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Michael Urban chronicles the advent of blues music in Russia and explores the significance of the genre in the turbulent, postcommunist society. Russians, he explains, have taken a music originating in the "low" culture of the American South and transformed it into an object of "high" culture, fashioning a social identity that distinguishes blues adherents from both the discredited Soviet past and the vulgar consumerism associated with the country's Westernization While adapting the idiom to their own conditions. Russia's bliuzmeny (bluesmen) have absorbed the blues ethos encoded in the music by their American forebears, using it to invert their social world, thus deriving dignity and satisfaction from those very things that give one the blues.
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