wild dandelion stomping with bamboogie injections

Posted on

by — Posted in The Sixties

THIS AR­TI­CLE is an in­tro­duc­tion to Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions, a con­tem­po­rary Rus­sian surf band, with a look at their first al­bum, Wild Dan­de­lion Stomp­ing. It is also a very brief look at the Rus­sian surf mu­sic scene of the past—something few of us who grew up in the '60s were aware ex­isted. We did know that deca­dent West­ern rock & roll was ab­solutely for­bid­den in the USSR and Soviet-bloc coun­tries, but ap­par­ently some of the mu­sic pen­e­trated the Iron Cur­tain.

Surf mu­sic is un­pop­u­lar in Rus­sia, but Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions plays surf mu­sic de­spite that.

There was a hot mar­ket for smug­gled records and tapes from ra­dio broad­casts. Sup­pos­edly, there were bootleg records of Elvis, Beat­les, Stones, and oth­ers pressed into dis­carded med­ical and den­tal x-ray plates!

But West­ern rock mu­sic and mu­si­cians never of­fi­cially made it past the Iron Cur­tain in the '60s. Things changed with time: the first big con­cert fea­tur­ing West­ern rock­ers was sched­uled for July 3, 1988, and was head­lined by the Beach Boys and Paul Mc­Cart­ney!

It was to take place on Palace Square in Leningrad, the site of many mil­i­tary pa­rades and May Day demon­stra­tions. Also on the bill were Joan Baez and Car­los San­tana along with sev­eral So­viet stars, such as the Pes­nyary, the Ariel, and Alla Pu­ga­chova. Un­for­tu­nately, the Party old guard had a change of mind and can­celled the show at the last mo­ment.

For­tu­nately, the up­roar by fans led to a full-scale tour of Rus­sia in May 1979 by El­ton John. This paved the way for more artists to en­ter and per­form rock mu­sic in Com­mu­nist coun­tries.


Dandelion: photo of Russian pop group the Singing Poyushchiye Gitary (Singing Guitars) in the 1960s.

Pho­tos and videos of the Singing Gui­tars usu­ally show a group of four gui­tar play­ers with a key­boardist and/or a drum­mer. This im­age was ap­par­ently taken from a tele­vi­sion video (hence the fuzzy qual­ity) and shows the four gui­tarists with a trum­pet player. This photo makes the group look more like a po­lite ver­sion of the Amer­i­can Breed than an early '60s surf band.

There were Singing Guitars

What we didn't hear was that there ac­tu­ally was a Rus­sian rock & roll scene and the kings of that scene were a band called Poyuschie Gi­tary, or the Singing Gui­tars. They were the So­viet Union's first rock band to reach large-scale suc­cess and pop­u­lar­ity in the So­viet Union, East­ern Eu­rope, and even in a few non-bloc na­tions.

In 1968 or '69, they were the first Rus­sian band al­lowed to re­lease a pop-rock al­bum. The 10-inch record in­cluded vo­cal and in­stru­men­tal tracks, some of which was surf mu­sic! There are also videos of the group per­form­ing in 1969.

Dandelion: photo of Russian pop group Electron (Электрон) in the 1960s.

Ahh, now these guys look like a surf band! A po­lite, ventures-like surf band, granted, but nonethe­less an early '60s en­sem­ble. What's miss­ing? A big bass drum with the group's name. (These guys look like they could have served as the role model for Devo, mi­nus the strange ap­parel.)

And there were Electrons

There are sev­eral Eng­lish spellings at­trib­uted to this group: Poyuschie Gi­tary, Poyushchiye Gi­tary, and Po­jushie Gi­tary seem to be the most com­mon. Pho­tos on the In­ter­net with one of these names de­pict a 4 or 6-man gui­tar group ala the Shad­ows. 

There was an­other So­viet band in the '60s called Elec­tron (Электрон) that played in­stru­men­tal surf mu­sic more closely then Poyuschie Gi­tary. For ex­am­ples of Electron's mu­sic, click here. The first 4:30 of this YouTube en­try is rather lame pop mu­sic, but things kick into gear af­ter that and we hear gen­uine surf mu­sic.

But like most of the world, surf mu­sic lost fa­vor with a Rus­sian au­di­ence and more or less dis­ap­peared! Rus­sian bands did not pick up on the surf mu­sic re­vival of the late 1970s and early '80s. So there is al­most no surf scene there today—except . . .

Dandelion: photo of the three members of Bamboogie Injections in 2016.

And now a con­tem­po­rary Rus­sian surf band: they may look like a '70s punk band, but they play the type of mu­sic that was pop­u­lar for a few years in the early '60s. Af­ter the British In­va­sion, in­stru­men­tal rock, pop, and soul records re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion from AM ra­dio sta­tions of record buy­ers, and surf mu­sic was for­got­ten un­til the surf re­vival of the early '80s.

Now there's Bamboogie Injections

Surf mu­sic—real in­stru­men­tal surf mu­sic led by a heav­ily vi­bra­toed guitar—is alive and well and back in Rus­sia! An out­fit call­ing them­selves Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions plays surf-based rock & roll mu­sic. In it, they mix el­e­ments of psy­che­delia and punk but it comes out sound­ing like waves from the Bering Sea slap­ping the beaches of Kam­chatka.

Last year, they re­leased their first al­bum, WILD DAN­DE­LION STOMP­ING. I like the ti­tle and see two in­ter­pre­ta­tions: one gives me a men­tal im­age of a wild dan­de­lion stomp­ing some­thing, per­haps a preda­tory in­sect. This is the po­etic in­ter­pre­ta­tion (un­less dan­de­lions in your part of the world have feet and are am­bu­la­tory).

The other in­ter­pre­ta­tion pro­vides an im­age of an event where wild dan­de­lions are stomped by hu­mans as a step in the trans­for­ma­tion of this ubiq­ui­tous flower into a potable, in­tox­i­cat­ing wine. In fact, the mu­sic on the al­bum could be played to mo­ti­vate the stomp­ing of the dan­de­lion petals into mash.

Dandelion: cover of the album WILD DANDELION STOMPING from 2016.

The fab­u­lous cover art for Bam­boo­gie Injection's first al­bum is by gui­tarist Den Ko­valev. It does not look like any kind of art that one would as­so­ciate with beaches and wood­ies and Dick Dale and the Chan­tays (al­though it wouldn't look to out of place on a late '60s Beach Boys al­bum).

Now for some wild dandelion stomping

WILD DAN­DE­LION STOMP­ING was is­sued in June 2016; it is be­ing ad­ver­tised as a sort of psy­che­delic surf mu­sic. For read­ers in­ter­ested in real '60s surf mu­sic, re­lax: the psy­che­delia on this al­bum con­sists mainly of a few taste­ful, tech­ni­cal flour­ishes. For the most part, the mu­sic is joy­ously '60s style surf rock!

The al­bum was recorded by a 3-piece band con­sist­ing of:

Den Ko­valev: gui­tars, vo­cals
Kate Bam­boo­gie: bass, key­boards, vo­cals
Kir­ill Kachanov: drums

The al­bum was is­sued in Sep­tem­ber 2016 as a CD-only on Surf Cookie Records (SC003). There are eleven tracks on the al­bum: eight orig­i­nals by Den, and two orig­i­nals by Den and Kate.

Ban­zai Washout was writ­ten by Los An­ge­les ses­sion mu­si­cian Steve Dou­glas and first recorded by Dick Dale & His Del­tones in 1964. Arrange­ments by Den and Kate. Den also ap­pears to have pro­duced the al­bum at Wild­sound Stu­dio in Moscow, Rus­sia, Moscow.

As­tra Incog­nita (Ko­valev)
Bog For­ma­tion (Ko­valev)
Cig­a­r­il­lo­man (Ko­valev)
900SP Test At The Blind Cen­ter (Ko­valev)
Rain­bow Hunter (Ko­valev)
Dan­de­lion Wine (Ko­valev)
Ban­zai Washout (Dou­glas)
Walk­ing With Nighthawk (Kovalev-Kate)
Tube Dance (Ko­valev)
Timestrik­ers (Kovalev-Kate)
In­stro­duc­tion To (Ko­valev)

Most of these ti­tles are fairly in­nocu­ous, more in line with surf songs of the early '60s rather than psych songs of the late '60s. Ex­cept for one: As­tra Incog­nita com­bi­nes two Latin words that means 'stars' and 'un­mapped' or 'un­charted.' So I read it as Un­charted Stars.

WILD DAN­DE­LION STOMP­ING is avail­able as a com­pact disc or as a dig­i­tal down­load Check these sites for the best deal based on your ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion:

Surf Cookie Records
CD Baby

And of course they have a Face­book page!

Dandelion: photo of Den Kovalev and Kate Bamboogie of Bamboogie Injections.

A rare photo of Den and Kate.

Q&A with Kate Bamboogie

There is very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion on the group on the Internet—at least in Eng­lish! So I had a ques­tion & an­swer ex­change via email with Kate Bam­boo­gie. I kept it brief and to the point. My ques­tions are ital­i­cized while Kate's an­swers are in stan­dard print: 

1. How long have you been Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions?

As Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions, we have ex­isted since the be­gin­ning of 2016.

2. Did Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions play or record with an­other name?

We had an­other name a long time ago, but we wouldn't like to men­tion it be­cause it's not im­por­tant for us now. (We had no re­leases un­der the old name.) Dur­ing the six or so years be­fore 2016, we per­formed shows while Den Ko­valev was work­ing on orig­i­nal ma­te­rial of surf-rock in­stru­men­tal stuff. It was the time when surf mu­sic com­pletely filled our minds!

3. How old are you three?

We are 25–35 years old.

4. Is there an ac­tive club scene in Rus­sia where you play surf-type mu­sic reg­u­larly?

Surf mu­sic is a VERY un­pop­u­lar style in Rus­sia, so there isn't re­ally an ac­tive surf scene here. But we play surf de­spite it.

5. Why haven't you re­leased WILD DAN­DE­LION STOMP­ING as a vinyl LP?

We plan to is­sue vinyl later. (Of course we think about it.)

6. Where is WILD DAN­DE­LION STOMP­ING sell­ing?

We is­sued the al­bum on a Eu­rope la­bel, but not in Rus­sia. There are many more peo­ple in­ter­ested in surf mu­sic in Eu­rope. At present we have sales in Eu­rope, Mex­ico, and United States.

7. Why haven't you re­leased as sin­gle?

We made a de­ci­sion that the first record had to be an al­bum, be­cause it's the log­i­cal step for a mostly un­known band.

Dandelion: painting of a beach scene with surf band and dancers by Tiki artist Shag.

FEA­TURED IMAGE:Bamboogie In­jec­tions will be ap­pear­ing at the 12th edi­tion of the Surfer Joe Sum­mer Fes­ti­val 2017 on June 23, 2017. Billed as the “World's #1 Surf Mu­sic Event,” it is held held in Livorno, Italy.

Surf mu­sic is un­pop­u­lar in Rus­sia, but Bam­boo­gie In­jec­tions plays surf de­spite it. Click To Tweet

2 thoughts on “wild dandelion stomping with bamboogie injections

    1. Thanks, Jer! I was sur­prised, too. Who'd a thunk of the USSR hav­ing ANY kind of rock & roll scene in the '50s!

      Give the WILD DAN­DE­LION STOMP­ING al­bum a few spins—you might en­joy it!

      I think I re­mem­ber read­ing about the "bootlegs" made from dis­carded x-ray plates in an is­sue of Elvis Monthly in 1966 or so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *