Arsen Shomakhov and his blues band Ragtime from Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, within the last 3 years turned from an unknown provincial band into the leading act of the Russian blues scene due to the band's hard work, their love of the music and, of course, the remarkable talent of the band's guitarist - Arsen Shomakhov. A well-known and respected Russian blues journalist Andrei Evdokimov made a good joke while handing an award to Arsen at the Blues.ru festival in Moscow, saying that Ragtime is the only Russian band rehearsing more often than performing in public.
A year ago the band released their debut album "Heavy steppin'", now considered to be one of the best Russian blues records. The album contains several covers of blues classics done with a difference but the most interesting tracks are the ones written by Arsen Shomakhov. For their second album "Troublemaker" the band decided to record mainly own songs; 7 out of the 10 album's tracks are written by Arsen - an unprecedented event for the Russian blues. All of the songs are just great, proving that Arsen is a world-class talent.
The style of the band went through a lot of changes during the past 15 years. It used to have the touch of jazz-rock by Scott Henderson and others, the band later demonstrating an ability to make quality covers of blues-rock by SRV and Hendrix as well as the blues masters. At present one can pick up in Arsen's playing influences of such guitar players as Ronnie Earl, Jimmy Vaughan and even the elements of swing from Charlie Baty. The band constantly moves ahead and experiments with different styles.
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