Calgary International Blues Festival (2010)
Guitar player, singer and songwriter Arsen Shomakhov was born in 1969 in Nalchik, in Russia’s North Caucasus. An old family piano had been the first Arsen's musical instrument. Later he discovered his passion for the guitar and began his self-education listening to the recordings of jazz and blues greats.
In 1987 Arsen set up the band "Ragtime" (a literary allusion to E.L. Doctorow's novel). The Moscow-based Russian Blues Community took notice of Arsen and made all possible to provide him opportunities for wider exposure. He released two albums in Russia – Heavy Steppin’ (2002) and Troublemaker (2003) and soon found himself in the limelight of public attention with the help from the radio program "All that blues" and the national TV channel "Culture".
The paradoxical break-through of a gifted guitar slinger from a distant national periphery was exemplified by an American researcher Michael Urban in his book "Russia Gets The Blues" published in the U.S. in 2004. In November, 2004 Arsen met Joe Morabia, the president of American label Blues Leaf records, who came to Moscow to negotiate a possibility to release Arsen’s music on the label. Label’s recording artists’ roaster includes Janiva Magness, 2006 Blues Music Awards winner, Paul Oscher, Steve Guyger and others. As a result of Joe Morabia’s visit to Russia, the album called "Dangerous" came out in the U.S. on February 14, 2006. In February, 2005 Russian Blues Community delegated Arsen Shomakhov to the 21st International Blues Contest held in Memphis, Tennessee.
He successfully participated in Odessa Jazz Carnival (2004, Ukraine), Dark Season Blues Festival (2005, Norway) along with R. Holmstrom and M. Kashmar, for whom he also opened during their consecutive Russian tour in November, 2005. Arsen is always welcome at major Russian blues festivals, his songs are included in the airplay lists of numerous blues radio and internet stations all over the world. In Australia Arsen Shomakhov's "Troublemaker" (2003) hit the blues radio charts for several months, that helped expand his connections and led to cooperation with a popular Australia-based blues-rock guitarist Wolf Mail. In October, 2006, Arsen and Wolf Mail band successfully toured France and Russia. In October 2007, after taking part in the competition at the 22nd Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival, Arsen Shomakhov has been announced the winner in the "Emerging Artists" program. Arsen was assured a slot on the main stage for the 2008 Festival.
Currently Arsen is residing in British Columbia, Canada. His new album "On the Move", recorded with the best blues musicians of the Western Canada, is due to be released on the Blues Leaf Records this July.