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Charlie Brechtal Blues Band at Russian Rally

The Master of Biker Blues Tests the Waters of the Golden Rings

By Bandit with photos by Charlie Brechtal and Total Flame

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When it comes to human energy, Charlie Brechtal is the atom bomb of beings. His two-wheeled spirit is unmatched, and his passion is constantly released through his music, which is tantamount to motorcycle blues. Here’s what Bill Hayes says about Charlie’s tunes: "There is a history, a legacy and a brotherhood that comprise the soul of the American biker. Those are also the elements that separate the music of The Charlie Brechtel Band from any other musician or band, who aims their talents at the motorcycling community."

Charlie’s constantly on the road, and the Charlie Brechtal Band will be available to blue your pipes at the Corbin Rider Appreciation Day, Cannonball Run II, and Buffalo Chip for Sturgis. You name it; he’ll be there. There’s the back story, now hear this:

Last year while practicing on the edge of the sun-soaked stage at the Chip and tuning his instruments, Charlie was interrupted by a couple of cigar smoking foreigners in a golf cart.

“Can we film you, please?” one of them asked, jumping from his cart with a massive video camera slung over his drooping, sweat-soaked shoulder.

Charlie was alone on the stage in the blistering sun, but he never says no to a brother with a camera, and struck up the 5-Ball blues. Before he completed his second tune, the two Russian brothers attempted to convince Charlie to pack his shit and fly to their Moscow- based motorcycle rally, Total Flame Motorcycle Festival. Here’s where the plot thickens into warm 60-weight oil consistency.

The golf cart pilots, Vladimir Roschin and Maksim Privezentsev, are the Russian owners of Total Flame Cigars. Even their cigars are named after motorcycles: Churchill Custom, Super Robusto Bobber, and Torpedo Old School, to name a few. When Castro took over Cuba, he muscled all the Cuban cigar names away from the families, while the family members escaped to Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. The Russian team spent years hunting down the righteous families and helped them redevelop their legendary cigars.

While attempting to convince Charlie to share his steel guitar twang and his band, and peel to the home of the cold war and rock the Russian motorcycle world with his tunes, they explained the drastic shift from communist Russia to today’s more democratic, western regime. “It was as if the rest of the world was a candy store with large thick picture windows, and we were outside” Vladimir said. “We could see in, but we couldn’t get there. Then suddenly the doors were opened. The people of Russia are still adjusting.”


Vladimir, which translates to owner of the world, and Maksim Privezentsev, combined their hobbies into what they describe as “harmonious unity,” when they kicked off the first biker’s cigar brand and the Total Flame music festival and motorcycle rally.

Check this YouTube video. Unless you can speak Russian, you won’t understand a word, but fuck it. It’s entertaining and visually inspiring.

Charlie knows the handshake and the eye-to-eye sincerity of a solid brother. He signed on for the trip of a lifetime to Russia to test his music talents against the greatest blues aficionados in the former USSR. He was in for a treat, an awakening, a cultural seminar, and a blues tour.

The jet, packed with Charlie’s crew and band equipment, dropped out of the sky, in weather reminiscent of Sturgis in August. Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated northeast of Moscow, 26 km from the city of Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. With a population around 12,000, the history of the town dates back to at least the 1024. It is called Sursdalar or Sudrdala (the southern valley) in the Norse Sagas - which probably also is the origin of the town's name. For centuries it functioned as the capital of several Russian principalities. It forms part of the Golden Ring. It was granted city status in 1777. There are three Golden Rings surrounding areas around Moscow.

These ancient towns, which also played a significant role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church, preserve the memory of the most important and significant events in Russian history. The towns have been called "open air museums" and feature unique monuments of Russian architecture of the 12th–18th centuries, including kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. These towns are among the most picturesque in Russia and prominently feature Russia's famous onion domes.*

Charlie and his crew rocked Russia from June 27th – July 10th, 2012. Performances were scheduled in Moscow at the Total Flame Festival as well as numerous other local venues.

“This is the only motorcycle rally in Russia,” Charlie said. “Next year, they want more USA stuff, and I’m playing again.” Over 4000 riders attended the Total Flame Rally.

“The American biker vibe that Charlie brought to Moscow was overwhelming for many of the locals who never experienced a real American motorcycle legend,” said Kristopher Winkler of UNiQ Cycle Sounds. “His music rocked the Russian biker community and left them begging for more!”

Charlie, and long time friend and road manager, Dennis Sanfilippo
Charlie, and long time friend and road manager, Dennis Sanfilippo

The Total Flame Festival in Moscow was the brainchild of Vladimir of Total Flame Cigars. It brought out thousands of Russian bikers who were more than ready to rock! His design included helping promote motorcycle awareness and disproving stereotypes between Americans and Russians, as well as bikers worldwide. In fact, Premier Putin rides a motorcycle, and much of Russia is run by the mob and bikers. The festival offered music, vendors, food, beautiful Russian women, tasty cigars, motorcycle clubs, and of course, a rockin’ good time!

“Charlie doesn’t just play rockin’ blues, the perfect soundtrack to the biker way of life,” said Kristopher. “He takes his listeners into a world that began in America’s post-WWII years, screamed through the ‘50s and ‘60s and has evolved into one of the most powerful and envied sub-cultures that this country has ever produced.”

Charlie ain’t no slouch, that’s for sure. He interned with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Deacon Jones, Gregg Allman, B.B. King, Dr. John, Buddy Miles, Aaron Neville, Freddy Fender, and Steppenwolf. Although the Russian folks couldn’t understand Charlie’s American lingo, the sounds and his energy captivated them, so much so that they requested a visit extension. Charlie’s band returned to the states, but Charlie began a roving blues tour around the Moscow region.

Check out this Russian custom shop interview:

He played with Russian bands. “I smoked those guys,” Charlie said. “I was like Jimmy Hendrix when he went to England.” He hung out with Russian celebs and played for royalty. “They wanted to know if I knew Charlie Sheen.” He toured underground bike shops.

They harped about our Biker Blues legend staying on, but he had a pre-ordained gig lined up at the Buffalo Chip for the Sturgis rally, and the Code of the West calls for Charlie and his band to always play in the Badlands, where his soulful biker batteries are charged for another year. Then he’ll return to the city of rings, Moscow, in September.



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