"Life connected me with a lot of world-known legends," Gene explained. He's played with musicians like the New Orleans singer Jesse Thomas, the Louis Armstrong Band, Joe Satriani on the Mick Jagger solo project and Kenny D., the bass guitar player for Janet Jackson. He continued, saying, "The challenge was that I was an alien. I was an alien in this country." Being able to gain entry into these creative circles and take his music to the next level, to be worthy of playing next to world legends, was something he had never faced before. "Now I'm there," he said confidently. "People take me as an American songwriter, and not just an American songwriter, but someone who has a name and reputation."
In January 2014, the Ripple Road Band’s song “What is Wrong Girl” made it to #1 to the Beat 100’s World Music Charts. The Beat 100 praised Gene and the band for their blending of genres like rock, blues, and the Caribbean, reporting “it’s hard not to be sucked in by the pure simplicity of their music.”
For the future of his music, Gene is always searching for new opportunities and experiences. "I am trying to get wider and broader," he explained. "Trying to write new music, working with different singers." He is always balancing different projects, whether it's writing music for a theater spectacular, playing with Charm and fiction, or touring overseas with his musician friends. Being open to all the paths in life was how he found the Multicultural Arts Exchange (MAE). His ex-manager happened to introduce him to Vladimir Atamaneko, MAE's Artistic Director and Sound Guru. The two quickly became friends and Vlad introduced Gene to Mikhail Zorich, Project Director of MAE. The three have worked on several projects together over the years.
Recently, Gene is working with fellow MAE performer, the famous Ukrainian opera and pop singer Lena Shtefan, or as she is known on stage, Lenna. While in the initial stages of collaboration, together they are creating a program of jazz and blues songs. "She's trained in opera, but inside her, she has the passion, the energy to sing the blues," he commented. "We're just starting, and I don't want to make predictions, but I believe something is going to happen because she is a great singer."
No matter what happens or where the music takes him next, the name Gene Big G will continue to appear at concerts, in part to Fred Thomas, a bass player for James Brown.
"Hey, your name is Gene," Fred said to him. Gene and Fred had grown close after playing together for several years. They still make sure to talk and catch up after they stopped playing together. "You're tall, you're big, you play the guitar, you play the Gibson," Fred continued. "Guitar G, Gene G—G, G, G. Let me call you Gene Big G." Since then, audiences across the world have known Gene Bulaev and will continue to know him as Gene Big G.