Hitting the Hi Notes

My article this month confirms the strength of Russian rockabilly. Here’s a band that knows how to hit the high notes (or tones) ……

The HiTones are a relatively new four-piece outfit, comprising a lead guitar, acoustic guitar, upright bass and drums. They hail from Moscow. They’ve become hugely popular on the rock’n’roll scene in Russia, particularly amongst the followers of rockabilly. Their leader is vocalist and acoustic guitar Alexey Schukin. He founded the group in 2010 with the aim to play authentic 50’s music. Alexey says their musical inspiration comes from the likes of Johnny Burnett, the Delta Bombers, Eddy and the Backfires and the Rhythm Shakers.

On 17th November the band played the Esse Café, one of the premier rock’n’roll venues in Moscow. A full crowd comprised rock’n’rollers, dancers and regular café patrons – none were disappointed ! It was a great evening of hard drivin’ 50’s rockabilly.

A key element of the group is lead guitar Vladimir Khoruzhiy, one of the best guitarists in Russia. He also does the odd harmonica number. The bassist Alexey Nikitin and the drummer Vladimir Malashonok provide the solid rockabilly beat that helps give them that authentic sound. Malashonok is a veteran of many Russian bands: He’s a fine musician, despite what they say about drummers …………

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But Schukin is the real leader, not least with his presence on stage. He puts on a real performance. It’s clear he’s done a lot of studying to get that raw, authentic rockabilly feel.

The band started off covering versions of popular hits, but in 2011 The Hitones started composing their own original songs. This was followed in March 2012 with the release of a single, “I’m gonna leave you”. The release of a full length CD is planned for early next year.

On the night, my favourite cover versions that the band played included “Everybody’s movin”, “Long blonde hair” and “Let’s go boppin’ tonight”. Of their own compositions, I liked especially “I’m gonna leave you”, “Baby please come back” and “Electric dreamer”. Their set is more or less a 50 / 50 balance between original and cover versions.

Have a listen to the band yourself and see what you think. Go to youtube and type “HiTones Moscow’ in the search engine box. Or go to their home page at http://www.reverbnation.com/hitonesrussia

And sit back and listen to hard drivin’ rockabilly, Moscow-style !

Richard Hume