assemblies & workshops

Who is Misha Feigin ?

One of the best guitarists of Russia, singer-songwriter and storyteller Misha Feigin was born and raised in Moscow. He has toured extensively in most of the United States, Canada, and Europe. Misha left behind an established career hallmarked by four albums released on Russian “Melodia” label, appearances on popular radio and television shows, national and international tours, and publications in various magazines. The Russian independent radio station “Echo of Moscow” ended three days of emergency broadcasting after the failed coup in August 1991 with Misha’s song “Gulp of Freedom”.

In the United States, Misha has performed concerts for over 300,000 students in 47 States and produced seven albums. He was featured on the NPR (National Public Radio) program “Mountain Stage”, and shared the stage with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. Misha recently toured again in Russia. Misha examines the cultural differences among Russia, modern Germany, and the United States, including customs, schools, sports, and wildlife. The students will learn how unique and amusing American customs are, and will have fun asking questions, participating in discussions, and exploring Russian and German ways of life. Misha sings in English and Russian, and plays guitar, balalaika, piano, and harmonicas. His knowledge of English allows him to communicate with his audiences clearly and directly. Misha is an artist with Kentucky Educational Showcases, Very Special Arts (VSA Kentucky), Columbus Arts Council, and Young Audiences. Misha offers programs and workshops that can be tailored to elementary, middle, or high school audiences.

– School assembly performances (45 to 60 minutes) –

Custom-planned full-day residencies that include one performance and four “hands-on” workshops in a classroom, where Misha shares more detailed information about Russia and Germany and answers questions. The students will pick up a few Russian and German words and will be introduced to the Cyrillic alphabet. They will be able to explore some Russian and German artifacts such as money, art books, photographs, and folk-art items.

One-week or two-week residencies with multimedia creativity enhancement workshops. Misha uses games and creative exercises connecting music, creative writing, and visual arts of different styles, cultures, and eras to create stories, poems, songs and artwork. Students will experience the joy of collective musical improvisation, no matter what musical skill they have or what musical instruments they choose. Workshops are fun every minute! Programs and workshops are tailored to every particular age group: K-3, 4-6, 6-8, 9-12.

– Special programs and workshops for children with special needs. –

Study guides and curriculum connection webs are included. Curriculum areas reinforced: Art, Music, Social Studies, especially Geography and History, Language Arts, Social Skills. Fees are based on time and travel. Special discounts for block-booking.


Some scientists suggest that African “Adam and Eve”-or at least a small group of genetically similar group of hunter-gatherers -lie at the base or a manybranched human family tree? The trial of mutation coalesces in a single Y-chromosome whose owner lived between 40.000 to 140.000 years ago in Africa? Because every man on the planet now carries that mutation named M94, scientists like to call this man “Genetic Adam.” There were other human beings living at the same time. Their lineages simply did not make it to the present. — AP News

Genetic Adam (his name sounds
“Uh-Uh in local language) finds himself
illuminated watching the lightning
splitting the bulging baobab tree
in two, greedy flames
tongue the tree guts,
Uh-Uh’s neurons fire,
his brain spins – he grabs
a cindering branch
and dashes back to his cave.
“Let it be light!” Uh-Uh growls
raising his torch victoriously.

Full of awe, his tribe folk
retreated to the dark corners,
but stepping carefully over the border
marked by undulating shadows,
Eve (they called her Yoee-Yoee),
walks into the circle of light,
curiosity and desire spark in her eyes
mixing with flames’ reflections,
the wise one, Yoee-Yoee knows –
mutation A94 requires
a good fuck.

agnostic reflections

Almost two centuries ago
Duke Tolstoy had written this,
smiling cunningly in the snowy
immensity of Russia:
Spit in the eyes of these who claim
they can embrace the boundlessness.
This morning
I spit into the mirror
and try to clean
the toothpaste dripping
from the hibernating
vertical puddle of mercury,
a graveyard of many eyes –
it never reflects anything,
only steals.
I trust no Alice
wearing every face –
the wonderland
is on my side.

The master of my own illumination,
I flip the light switch off
and walk away
leaving the darkness contained
behind the closed door
in the bathroom.


Transformation as a form
of trance does not guarantee
that delirious centipede trapped
in a Franz Kafka dream
will tear through the fabric
of mute nightmares and recursive
mutations to become a little girl
in white dress lost in the cloud
of dandelions just a few steps
from the garden fence
and her mother smiling obliviously
to the blank serene sky.

Transition as a form of
transmission feeds on itself
from vibration to vibration
broadcasting every want
liberated by every heartbeat
pushing the universe to expand
a little more, so a little boy
with bruised knees will run again
towards his father turning the corner
of a country lane immersed
in the soft light of one July
evening that never ends.

the singing

when I become this rain
and these dark still trees
touching the restless air
with their swollen buds,
I will be this soft humid night,
and this golden shining lamp
by the window in a quiet room.
I will become you, and you
will be a bird, perched
on a naked tree branch,
a ruffled sparrow crazy with
spring, full of longing, delight,
and pain that will become
this song, but
who will be the singer?

this poem is the winner of Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry 2000

the dance

I’d been hearing those stories about the Krestovik gang for a while, annoying legends of the working class suburbs. If one of them asked a girl to go out and she dared to say no, she might simply disappear. The Krestoviks hang out at the major intersection, a place known as the “crest”, or the cross. That’s where their name came from: the Crossers. They always looked for someone to beat up — hippies, homosexuals, new kids on the block, Jews — whoever came by.

But I didn’t care then because I was singing with a great band, fully immersed in a rock ‘n’ roll craze of the late 60’s. We rehearsed for hours, not even drinking until we were through. We played great stuff — Led Zeppelin, Santana, Jimi Hendrix — learning songs by ear from the records we bought on the black market. They were hot commodities, 50 to 60 rubles each, one third of an average monthly salary.

Every Friday and Saturday night we played for dances in Lyubertsi cultural Center, or the Palace of Culture, and got paid monthly, 75 rubles each It was unique: playing rock ‘n’ roll openly, with no trouble, and getting paid on a regular basis.

The colossal gray Palace of Culture had tall fat columns, heavy portals with hammer-and-sickle insignia, a glamorous marble stairwell, and other attributes of a distinguished style of architecture we called “Classical Stalinism.” This marvel sheltered a 1000-seat concert hall converted into a dance floor and a plenty of rooms for activities such as sawing, music lessons, dance classes, woodworking, etc.

Lyubertsi was a gloomy, spooky-after-dark town — a series of faceless five-floor apartment buildings, narrow dirty streets, and endless clotheslines with drying sheets and underwear. Kerchiefed babushkas sat on little benches by the flats, scanning every passer-by with drilling inquisitive looks. Just walking past on my way to the Palace of Culture was a dreadful experience.

Traveling to gigs together with Stepanyan, the band’s inflammable lead guitarist and Jimi Hendrix fanatic, proved to be a wise decision. One night on the bus a pig-faced thug approached us. “Boys, give me 14 kopecks!” – a well-known prelude to extortion of more money or a serious beating up.

Both Stepanyan and I had long, black, curly hair, and wore shabby blue jeans and that infamous pensive look. My colleague was also equipped with huge beautifully curved nose. It was clear: we were two Jews on the bus, even though my friend was Armenian, and two rotten hippies as well.

As we consolidated our ranks for a showdown, the hoodlum laughed unexpectedly and pointed his fat, hairy finger right at my comrade’s pale face. “Gee! I know you! You are Stepanyan, the great guitarist! And you,” he stuck his finger now in my face, “you are the new singer in the band!”

We exhaled, relaxing. The thug kept on blowing bubbles of idiotic laughter. “It was a joke! I don’t need your 14 kopecks, boys!” His pig-face grew friendly now. The bus felt silent as Stepanyan and I looked at each other shaking our heads. Our new friend got oft on the next stop. This time rock ‘n’ roll saved us from trouble; much more often, however it was trouble.

The powerful trio I sang with — guitar, bass and drums, — was a part of the big combo with an extended brass section. Every night the full-sized band played two sets of jazz-rock instrumentals. Usually after these two sets the brass section got really exhausted from excessive drinking. It was natural, because their drink of choice was pure alcohol mixed half-and-half with tap water. They always asked us to do whatever we wanted in the third final set. That was our starring moment, because all we wanted was to rock ‘n’ roll to death!

And we did it as loud and wild as we could in front of several hundred shaking and screaming fans. Fortunately Krestovik gang didn’t mind our music, and the progressive director of the facility chose not to pay attention to the third politically incorrect rock ‘n’ roll set.

I proudly recall that I put on a strong performance during my very first late night appearance with the hand. After a friendly half-glass of vodka bon voyage from my older band colleagues, I jumped and shrieked on stage at my very best. We cranked up Led zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, and after I finished the first ‘verse I noticed the people in the room had stopped dancing and were starring at me in amazement. The next night dance attendance doubled, which was attributed –everybody agreed on that — to my triumphant debut in the third set. I also suspect my success had something to do with Led Zeppelin genius, which had never before been publicly exposed in Lyubertsi. But happiness in this life rarely last long – my quick fame was to be buried in shambles.

That night our brass section had drunk, too much even by their own inscrutable standards. During the first break, the band-leader, a trumpet player and jazz survivor of the ancient beat generation, stared at me after failing an honest attempt to get off a dusty old coach in a dressing room. His look was dull and unfocused; a half-empty glass in his hand was frozen in motion. He struggled to recover his facility of speech.

“Fuck it!” he produced at last, giving up his attempt to become vertical, and then, attacked by hiccups, “Boys, I can’t do it, hick. Go and kick their asses with your shit. Hick.” Stepanyan and I looked around. Others members of the brass section weren’t in much better shape.

We looked at each other. “Let’s improvise!” After hearing the word “improvise”, the horn player, in a last ditch effort of standing up, bellowed and handed me his glass of “half-and half”. I finished that sacrifice in one gulp.

A minute later we were on stage, and I was jumping around again, popping out my eyes, shaking my hair, and screaming with hear-rendering intensity the song destined to be my swan Song: Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

“Woman, do you need louououaaave?”

But it wasn’t a beautiful woman who received the call and jumped on stage wringing her hands and squealing in ecstasy. Oh, no! It was a well-respected 72-years old Jewish gentleman, the director of the facility. Under his leadership the Palace of Culture had earned a red banner and honorable third place in the all-Russia socialist competition for palaces of culture. Now our director was ruined and desperate because that very night the district Comsomol organization (Young Communists) had sent a special committee to evaluate how well the institution was doing on the cultural front. And there I was jumping around with my long hair and beard and shabby blue jeans –and screaming in English! ‘I was an alien element, an agent of rotten capitalism!

“Get the fuck out of here, now!” the director screamed. He pointed his finger right in my face, shaking, raging, and cursing non-stop.

I was expelled from the Palace, discharged dishonorably from the cultural frontier. The whole band, including the brass section, begged for clemency on my behalf, but the director was adamant.

“He must fuck off!” – that’s all my band-mates heard from him ever since. The man was normally very polite and restrained, but he was still screaming and cursing sporadically a few weeks after Led Zeppelin disaster.

I was banished from the rock ‘n’ roll paradise in Lyubertsi, a wretched alien in the land of victorious proletariat.

I learned more about being an alien many years later and a thousand miles away from Russia. My American “green card” red in a science-fiction fashion: “resident alien.” It’s like a snail shell — you carry your alien-ship wherever you crawl.

But 22 years ago getting on stage with my friends just one night before my expulsion from Lyubertsi Rock ‘n’ roll Paradise I wasn’t aware of this business. Two exhilarating weeks with the band passed as one day. It was Friday night, and people filled up the dance floor — a good crowd.

But after a few songs something strange started to happen: two rough looking muscular Krestoviks climbed on stage in the middle of a song. They asked the drummer to let them play his set, and he gave it up right away without a word. The bastards proceeded to screw up the song, and I was mad!

Everybody else in the band behaved as if nothing unusual was happening. The bass player moved up closer to me and said: “Stay cool and sing.” I took his advice. He was from Lyubertsi. The place had been packed with frantically dancing people, but now the dance floor became practically empty. Most of the crowd stood quietly with their backs up against the wall. Something else was happening. A dwarf by the name Kolya hobbled in the middle of the room.

The next instruction came from Stepanyan:” We have to do “Myasoedovskaya Street” now. Don’t ask!” I knew the song, a criminal underworld all-time favorite, an obligatory part of every Russian restaurant band’s repertoire.

I took a deep breath, and we started a song. In the middle of the room on the dance floor, a giant circle formed with Kolya in the center of it. Tough-looking athletic guys with low foreheads and short hair ran in a circle with their hands on each other’s shoulders. The Rites Of Power.

They ran faster and faster, a gray circle in the middle of the dance hall decorated with plaster five-pointed stars and hammer-and-sickles Kolya the dwarf swirled in the center of everything, stretching his little hands up to the sky, a triumphant and menacing King of the Dance. We kept on playing.

misha feigin

Misha Feigin was born and raised in Moscow and known as one of Russia’s premier guitarists. He released two albums on the state label Melodiya. Since moving to the U.S. in 1990, Misha has been featured on National Public Radio and BBC. He has toured throughout North America and Europe releasing twelve CDs in America and Germany, and two in Great Britain on Leo Records. Misha shared the stage/recorded with Elliot Sharp, Steve Beresford , Dave Liebman, and Eugene Chadbourne, He performed on many prestigious stages such as Moscow’s Concert Hall Russia, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and Vancouver Jazz Festival.

Misha Feigin won the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry in 2000 and was awarded the Al Smith Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction in 2002. His books include a novel Searching for Irina and a book of poetry, The Last Word in Astronomy, both by Fleur Publishing. Misha’s, collections of poetry, Abraham’s Bagel, Skippers in Training, and Cloud Letters, all by AvidReaders publishing Group. Misha’s latest book is a free style travelogue Tribal Diaries, a book of lyrical observations. Misha currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky.