”Gregory Boyd is an amazing musician. His music is fresh, he is a great singer and a next-level steelpan artist. And he brings the Funk!!! Big Time!!” Ida Nielsen -Bassist-
A COLD WAR DREAM – By Gregory Boyd
When I was 10 years old, I lived in the Midwest of the United States in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At this time in my life, I dreamed of traveling far from where I lived. The idea of ever “seeing the world” in any great way was as far off as the world itself and the idea of being an exchange student in some faraway place in Europe sounded so exotic and big but I knew was out of reach for two barely working-class parents in the Midwest of the USA in the late 1970s. To me seeing the world was perhaps an occasional family outing in the mountains of Colorado which was simply my life at that time. I was a budding musician and I would listen to the radio religiously and imagine myself performing some cool show somewhere with some brilliant musicians on some cool stage somewhere in a town like maybe at the park downtown or at the mall. But In my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted something bigger than that. I wanted something, somewhere far away from Colorado far away from what I knew, and far away from what I could imagine. I would watch Television as was the usual activity amongst most of us at the time. It bored me and made me long to travel even more. TV was the way out, it was the way to travel to see and feel myself in some other place. The idea of being immersed in a new culture had not really been introduced to me due to my young and limited experience and the fact that I really had not been exposed to international culture in any great way for the exception of James Bond films and a few rare movies that talked about traveling overseas or the occasional Jacque Coustou oceanic films and the like. I somehow felt like this travel life was me. I felt like this life of travel was the world that I belonged in. I was the guy in the cool car, I was the guy with the Passport and the Martini all of it made sense to me. The power of imagination would take over and there I was a guy in an airport with a passport and nice clothes looking relaxed, confident, and ready for adventure. Having a Passport was a very special thing at that time. Just the word “Passport” conjured up images that you were going somewhere cool, exotic complete with well-dressed people speaking clearly and running to the beach or sitting in an airport lounge. It was much cooler than a Grey Hound bus ticket or the occasional Amtrak train which is what most of us could relate to. You have to understand this was a time of the big airlines, first-class, “fly me”, Mastercharge, etc, very 70’s and very much desired. One must understand living in the Midwest at that time and in that kind of working-class situation many people just could not dream of traveling that far outside of where one lived. To us, Disneyland was the much-desired family mecca vacation and if one’s family could afford to do this it meant they saved and saved and created this opportunity. Many of those families and kids were not in our circles of friends. I dreamed of going to Disneyland almost as much as I dreamed of going to go to college. It was that place where all one’s dreams came true complete with Space Mountain, Monorail Trains and Holograms, Wow, and to go to Disney World you had to be the luckiest kid ever almost akin to royalty and to basically quote a film “forget about it” cause we just were not going to go there! One day in a fit of searching to define what my world could be, I decided to go to the Library a place that I escaped to as a young person. To me, a library held all of the things I valued the most knowledge, promise, and people who enjoyed giving and presenting that knowledge to others. I went to the Pikes Peak Public library in Colorado Springs and immediately went to the periodical section and grabbed a copy of National Geographic. I opened to the center of the magazine to find a map of the then Soviet Union. One has to understand at that time in the 1970’s the US and USSR as it of course was known at that time were in deep conflict we had SALT or Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and SALT 2, There was Reagan and Boris Jeltzen, Krushjev there was the earlier Cuban Missile Crisis, there was The Afghan War and a constant barrage of information as to how the Russians would attack us if given a chance. Of course, being a child at that time of Midwest America we were conditioned to believe these ideas without reservation and so for a time I did. But not completely for in my young mind I simply could get around the idea of disliking someone or even hating or avoiding them if I had not met them. So all these things I saw on television, the fear, the indoctrination that was being fed to me was not sticking. I immediately took this map from the book, took it home, and plastered it on my wall, and when I opened up and started to read it my world opened up. I looked at every town and as many villages as I could. I imagined what it would be like to travel and visit this strange land of people. These people whom I am supposed to hate so much. The town names were all strange to me but I thought it didn’t sound any more strange than “Truth or Consequences New Mexico” or “Wagon Mound, Colorado” some of the places I had visited on those short family trips as a child. The places and towns in Russia places sounded strange but familiar in some visceral way maybe because I just wanted them to be familiar or maybe I just needed to create my own sense of familiarity of where I could see myself at some possible future point. I closed my eyes and pointed to the map and it hit Moscow and like some kind of lightning bolt or crazy wave of influence or divine inspiration that I had real control over, I vowed I was going to visit Moscow one day. To add sauce to the meal I even told myself I was going play music there. Even as a Military serviceman I thought to myself I would not go to Russia and I kept a kind of prejudice in my head concerning Russia the same deeply inserted ideas that were created as a child came to the fore in a big way during that time. I still simply refused to believe that somehow these people whom I did not know hated me in some way. I simply refused this thought and I was not about to fall victim to that mentality. It was not easy. As I entered professional music life I noticed more life around me I started to notice how people, in general, were portrayed. Germans were ruthless, African Americans were unintelligent, Asians were a nuisance and Russians criminals. Somehow there was a larger brand of mental slavery at work in the world that thrived and fed on stereotypes and I avoided it at all costs. On a recent performance tour to Ukraine, I was met by several brilliant musicians who became friends one of them named Alexey and I were having a few beers and talking after a jam session and he asked me point blank “why is it in American films the Russian portrayed as the bad guy?” I started to laugh but I realized he was not laughing. This was a very serious thing for him as he adored American films as does much of the world and he had a very hard time with the fact that these films he adored so much treated him as though somehow he was the cause of everything bad in the world. I thought for a moment and answered back “probably the same reason why black people were portrayed as maids, butlers, pimps, and hustlers”. This is stereotyping at work and indeed takes on a mind and life of its own. As I stated before I simply was not having any. I got a call about 2 years ago from a bass player named Ark Ovrutski who lived in the US and is from Russia and after seeing a few shows of mine in Ukraine asked if I was interested in performing a few shows in Russia. I agreed and after some 30 years of my making this promise to myself, off I went into Russia where I have been touring rather consistently for the past 3 years.