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Hot ticket: Go West, young singers

Published March 18, 2004

You don't find many cowboys in Russia, but don't mistake Bering Strait for a novelty act. Though all its players are in their 20s and they were taught by a bluegrass-loving Russki, Bering Strait plays with the heart and soul of old-time C&W musicians. Enough so, the boys - and lead singer Natasha Borzilova - attracted the ears of a Nashville record exec, who flew the band to Music City and inked a deal.

Once that happened, the band's sound got a bit more "pop." Bering Strait found itself getting more attention, opening for the likes of Trisha Yearwood. Borzilova cut her lovely long locks into a punkier buzz 'do.

Now how does a chick from Russia sing country tunes? Don't ask me, but Borzilova has a lovely voice and is able to not only downplay her Russian accent but find a soft, twangy Southern lilt.

Except on tunes such as Porushka-Paranya, which she sings in her native tongue.

Bering Strait performs with Screaming Orphans. 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. $25.50. (813) 229-7827.

Traveling the heart's many routes

With a voice to woo women's hearts and life experiences as his muse, singer/songwriter/pianist/guitarist Gavin Degraw has what it takes to send his fans on an emotional roller coaster ride.

As a teen, the New York-state native dabbled in the music of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. After studying briefly at Ithaca College and Berklee School of Music, Degraw moved back to his stomping grounds and was discovered during an open-mike night at the former Wilson's bar and restaurant in New York.

Chariot, 27-year-old Degraw's debut album, is a peek into his world of youthful spunk and love-inspired music. With the help of his bluesy piano inflections and soulful guitar strummings, spontaneous rock meets heartfelt soul.

On the bill with Degraw are singer/songwriters Matt Nathanson and Michael Tolcher.

Degraw performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at Twilight, 1507 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, call (813) 247-4225.

- JONATHAN MILTON, Times staff writer

[Last modified March 17, 2004, 13:41:11]

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