Darius Rucker, best known for his time as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, performed at Wolf Trap on Saturday night and sang songs from both his successful solo country career and his rock past.
The show was especially memorable for some local hockey fans in attendance because the concert featured a salute to Alex Ovechkin — though you had to look closely to find it.
The guitarist in Rucker’s band was wearing a We’re Not Going To Be Suck This Year shirt – the mantra behind Ovechkin’s first championship in 2018.
Several readers sent us photos during the show, lighting up our mentions during what’s usually a very slow Labor Day weekend.
— Lady Shannon of Ashburn, VA (@LadyShannonOfVA) September 5, 2021
— Danielle Dumas (@DDumas6870) September 5, 2021
— David Schwab (@david_schwab) September 5, 2021
— Caroline Brandt (@caroline__cb) September 5, 2021
So who is this mystery man playing dobro?
The musician is Alexander “Sasha” Ostrovsky and he was originally born in — wait for it — Obninsk, Russia. In fact, Ostrovsky and his band, Bering Strait, are the first non-classical artists from Russia to ever get nominated for a Grammy (Best Country Instrumental Performance, 2003) per Ostrovsky’s website bio.
After their initial success, the band relocated to Nashville, TN, where a networking Ostrovsky became involved with multiple side projects both in the studio and on the road. In 2006, Bering Strait disbanded and Ostrovsky, who had been playing slide instruments such as dobro, steel guitar, and lap steel since the age of 13, started working with artists like Keith Urban, Pat Green, Sugarland, James Otto, and Lady Antebellum. Currently, Ostrovsky is touring with Darius Rucker which he has done for several years.
But I still had so many questions. Was Ostrovsky a Capitals fan? Does he like hockey? So I reached out to the band to see if I could get the story behind the shirt. Ostrovsky actually replied!
“To be honest, I didn’t know much about it when I purchased it,” Ostrovsky said. “I was browsing social media late at night after a show. I knew it was hockey-related and it sounded like something a Russian with a ‘not so perfect’ knowledge of English would say. It made me laugh so hard I had to get it. I’m Russian, I love hockey, and after the year we’ve had (2020), I thought it would make perfect sense for me to wear.”
Ostrovsky then asked me for forgiveness.
“I’m a die-hard Preds fan and really enjoyed their solid win over Caps at Bridgestone arena right before COVID,” he said laughing. “At the same time, I’m a huge fan of Ovi and the Caps. I really like watching the Russian trio at work. They are definitely my number two team and unless they’re playing against the Preds.”
— Sasha Ostrovsky (@SOdobro) May 11, 2018
After we talked about the Filip Forsberg trade, Ostrovsky said it was only recently that he learned that the quote on the shirt was Ovechkin’s and said defiantly during training camp when reporters questioned if the Capitals’ championship window was closed. “We’re not going to be suck this year,” Ovechkin replied. Nine months later, Ovechkin had the last laugh, ending Washington’s championship parade with the quote.
“Last week somebody from the DC area pointed out the meaning of your shirt and then it made even more sense,” Ostrovsky said. “So I had to wear it at the Wolf Trap!”
The show for Ostrovsky was especially memorable because it marked two very successful decades in the United States for the musician.
Per his Instagram:
Some memories today…20 years ago I played my first big show in America here @wolf_trap with my band Bering Strait, opening for Trisha Yearwood. The biggest show of my life back then. Even ended up in the documentary they made about us… 20 years later- still going at it 😎 Making new fantastic memories tonight… This place rocks
As we ended our conversation, Ostrovsky reiterated, “I love the shirt,” and told me to reach out if I was ever down in Nashville again. The Caps play the Predators in Tennessee on Saturday, April 2.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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