew. Afterwards Gary signed dozens of autographs (on albums, ticket stubs, ruble notes, arms, legs, etc.) for the crush of fans who pressed against the wire mesh fence enclosing the backstage area, electrified by the warm reception of the Russian people.