Michael and Diane and Boo Go to Russia

By Paul Moffett

For Michael and Diane Kessler, getting to travel to Russia was proof of the fundamental interconnectedness of the world, of the existence of the web of life. For them, the trip happened because somebody they knew knew somebody who knew somebody in Moscow and that somebody, singer Misha Feygin, invited them to come. After that, it was only necessary to iron out the details.

Michael and Diane Kessler

Like getting money for the trip. It took awhile to cover all the "little details," but persistence paid off. Traveling as "The Working Class Heroes," the Kesslers, with bassist Clyde "Boo" Whealdon, recently spent close to a month in the Soviet Union, playing music and working on World Peace.

For Diane Kessler, the trip was simply for sharing music with the Soviet people. All three of them took the opportunity to make new friends and connections, hoping to improve the chances to visit the U.S.S.R. again.

The trio performed at five concerts, one of which was televised. They did a show at the state-owned House of Actors in Moscow, where they met a variety of Soviet performers. They also ran into Native American Robbie Romero. (Romero traveled through Louisville in the summer of '89 and performed at Uncle Pleasant's.)

They sang songs for a meditation group. When they played on the televised Farmer's Concert, they were thought to be a bluegrass group because they were from Kentucky.

"They wanted to know all about Owensboro," laughed Kessler. "I guess they know that Owensboro is where the International Bluegrass Music Association is."

Misha Feygin. Feygin will perform at the Cherokee Blues Club March 19. PHOTO BY DMITRI DAVIDOV

Other performances included two shows at the Global Forum's World Peace Conference, plus a chance to play at Dugna, the site of the Soviet Union's earliest nuclear weapons factory.

The high point of the trip was their appearance on a popular Soviet television program. Kessler noted that they received thirty-seven rubles for the television show, a large sum when compared to the average worker's monthly wage of one hundred and fifty rubles. The program, a variety show whose name the Kesslers could not recall, is a long-running program.

At the Academy of Sciences, he delivered the opening section of a talk on the work of Einstein and Buckminster Fuller. The second half of the talk was about a project called the Global Energy Network.

The Russian end of the travel plans was handled by singer/songwriter Feygin, a performer of children's music, with three albums to his credit. Feygin also acted as go-between and ombudsman for the trio, helping to arrange appearances, find lodging, get travel managed and generally do the things necessary to live for a month in a large, unfamiliar city.

Feygin arrived in New York the day of the interview and telephoned to say that he would be in Kentucky during March. A performance has been scheduled for March 19 at the Cherokee Blues Club. Information about the show can be obtained from Kessler at (502) 459-8685.