Who We Are

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche

/ 01

Nick Binkley

Folk-Rock Singer-Songwriter aka “Pin Stripe Brain”

Nick Binkley, www.nickbinkleymusic.com is a singer-songwriter in the Americana tradition, and film producer. His song, “Novi Mir” (Russian for New “World” or New “Peace”) and film “Free To Rock” are emblematic of a life that has spanned the worlds of music, finance, and international affairs.   Nick, who is trained on classical guitar, but whose primary musical influences are Country and Folk, spent years honing his craft as a songwriter.  He attended the Guitar Study Center, managed by Eddie Simon, Paul Simon’s brother, and produced demos of his original music with Barry Kornfeld (guitarist on “Sounds of Silence”). In addition to paying his bills, Nick’s years at his day job informed his first album, “Pin Stripe Brain,” by commingling the influences of his SoCal youth with the steel and glass world of high finance.

His most memorable live performances include playing the Papagayo Club in St Tropez, the Palomino Club in LA, the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, and the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, the latter with Vyacheslav Malezhik for Russian national TV.  His life long musical collaborators, Valery Saifudinov, Mark Hart, and Steve Dudas, write, produce and record with Nick. His fourth and latest album, “Stardust Angels Ghosts” was written and recorded during the Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests.  

Follow Nick Binkley @pintstripebrain on Instagram

Nick Binkley Live at the Belly up

“Brown Eyed Angel”

“True Love”

“Rosalee”

/ 02

Valery Saifudinov

Rock Singer-Songwriter aka ‘Father of Soviet Rock and Roll’

Valery Saifudinov, dubbed the ‘Father of Soviet Rock and Roll’ by Russian rock journalist, Artemy Troitsky, in his defining book, “Back in the USSR – True Story of Rock in Russia,” is a rock musician and writes and sings American rock and roll.  He was born in Riga, Latvia, a Republic of the former Soviet Union.  As a young boy he was fascinated with American rock music.  However, rock music was prohibited by the Soviet Ministry of Culture and severely restricted. Electric guitars and amps were forbidden.  Soviet youth were not allowed to buy or sell American records or play the music.  Valery, rebel that he was, formed a rock band at age 14.  He played and sang American songs in English that challenged local Cultural authority in Riga.  He built the first electric guitar from a Fender Guitar factory manual given to him by a Swedish sailor docked in the port of Riga.

The documentary, Free To Rock, is based on Valery’s experience. Eventually, he was able to leave the Soviet Union and secure political asylum in the US. He formed the first Russian rock band in the US playing rock and roll covers and performing at major venues including Winterland Ballroom, Oakland Coliseum, the Troubadour, and opened for The Band at the Santa Cruz Civic Center.  He also appeared on TV’s Midnight Special. After his band dissolved, he moved to San Diego and set up a recording studio, Flight 19.  One of his first clients was a young Eddie Vedder and his band, Bad Radio.  Soon, Valery was making his own rock music, producing and engineering his solo records, “At The Gaslamp” and “Go Go Boom Boom.”  Valery is a multi-instrumentalist, playing drums, bass, electric and acoustic guitars. He says he only wants two words on his tombstone:  “More groove!”.

See his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame interview

Follow Valery Saifudinov @valeryflight on Instagram

/ 03

Mark Hart

Alt-Pop Singer-Songwriter and Keyboard Player

Mark Hart www.markhartmusic.com is a gifted American musician and compelling songwriter best know for being a member of both Supertramp (lead vocals on “Free As A Bird” album) and Crowded House (a full member on “Together Alone” album). As well as being a group member, touring, and session musician for Ringo Starr, Mark has composed film scores and is a record producer. He grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas and learned to play piano and guitar as a boy. He studied classical music in college and worked as a full-time session musician with various artists.

He formed Combination in 1984 and their first album was released on Warner Bros. Records, produced by Ted Templeman. Other members of the band included Steve Dudas who was to become a life long musical collaborator with Mark, forming a songwriting duo composing music for TV and Film. Mark’s two solo albums, “Nada Sonata” and “The Backroom” showcase his musicianship and alternative-pop arrangements. Mark is a multi-instrumentalist and plays keyboards, guitars, lap steel, and bass.

Mark Hart Singing Supertramp – Mandoki Soulmates

Follow Mark Hart @markhartmusic on Instagram

/ 04

Free to Rock

“Soft Power” and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Free To Rock www.freetorockmovie.com is the story of how the soft power of American and Western pop culture contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The original story is by Valery Saifudinov, Nick Binkley and Doug Yeager. The film is directed by Jim Brown, four time Emmy Award winning music documentary filmmaker. Executive directors and co-producers include Nick Binkley, Stas Namin, Doug Yeager, John Beug and Bill Ivey. It was 12 years in the making and premiered at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. It has appeared on American Public Television and has been licensed for broadcast across the world with the US State Department separately licensing and distributing the film throughout Europe, the Baltics, and Eastern Europe.

The film features interviews with Billy Joel and John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Mike Love (Beach Boys), Elton John, Valery Saifudinov, former Soviet rocker and now artist on PSB Records, and Stas Namin, the founder of the iconic soviet era underground band, The Flowers. Stas organized the Moscow Peace Festival in 1989 and coordinated the screening of the film at the Moscow International Film Festival in 2017. The film includes performances by Bruce Springsteen in East Berlin, and Roger Waters and Cyndi Lauper at the Wall Concert attended by 350,000 Berliners at the Brandenburrg Gate in 1990. Also interviewed are former President Jimmy Carter, the “First American Rock and Roll President,” and former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. The film was financed by PSB Records, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The film’s 501(c)3 partner is the Grammy Museum and Foundation. ( © PSB Records ).

Where We’ve Been

While making a living, making a life with music

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