In Moscow I got to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a really long time, and one of those was guitarist Pavel Batalin – Pasha, if you’re up on your Russian nicknames. I lived in Russia from 1993-1995 (I had a degree in Russian lit. and I had spent a year studying in Russia. After a year in Spain I wanted to just get a job and see what that was like, and Russia was the Wild West back then and I spoke the language, so why not?), and I hadn’t been back to Russia since then, though I had seen Pasha in Spain maybe eight or nine years ago.

When I lived in Moscow I found Pasha and his singer/dancer Valentina performing at a tablao in Moscow (ok, it was a Spanish restaurant, but even that surprised me at the time), and we quickly became friends. Pasha was essentially playing solo pieces back then with Valentina singing and dancing, and I sort of taught them how flamenco works outside of a solo guitar context. They in turn took care of me. These were crazy times to be in Russia – the mafias ran everything while the country tried to navigate a seemingly impossible transition from communism to whatever came next, not to mention an uprising that saw tanks in the street (anyone remember Yeltsin’s on-top-of-the-tank moment?). I had other friends, but we were all in our early 20’s and Pasha and Valentina felt like my ‘grown-up’ friends, plus they were the only ones who understood my flamenco obsession.

Anyway, In Moscow Pasha’s pretty much the man when it comes to flamenco. Here he is in our hotel room in Moscow playing his guitar that was made by Timophey Tkach in 2006. This is the guitar that reminded David Collett of a Conde and made David want to see more of Tkach’s work. Sorry about the audio – it’s just from the Flip camera which is all we had.

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