Re-printed from Maggie’s Blue Suede News

In my article on Russian rock’n’roll in the last issue of the magazine, I reported on the very high quality of the bands here. Here’s an excellent example:

Vladimir Pankratov and Real Hot BBQ are a 4 piece, playing hot, smokin’ r’n’r. Their style is authentic 50s’, not just their sound but their look too. They’re relatively new, the band formed in 2010, but they’ve become rock’n’roll icons in Moscow and Russia.

Vladimir is the leader and vocalist, plus plays rhythm guitar and piano. He has real charisma on stage. It’s clear from his stage performance that he’s spent a lot of time studying the 50s style and the results are impressive. He is an actor and has also directed films. His father Alexander Pankratov is a very famous Russian actor and film director.

The band have regular gigs at many of the high prestige clubs in Moscow. One of the most notable of these is the Esse Jazz Café in the centre of Moscow, a premier venue for jazz and rock’n’roll events. I run many of my rock’n’roll jive dance classes there and on 21st July my class at the Café preceded the band coming on stage. One benefit of these classes is teaching non-dancers the basics, giving them the opportunity to try out what they’ve learned later on in the evening (instead of sitting and watching and wishing they could get out on the dance floor and jive !). And to be sure, the dance floor was fully occupied all evening.

On the night, my favourite tracks from the band were “Nervous Breakdown”, “Do what you did”, “Too much loving” and “Life begins at 4 O’Clock”, all served up in the authentic 50s style. Plus they can slow it down too while maintaining that rock’n’roll feel, witness “It’s only make believe” and “The treasure of love”. And maybe my number one favourite from their set is “Straight skirt”, a track the group have really sort of made their own – I love it !

Thankfully the band are not content to stick to the same song list and are continually adding to it with new material. One of the first questions I ever asked the group was, why not “Red Hot BBQ”? They advised it was because another group somewhere in the world has already taken that name, and the guys wanna be original and unique !

The audience, which mainly comprised followers of the band, dancers, plus regular customers of the Café some of whom hadn’t seen the group before, enjoyed the whole event hugely. If Russian people like something they’re very open with their feelings. So to coin a phrase, “the joint was jumpin'”.

In addition to Vladimir, their line-up comprises Oleg Ivanin on lead guitar, Michael Averyanov on double bass and Andrey Laptev on drums. Oleg has a distinguished history in Russian rock’n’roll, chiefly as lead guitarist for many years now for the Moscow rockabilly band the Great Pretenders. Andrey is a more recent musician on the scene, he’s rockabilly to his bones as well as being a bit of a dancer. Plus their friends of mine; so I hope Andrey won’t mind if I throw in a couple of drummer jokes:

“What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians?
A drummer.”

“Did you hear about the time the bass player locked his keys in the car?
It took two hours to get the drummer out.”

As we’re over a thousand miles away from the UK, here’s one way you can check out the group. Go to youtube and in the search box type “Vladimir Pankratov and Real Hot BBQ” and see what you think. For example, type in “Richard Hume and Real Hot BBQ” and you’ll see a video of a concert they did in June this year at the same venue.

So a great evening’s entertainment was had by all on 21/07/12. Real hot r’n’r, grilled on a roasting rock’n’roll barbeque. Smokin’ !

Richard Hume