Monday, June 26, 2006

Heartwarming Excerpts and Concert Preparations

So I was having a cup of coffee with Samuel Mesropian, principal of the "Himnadram" Cultural Office and organiser of the Golden Guitar Festival in which I participated this last month. I made a comment on how I was so impressed that they gave one of the participants a guitar at the end of the festival because he hadn't owned one in 5 years. I was then told that after the fall of communism, this guy's employment basically became non-existent and eventually he ended up moving out of the city in desperation and into a summer residence (this is basically a stone hut in the mountains with no facilities or running water). Apparently he began growing his own food and only owned some old filthy clothes. However, when one of his friends heard about the Guitar Festival he convinced him to participate after buying him a fresh pair of clothes and cleaned him up for the auditions. I must say he was one of my favourite participants. The audience loved him too and I suppose no one realised where this guy was coming from. I think its fantastic that they got him fresh clothes and even gave him a guitar in the end. The love of music is so powerful.

Yerevan continues to be extremely hot. I have been busy in the studio and rehearsing for what will offically be my concert. We had a run through yesterday and although it seems it ought to be haphazard rehearsing once for a debut it all seemed to come togehter. I am looking forward to performing tomorrow and putting it behind me now too so I can fully focus on getting the recording done.

I had coffee with an old friend Raffi Meneshian who used to be my Camp Counselor. At the age of 15 he had played violin for me during the camp talent show and I had sang and we had won. He now runs Pomegranate Records which has a nice collection of artists under its name. It is funny how 15 years later we should see each other in Armenia. But that is the way Armenia is. I have come across so many faces from my childhood and some of us have made it here and its so great that we are still connected to our Armenianness. In so many ways after all the things we have been taught while growing up it is a sort of homecoming.

The latest on the village is that some of the wood is already ready and Yerkir should be heading up this weekend to put everything into action. I might sit in for the ride if I am able. Unfortunately my friends grandmother in the village has died. Her photo is in my May 25th blog entitled More From Armenia. Hard to believe she died suddenly - I remember her amazing blue eyes.

At the moment there is the mayhem of Meg Azg Meg Meshaguyt (One People One Culture) Festival going on around Armenia. Though I have been asked to participate the level of unorganisation was so unbearable that I turned it down in the end. They called me to a meeting on Thursday and asked if I could be 7 hours away with my 9 musicians the following day. The other concerts available also seemed to be last minute in random places so I though it better to focus on the one concert tomorrow. I managed 4 tv interviews all last week as well. I did two morning shows - one of which was a technical nightmare and unfortunately the one that is broadcast to the entire globe (as luck would have it!). I also did another morning show and a prerecorded show called "Hotline" that is done in English and specifically recorded for the diaspora and worldwide specatators. My host was Nina Hovanian - daughter of famous tycoon who married an Armenian war hero. She runs a shop here in Yerevan which has tremendously talented local artists. She is providing a lot of jobs and putting out and designing some really beautiful stuff. Apparently she met her husband when deciding to collect some flowers in what she didn't realise was a war zone. Naturally he dove on her and saved her life. Then there was love....

And so I shall leave it here for now though I could go on and on and on and on. Getting some concert prep work done. I shall be back from the land of heat and music with further news.



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