Sunday, February 27, 2011

We've got the blues

We know of one jazz club in Minsk, and when we visited one time last year we were so disappointed we resolved never to go back. The proprietor told us the next day that there isn’t really jazz in Minsk and that what we got was typical. At least she was honest.

Blues, on the other hand, is another matter. We’ve heard plenty of good blues here, and there’s an obvious market for it with several blues festivals every year. So when the jazz club sent Alla an e-mail about their blues festival, we decided to give it a go.

The organizers assembled an ambitious evening, from 7 p.m. until Midnight. We didn’t expect to last all five hours, and we did go home before the end. The first three acts were garage bands, and we talked about going home at the break after these bands finished. But it seemed too early to give up, so we hung on to see what came next. We did get better musicians, but the soloist was so drunk that we felt pained watching her. We asked for our check, as did about 80% of the audience.

So there we all sat, no drinks on our tables, wallets in our pockets, when out came a group of musicians who actually knew what they were doing. They encouraged us to stand up and dance, which at least I did. There were a couple of people standing to dance elsewhere along the walls, but generally people “danced” in their seats. At least they didn’t go home. Finally, we enjoyed the music fully and unreservedly.

As I looked around the room, I noticed a strong difference between the audience here and the audience I’d expect for a similar show in a well-appointed jazz club around Boston. Most of the audience appeared to be around the ages of our kids. In Boston, most of the audience would have been closer to our age. I have no idea why this should be, but I like it. Blues music clearly holds a future in Belarus.

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