Yuri Naumov is well-established as one of Russia's greatest blues guitar players where he became a legend for his virtuosity.
Since moving to the United States, he has been hailed by Guitar World and The New Yorker Magazine as "a one-man band" who – with no overdubbing or sidemen – sounds on his tapes "as if three guitars were playing."
Naumov started his musical career in Siberia, while going to medical school. His records were bootlegged across the USSR through the eighties. Forced by the KGB to leave medical school for "spreading decadent western values," Naumov sought the safety first in St. Petersburg and then in Moscow. But he was hounded by the authorities from city to city and for years could perform only in secret.
His reputation preceding him, first as one of the Soviet Union's most popular rock stars and then as its most prominent and unique bluesman – credited with inventing the Russian blues – Naumov performed in apartments and other secluded venues in more than 30 cities.
Tired of running, Naumov decided in 1990 to take his music "home" to the birthplace of blues and rebuild his career in the United States. Entirely self-taught, Naumov grew up listening to the smuggled records of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and decided at age 8 to become a rock guitarist.
Today, he plays bass, rhythm and lead (and sometimes even "drums") on the single 9-string guitar which was custom-built for him in Moscow by famous violin maker Sergei Nozdrin. He does it without picks, using mainly his thumb and second finger – and 26 different tunings, together with licks, bends, harmonies, chords and counterpoints never before heard in standard blues.
Performing only his own tunes, Naumov now writes lyrics mainly in English but continues to sing in English and Russian, and he always performs alone. A music critic in Moscow, after hearing only Naumov's tapes, lost a bottle of the best vodka betting otherwise.
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Naumov crossed over to the "more intimate," "personal" blues, he says, because "when I play rock, I'm playing to a crowd. When I play blues, I'm speaking, one-on-one, to every individual in the crowd." His songs are full of urban angst and social isolation which in the end leave one wondering why one enjoys them so much and wants to hear his music more and more.
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Мой рок и блюз родились в моем сердце и сознании. Это – мой духовный ребенок. Но я пришел не на пустое место. Акустическая гитара существует столетия. Электрическая – свыше 70 лет. О духовных наставниках говорить трудно, скорее я бы сказал о старших братьях по разуму. Есть немало достойных имен в британском роке 60-70-х годов, повлиявших на меня. Наверное, наиболее родной по вибрации является музыка Лед Зеппелин.
Юрий Наумов ©, 2006.
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