I have for sometime now been searching for good blues and blues/rock artists based out of the old Soviet Union, as this is one of the areas not well represented on our web site. While my search has up to now been fruitless, I am please to announce that I now have two that I will be recommending to you. The first comes via an excellent tip from one of our readers (thank you Sandy!) who sometime back alerted me to the outstanding work of Arsen Shomakhov & Ragtime.

Arsen Shomakhov is a world class guitarist, and at least based upon his work on “Troublemaker”, very much an electric blues guitarist. While
most of the modern blues/rock guitarists demonstrate more of a Stevie Ray/Hendrix flavoring, Shomakhov manages to blend these two influences with a huge dose of T Bone Walker creating a most enjoyable sound. He is supported on this set by the outstanding rhythm section Ragtime comprised of Aslan Zhantiuyev on bass and Sultanbek (Bek) Mamyshev on drums. The 11 tracks on the CD are 8 Arsen Shomakhov original tunes combined with 3 well chosen covers, demonstrating that Shomakhov is also a very capable song writer. The CD is well engineered, varied in tempo and style, contains some of the better electric blues instrumentals I have heard, and in general is excellent from beginning to end.

The set opens up with the stinging electric blues number (and Shomakhov original) title track and just continues to build momentum throughout. Along with the title track, some of my other favorites include a wonderful remake of Aaron Walker’s “T Bone Shuffle”, the fabulous electric blues tune “Give Me A Sign”, and a great instrumental track “Don’t Miss Your Train”. But, as mentioned before, this is a CD well worth consuming from beginning to end. If you are a fan of guitar driven electric blues style music, “Troublemaker” is going to be a MUST OWN for you.

“Troublemaker” from Arsen Shomakhov & Ragtime receives my highest possible recommendation to you. This is a brilliant artist whose career I will be watching closely and one from whom I expect to see and hear great things in the future. The CD is available online from our good friends at CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shomakhov). You may also visit the band online at www.arsenic.blues.ru.

Important Note: After writing this review I received the following message from Sandy about the band:

“Hi Tom, just a note to tell you that Chechen rebels attacked Nalchik, where Arsen, Aslan, Bek and their families live, last Thursday. They are all “fine”, but the entire town is stunned and reeling from this appalling, unexpected incursion, and there was more violence today as security continued to seek out more gunmen. I hope you will keep them and all of Nalchik in your thoughts during this terrible time.”

I pray for not only Arsen, Aslan, and Bek and their families, but for our entire world as well and I encourage you folks to all do likewise.

Tom Branson

The Band:

Arsen Shomakhov: guitar, vocals
Aslan Zhantiuyev: bass
Sultanbek (Bek) Mamyshev: drums

The Tunes:

1. Troublemaker
2. I Am Ready
3. Dirty Girl
4. T-Bone Shuffle
5. Tick-Tock
6. Don’t Miss Your Train
7. I Don’t Know
8. She’s Dangerous
9. Give Me A Sign
10. In The Cold Light
11. Troublemaker (slight return)

© Bluesrockers 2004


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