FLYING BALALAIKA BROTHERS
The Flying Balalaika Brothers, founded in 1995 by Zhenya Rock (a.k.a. Zhenya Kolykhanov), the former lead guitarist of the Russian surf/rockabilly group Red Elvises. Band first began as an LA street band before establishing its roots in the musically zealous city of Austin, Texas. For nearly 20 years, the feisty group has entranced audiences with their unique blend of Gypsy folk, electric rock n' roll and eye-catching, interactive performances featuring instruments like the behemoth contra-bass balalaika, a triangle-shaped stringed instrument from Russia. The Flying Balalaika Brothers have been featured at international music festivals, as well as on television and in feature films and had a large history of performing for clubs, motion pictures, and radio shows.
The group’s name comes from the speed with which balalaika players’ fingers move while playing the instrument, which sounds similar to a banjo. Because of the tuning, they must employ a very fast technique with their left hands in order to play all the notes. Balalaika Brothers represent Russian, Ukrainian, Gypsy, Cossack folk music, crossover to bluegrass and many other international acoustic styles that can only be described as what happens when “Russian Caviar meets Texas Barbecue!”
Seamlessly moving from slower traditional Russian folk songs to guitar and drum-driven punk rock, the group's high-energy shows feel more like a block party than a performance. The band blends modern-day and traditional sounds to create a futuristic fusion of experimental world music. "Our shows are extremely interactive," says Flying Balalaika Brothers Founder Zhenya Rock. "Our concerts illuminate the passion, excitement, and sorrow for which the Gypsy music is famous for. Once audiences old and new experience the music, they begin to lose themselves in it's power and emotion," contra-bassist Aaryn Russell adds.
In addition to touring and performing, Flying Balalaika Brothers successfully presenting educational programs in three languages (English, Spanish and Russian) to students of Texas public and private schools, celebrating the arts in all its diversity by providing a unique approach to studying both the profound similarities and distinctive differences of people throughout history and around the world.
"Austin's Flying Balalaika Brothers are to Russian folk music what Béla Fleck is to bluegrass: Outside-the-box, no-boundaries, take-no-prisoners innovators. The FBBs combine jaw-dropping virtuosity with a masterful sense of mixing up genres ranging from rock to Russian folk to bluegrass; if that sounds weird, it's also cool as hell."
Review by WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH FROM HOUSTON-PRESS
"The Flying Balalaika Brothers were a joy to work with and brought to our theater and community the true International music experience. Their energy level and professional musicianship was top-notch. The crowd loved them and I heard more compliments from this concert than I have from any in my past year here at the West Plain Civic Center. The band also did a workshop in the afternoon demonstrating their instruments and talking about the music in-depth. They were very accommodating to the audience question. I highly recommend this band for a fun, educational night of Russian flying fingers. Truly a fun time was had by all."
Review by Deborah D. FROM WEST PLAINS, MO
"Flying Balalaika Brothers were the perfect band for our Oktoberfest event. They blew us away with their talent, and we will definitely book them again for next year's event. HIGHLY recommended!"
Review by Presley B. FROM BATON ROUGE, LA
"The band's high energy stage shows are more like block parties, a fact highlighted by the group's unique musical presence and the personal connection between its five members."
Review by Jesse Deleon, from Corpus Christi Caller-Times
"The Flying Balalika Brothers were AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our group was from all over the world. Everyone LOVED them from start to finish!"
Review by Tiffany W. FROM AUSTIN, TX
List of some festivals played in the past
Tabriyski Game Fest NMR Squeezebox Mania Kerrville Folk Festival The Festival International de Louisiane Calgary Folk Music Festival Eeyore's Birthday Party Edmonton Folk Music Fest Art Outside West LA Music Jasper Heritage Folk Festival SEG International Exposition UTOPiAfest Steampunk festival Plano Steinfest Prostocvashino 7 Oktoberfest Taylor TX Oktoberfest - Fredericksburg Round Top Music Festival Volksfest