Q&A with versatile guitarist /vocalist Levan Lomidze of The Blues Cousins, one of the Best Blues Band in Russia

I believe that soul always plays main role on the blues scene. Technique is very important as a method of expression thou. I think that the blues is not just another style of music. It’s something more, wider and stronger, with ability to unite people and survive through the years."

Levan Lomidze: The Man And His Blues

In 2000 the Blues Cousins was awarded the best blues band at “Blues Sur Seine” festival in France among 57 bands from all over the globe. Few weeks later Levan Lomidze (lead guitarist and the singer) was awarded by the Moscow government for the gig –“Blues Against the Drugs”. In 2003 and 2004 the band made two big (three month) tours in USA performing more than 70 gigs and took part in 15 blues festivals in Washington, Idaho , Montana and other. THE BLUES COUSINS are said to be the "Best Blues Band in Moscow, Russia." Interesting! Obviously then, there must be several other blues bands in the city. This could virtually make Moscow a city with a better blues community than many in America. The band, which has been together for many years, consists of LEVAN LOMIDZE on guitar and lead vocals, SLAVA IGNATOV on drums and background vocals, and SERGEY PATRUSHIEV on bass. "ALIVE IN THE U.S.A." was recorded live at the Sunbanks Blues Festival, in Grand Coulee, WA, during the bands second trip to America. As is the case with many foreign blues bands, playing and being recorded in the country where the blues was born was a dream come true for the BLUES COUSINS.

(Photo: Guitarist /vocalist Levan Lomidze, one of the top 10 most honored guitarists in Russian history)

The Blues Cousins explode on stage with there 12- bar blues/rock, guaranteed to blow listeners away. Considered the hottest blues act in Russia, Blues Cousins features versatile lead guitarist /vocalist Levan Lomidze (among the top 10 most honored guitarists in Russian history) playing riffs reminiscent of Carlos Santana's note-banding stile and Jimi Hendrix's tremolos. Levan Lomidze says: "Now I’m 60 and having huge experience behind I believe that my sound comes first from my emotional state and only after from the guitar and gear. My creative drive comes from my audience. Each gig works as a charger for my battery)."

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

The structure of the blues, such as the cord progression and scale are very simple. So, it takes big amount of talent and passion to make something interesting out of it. It’s not a kind of music you can learn at the collage. You must contribute some piece of you to become a bluesman. I would call it the wisdom of simplicity, that's what the blues means to me.

How do you describe your sound and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

Now I’m 60 and having huge experience behind I believe that my sound comes first from my emotional state and only after from the guitar and gear. My creative drive comes from my audience. Each gig works as a charger for my battery).

What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

I was born and raised in the USSR. where blues and rock’n roll music were almost banned. We had really hard times to get quality Records. And when great BB KING came to Tbilisi (my hometown) in 1978 it became a miracle for me. I was a schoolboy still learning to play the guitar and after I saw mister King performing live, my priorities have changed forever.

Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Russia?

Russia has huge classical and folk music traditions. Russian audience is very sensitive to music. They have a very delicate taste and gratefully accepts honest and soulful performance.

"I miss expectations for the new albums from Johnny Winter, BB King, Albert Collins etc... Expectations for something new and unexpected. I hope someday new generation of blues musicians will surprise us with something very new and very dear to us." (Photo: Russian guitarist /vocalist Levan Lomidze)

Make an account of the case of the blues in Russia. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

The most interesting period in Russian blues scene is a summer. Time of open-air festivals attracting thousands of blues fans.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss expectations for the new albums from Johnny Winter, BB King, Albert Collins etc... Expectations for something new and unexpected. I hope someday new generation of blues musicians will surprise us with something very new and very dear to us.

What's the balance in music between technique and soul? What is the role of Blues in today’s society?

I believe that soul always plays main role on the blues scene. Technique is very important as a method of expression thou. I think that the blues is not just another style of music. It’s something more, wider and stronger, with ability to unite people and survive through the years.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

As a beginner I tried to sound like my blues idols. Then I found that it was a dead end. I was trapped, couldn’t move forward. Later I made a decision to become myself on the stage. We all are deferent, with deferent temper, deferent accents, deferent attitudes and this diversity is magic and beautiful I said to myself. And you know what?!  It worked. Every weekend I become the happiest man on earth, as I enter the blues club and see my audience came to see me. Returning home can get no sleep , not because I’m tired  but because I’m still hear the chorus: “Hey Hey the Blues is All Right”!

The Blues Cousins - Home

(Photo: The Blues Cousins, considered the hottest blues act in Russia, are LEVAN LOMIDZE on guitar and lead vocals, SLAVA IGNATOV on drums and background vocals, and SERGEY PATRUSHIEV on bass.)

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