Skypaint, a "Pop Opera", follows one mans journey from his tranquil home in the hills, into a synthetic, virtual world of cyber-reality. The hero, Sky, feels isolated, alienated, and confused by the new ways of this modern world. When his wife, Laila, is plagued by a mysterious illness, Sky connects with a cutting edge doctor, Riley J Jones, who convinces Sky and Laila to take a bite to unite with the cyber nations hallucination and transfer their souls into his newly created digital world. It is here that they can escape the strange illness plaguing Laila and live in a self-constructed heavenly bliss. Eventually, the bond begins to loosen as one accepts and one rejects this newfound pain-free world.
Jim Sullivan from the Boston Globe calls Skypaint "terrific: immediately infectious, hard-rocking, and heartfelt. Skypaint may just be the best rock [or pop] opera by a small-scale bandthe breadth of material - sampled techno bits, helicopter-ish synth flutters a la Pink Floyd, rousing anthemic pop/rock, and country make for a powerful experience."
Written, recorded, and produced by multi-instrumentalist Russell Chudnofsky, Skypaint debuted in November of 2002 as a live pop-rock opera at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. The Pop Opera was performed with a brilliant Boston-based cast: stunning Sarah Borges as Laila, Eric Schmider of Mollycoddle as Hank, Tom Sturm as the sci-fi pimp Dr. Riley J. Jones, and Chudnofsky as Sky. Members of the Confidence Men served as the backing band. Computer animation augmented the live performance, courtesy of Lawrence Sampson and Erin Dalbec. Throughout 2003, repeated sold-out shows and thrilled audiences brought the production to several larger venues including the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA and the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA. In 2004, the cast took a break to pursue other musical endeavors.
During this hiatus, Chudnofsky participated in a writers workshop sponsored by the New Opera and Musical Theatre Initiative entitled Birth of a Musical. There he perfected his script under the direction of acclaimed playwright/director/professor Wes Savick and New York playwright and director Jeffery Sweet. Their guidance and encouragement inspired Russell to revisit the recording studio to produce an updated version of Skypaint with more structure and clarity, recording with engineer Brian Brown (Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donnelly, Natalie Merchant). A "new and improved" Skypaint was recorded and is scheduled for digital release in 2006.
As an adjunct step to his innovative vision, Chudnofsky plans to make this musical story into an animated film. With the proper mix of talent and funding, Skypaint will be brought to the next creative level - to exist as part of a great heritage of rock operas, a legacy that starts with The Whos Tommy and continues onto the present day with Hedwig and The Angry Inch and Green Days American Idiot. In addition, Chudnofsky is currently working on a sequel - Skypaint 2.0: A Dream Inside a Dream.
At age 14, Russell Chudnofsky wrote his first musical story, a rap opera entitled "Gordy" about his high school bus driver. In between stints at college he ran away to join the circus as a clown/musician/MC, riding a tricycle and playing guitar simultaneously. He soon honed his chops and joined several bands, establishing a reputation as a top-notch guitarist.
In the 90s, Chudnofsky caught the ear of Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Keidis. Keidis was so impressed with the young Chuds originality and ability that he invited him to Los Angeles to audition as lead-guitarist for the group.
These days, Chudnofsky is a first-call guitarist on the Boston music scene. His impressive resume includes musical projects with Lori McKenna (Warner Brothers), Catie Curtis (Vanguard), Amelia White (Funzalo), Jake Brennan (Yep Roc), Sarah Borges (Blue Corn), Eileen Rose (Rough Trade) and many others. He has toured extensively, sharing the stage with well-established performers such as Frank Black of the Pixies, Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band, Greg Hawkes of the Cars, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Hot Tuna, Tanya Donnelly, Chip Taylor, Ellis Paul, Kay Hanley, Laura Veirs, and many more.
In conjunction with his career as sought-after sideman, Russell also fronts the instrumental outfit Guitarzan where his notable guitar style shines through classic pop and rock covers ranging from the Beatles to Roy Orbison, and from the Cars to Ted Nugent.
Inspired by the writings of Bill Joy Does The Future Really Need Us? (Wired Magazine, April 2000) and Ray Kurzweils The Age Of Spiritual Machines, Chudnofsky started writing Skypaint in 2000.