MOSCOW: Old Arbat is one of the most popular streets in Moscow, with tens of thousands - if not more - strolling down the pedestrian street on any sunny weekend. Artists and street performers bid for the crowds attention - and free change. At any time, as many as 10 musicians may be playing on this street at any one time and more than a dozen portrait drawers. Dmitry, a teenager, is among the street musicians playing occasionally on Arbat. For the past year, he has been playing with two other people - both much older - that he met on Arbat. He said the most memorable moment over that period was when well-known Russian musician NoiseMC stopped as he walked along Arbat to play music with him.
St. Petersburg: Maria, 22, was wearing a purple dress that matched her purple dreads. A hair dresser by education with excellent English, she travels from time to time to Finland and Germany to play hard core on the streets. She takes her guitar, an amplifier and about 100 euros. She uses couch surfing to stay at homes for free. If she doesn’t party much, she returns to St. Pete with 200 euros. She makes on average about 40-50 euro a day. Maria said she was leaving soon for Europe for a month to play. She contacted one of her favorite groups - Stockholm-based dEMOTIONAL - to ask if she could party with them while she is in town. Maria said her 28 year-old sister, who likes to dress in various ethnic clothing, is even more adventurous, doing extreme sports like paragliding & working as a mountain guide from time to time in South America.
St. Petersburg: Oleg was walking along Nevsky with his friends. He said he is a vocalist in a metal core band. However, the band is 'having some issues,' he said.
St. Petersburg: Andrei, 57, introduced himself as Dr. I-Bolit and said he has been playing reggae music for 35 years. He said reggae was popular in St Petes in the 1990s, but interest has fallen. Andrei said he has children and grandchildren and described himself as a 'happy grandfather.' I asked how his family reacts to his clothing. He said his children are a bit embarrassed when walking with him on the streets. People think he is their older brother and not their father. Andrei said his youngest daughter died in a car accident in the early 1990s and that really impacted him. After a depression, he channeled his emotions back into music. He dreams of visiting Jamaica and Ethiopia, saying ''Ethiopia is in my heart.'' His favorite reggae song is 'No Woman, No Cry.'
Yulia was walking along Moscow's ring road wearing a purple-colored jacket and boots and carrying a guitar. She said she is a translator of movies from English and Spanish into Russian and also teachers English at a university. Yulia said she is following in the footsteps of her mom, who also translates from English and Spanish into Russian. But Yulia also takes a bit after her father, a professional musician who plays the guitar. Yulia is bass guitarist in a group that plays 1960s British and American soul music, including Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. Yulia said she is studying Portuguese and that her dream is to translate a Brazilian TV series into Russian.
In my previous post about Lera, she said both her parents were skilled at drawing, . Akim, pictured here, takes the family artistic skills to one more generation. I saw Akim talking to friends near a music academy in the center of Moscow on a snowy afternoon, carrying an instrument on his back. He said he plays the violincello, recently finished his Russian music studies and was planning to continue his education in Germany. I asked if anyone else played music in his family. He said his parents and grandparents play the violin, among the eight professional musicians in his family. Akim grew up in Obinsk, a town outside Moscow built around the world's first nuclear power plant that is known for its top-notch physicists and engineers, not musicians.
Sasha was eating in the back of a 1950s style American diner in Moscow late one evening. He was dressed in an outfit that reminded me of old-school rappers from the 1980s, so I walked over to chat. He said he is a pop singer in the duo 'In2Nation' and had just come from the studio. Having attended a highschool focusing on stage performance & jazz, he is is now studying singing at university. He did not follow in his parents footsteps, both of whom are winter biathlonists.
This English-language student said the biggest event of the pasy year was a trip to Italy, her first visit to a foreign country. "I alsolutely loved it. People there are happy, friendly, open...not rushing around and angry at the world." She said she chose English as it's "the language of languages" and loves to sit and think long and hard how to most beautifully translate literature. When not studying, she plays experimental music with her bass guitar. The photo was taken in front of her university.
Artyom & Denis perform chillout and ambient music outside their regular jobs. Artyom said he started experimenting with music while attending a military school and played trance for a while. I asked how he got into these other music genres. "I was resting with a friend by a river early one morning outside Minsk, when we heard ambient music and it inspired us."