Another Year, Another One Caucasus

After covering last year’s One Caucasus Festival for Meydan TV there was no way I was going to miss this year’s. That was just as well as there was definitely more international media interest in the event that brings Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians together in a small, somewhat isolated village located about two hours away from Tbilisi.

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Tbilisi: A Regional Hub for Alternative Music in the South Caucasus?

Having moved from the UK to Armenia in 1998 to work for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) it was only natural that I started to take an interest in an alternative music scene that, while not really existing, was emerging at the time. From 2001 onwards the situation started to change, and bands such as Gyumri’s The Bambir really grabbed my attention. By the mid-2000s other bands started to emerge and those that had been dormant during the electricity shortages of the 1990s began to re-surface.

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DiHaj in Tbilisi, A Week Later in Baku Unveils Azerbaijan’s Eurovision Entry

I won’t pretend to be a Eurovision fan as it’s really not my thing. Until I moved to the South Caucasus from the U.K. I never ever watched it and actually thought it something best avoided. True, standards in the international music competition have increased considerably since Eastern Europe and other former Soviet republics have participated, and the often acerbic commentary on on Twitter can be fun, but in the few years that really hasn’t been enough. Last year did at least interest me a little given that a band from Tbilisi, the Young Georgian Lolitaz, represented Georgia as I’ve known their lead singer, Nika Kocharov, and photographed the band since 2005. This year has also sparked my interest given that another band I’ve been photographing for a year now, Baku-based DiHaj, is representing Azerbaijan, and pretty good they are too.

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Woodstock Without Borders: One Caucasus Festival

I’ve been meaning to attend the annual One Caucasus festival since it started three years ago, but this year’s event, held 25-28 August in the Georgian village of Tserakvi, was the first time that I have. Naturally, I put together two video reports, in Azerbaijani for the BBC’s Azeri Service and in English for Meydan TV.

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DiHaj on BBC Azeri

Last month saw the annual Caucasus Music Awards held in Tbilisi, arguably the cultural centre of the South Caucasus, and featuring bands from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Because of time I couldn't do as much reporting as I'd like, but did get a chance to interview Azerbaijani Experimental Doom Pop band, DiHaj for the BBC's Azerbaijan Service.

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Zemo Alvani and Pankisi with the Sayat Nova Project

Last Friday wasn’t just my birthday, but also the day I ventured out into the regions of Georgia with the Sayat Nova Project, a Kickstarter-funded initiative to record the minority musical dialects of the South Caucasus. Last year I posted quite a few entries on the project as it documented ethnic Armenian, Azeri, and Avar traditional music.

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