In 1986, «Kukuruza» began performing concerts on a professional level. At first, the Tatarstan Regional Philharmonic officially employed the band. The famous theater producer Michael Husid and his friend, composer Grigoriy Auerbah, founded a new theater – “A Man. A Subject. A Doll.” It was located in the town Brezhnev (later renamed Naberezhniye Chelni.) The staff of the theater consisted of «Kukuruza» and several actors. Around the same time, the band recorded their first solo LP, “Fokusnik” (“The Magician”) in Moscow .
Earlier, «Kukuruza» had already recorded songs for the LP “Let’s Sing in English” and music for the radio version of the novel “The Rider without a Head.” Unfortunately, the theater closed before the first performance was held. For a while, «Kukuruza» had a second lead vocal, Tatiana Segal’, and an artistic director, Grigoriy Auerbach, who was a member of the Union of Composers of the USSR .
In 1987, «Kukuruza» was employed by the Moscow Regional Philharmonic. Tatiana Segal’ left the band and then the country. A bit later, Rostislav Prisekin changed the way «Kukuruza» did business.
In 1988, “Roskontsert”, the main concert organization in Russia , employed «Kukuruza». After a long search for a guitar player, «Kukuruza» found Michael Venikov, who remained in the band for 13 years. (George Krivorog replaced Michael when he served in the military for a short period.) “The Showman” Alexander Kazankov also joined the band. “With no chains and no locks sings and dances Kazankov!” Around this time, «Kukuruza» began to tour very frequently.
They held both large festivals and small concerts all over – from Archangelsk in the north to Tashkent in the south, from Byelorussia in the west to the Far East, as well as the Volga region, Caucasus , towns in the Urals and Siberia , and also along BAM (the Tran Siberian railway). The group’s creativity and professionalism developed greatly during this time. Alexander Pomozov, a doctor and excellent banjo player (“Sel’skiy Chas,” Riga ), also enjoyed a one-year stint with «Kukuruza» on his way from Latvia to Germany .
1989 was a year full of success and changes. First of all, «Kukuruza» went on their first tour abroad. After harsh reviews, thorough examinations, meetings, and discussions, «Kukuruza» was permitted to participate in the festival “Golden Orpheus -89” in Bulgaria . After getting married, Larisa Nuzhdova (now Grigorieva) left «Kukuruza» and formed her own group, “The Red Grass.” Rostislav Prisekin and Dmitriy Vakhrameev played guitar and banjo in her group.
«Kukuruza» held tryouts for the position of lead singer. More than 20 potentials tried out. Irina Surina, a graduate of the Third Moscow Regional Musical College , unanimously won the competition. Her clear and bright voice became a symbol of «Kukuruza» for the next decade.
«Kukuruza» also decided to finally add drums into their music. Up until that point, the band had only used acoustic instruments. Sergey Chernyshev became their first drummer. He was replaced in 1990 by Anatoly Belchikov from the band “Shanhay.”
«Kukuruza» was one of the last bands that toured in the Central Soviet Army Group in Czechoslovakia .
With the start of economic changes in Russia , «Kukuruza» left Roskontsert, searching for their own niche. The band continued to rehearse in the Hotel “Molodyozhnaya.” During that time, «Kukuruza» met Dan Lindner, the leader of the group “Banjo Dan and Midnight Plowboys.”
Lindner had been in Moscow performing several concerts, and he decided to arrange a tour for «Kukuruza» in the United States after joining the group in a jam session.
By the beginning of the 1990s, «Kukuruza» had created a unique musical style that had no match in Russia . In addition to the original bluegrass and country music, the group began to include Russian folk songs in its repertoire. «Kukuruza» became a regular guest at music festivals: “Farmer” in Moscow , “Country Picnic” in Poland , “Harku-Jarv å ” and “Rock Summer” in Estonia , “Visagino Country” in Lithuania , and many others.