Cousin Steve just put this video up on Facebook. For now just wanting to save it.
later - Now that I've watched this and some other of his videos, here are a few comments:
* Back in the 60's there was a vogue for flamenco guitar and I saw Carlos Montoya perform. This player reminded me of that because of the improvisatory nature of his playing, the incessant rhythm being the framework, and that trick of playing with only the fretting fingers.
* Never realized the balalaika had only three strings. This player is amazing, but having just the three strings facilitates his fluency. Chording is very easy and the length of the strums is very short.
* I can't help wondering if he's not some sort of savant. Would love to see a bit of video of him not playing.
* The facial mugging and playing to the audience puts me in mind of a court jester, and some of the melancholy between the fast bits makes me think of bits of Stravinky's Petrushka.
* I don't think I've ever seen a better blend of physical and musical gesture, each informing the other. With the miming he's setting the instrument up as his voice and that really adds to the performance. Hearing this without seeing it wouldn't have the same impact.
* He's creating a spell, especially with those rhythms, that he enters into and is there for the audience to join in as well. There are shots of a couple of men with their eyes closed, fully engaged in the music. They are sharing in the "flow" of the music making.
* I titled this post "feel good music" because that's really the main take away. I felt mentally fresher and my mood was lifted by listening to it.