The Unexpected Present

Starting out as introverts, both Yuri and I read voraciously and were proliferate in writing cards, responding to letters, and sending postcards to friends. We kept diaries and calendars along with writing tablets and leather-bound journals for most of our lives. Scraps of papers and postcards, small calendar books mark my events and journeys. We have letters and photos, ticket stubs. Ephemeral things. Tactile items that trigger a memory. A moment in time that makes us who we are.

Over thirty years, our lives crisscrossed from the early 1970s at Dodd’s to our connection at a 2009 Kinderhook reunion event. During the after-party, I asked him to be a guest on my podcast Film Festival reViews – we had such a great conversation that it turned into a two-parter: Yuri Turchyn Imrpovising GRUPO YURI Episode 066 and Yuri Turchyn Improv Part Deux Episode 067. Music maker and the art of conversation finally merged into a match. I adore his syntax. We have been together ever since taking the less well-traveled route, taking the opportunities that make our lives an adventure of a lifetime. These stories are one of a kind, one in a million. Here’s a bit of who we are.

Art is my background with a B.A. in studio art and graphic design, M.A. in fiber and textile design. Having worked in a Mad Men World garnering awards for print publication, radio, and television in NJ Advertising Land, I became quite good at it – worked my way from freelance gigs to full-time art director and creative director in the NY/NJ metro area. Eventually, I came to be adept at being a tech chick, a transformation from analog precision to digital professional. A forever Macophile, I adapted an integration philosophy refusing to give up my Mac in a PC work environment.

During my time living in Silver Spring, MD, I completed an M.A. in Producing for Film and Video out of American University, Washington, DC. Graduation is May 2001, looking ahead to a future in filmmaking when three months later, disastrous 9/11 happened. The whole world stopped. When the third plane crashed into the Pentagon, I volunteered with the Red Cross to organize the massive outpouring of material support coming from all around the country. It was a reaction to wanting to do something during a traumatic time. Foreshadowing?

It took a while to get into the game, as I worked in a nefarious Public Relations agency on K Street then eventually moved back to New Jersey. Connections with Fort Lee Film Commission took me to a rabbit hole that I fell into writing a feature and episodic television series about first woman film director Alice Guy Blache. This led me to find stories from other women directors in the biz that I wanted to have conversations with. The analog merged with new digital technology on New Year’s Eve 2006. As a Reel Jersey Girl, I am the founder and host of Film Festival reViews when no one knew what a podcast was.

Yuri’s entire being embodies music – mind, body, and soul. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Yuri began playing violin at age six. He continued into his high school years winning the Mercer County String Competition but turned to guitar and lyrics, a singer-songwriter. At Rutgers University, he studied International Relations and Russian Poets and was accepted into the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK.

Instead, he moved back into a Rutgers dorm and became a founding member of Kinderhook Creek (later dropping the “Creek”), playing guitar, fiddle, writing tunes, learning classical voice techniques with his vocal coach, Tom Rexdale, a prominent ragtime piano player and “Professor of Singing” out of the Julliard School, New York City. Not surprisingly, he takes a teaching approach with players, often called, “Professor.”

As a founding member of Kinderhook, arguably one of the most popular country-rock bands during the 1970s, and contributing to the early establishment of the New Jersey music scene, Yuri famously undertook Jean Luc Ponty’s New Country onto an unrivaled measure in their performance circles at the Stone Pony, Capitol Theater, Schaeffer Summer Music Festival. Subsequently, he performed original music with Bombay; traditional Irish folk tunes with Trinity II; and was a substantial contributor to the compositions of Gunther Ford in The World.

Over the next decade, Yuri turned to harmonic influences of Steely Dan, Manhattan Transfer with a progressive rock approach for his vocally infused band, Now, Voyager. Critically acclaimed CD, Currents is made up of original compositions drawing poetic inspiration from genres including classical, jazz, folk music, and World music with his instrumental quintet Grupo Yuri Jazz. Several CDs later, in March 20021, he released a collection of work, Undiscovered Country, many coming from the Permafrost Tapes rescued from Hurricane Irene flooding.

Yuri’s songs are poetic and soul-searching, full of political irony and heartfelt love stories– finding it, living it, breaking up from it. His violin solos could make angels cry. Listen for yourself

Nell came along with me on many journeys making herself an indispensable member of our entourage. Mostly teaching us the meditation of a good nap, good catnip, double harmonic purring, mouse catcher extraordinaire.