They are four, they are musicians and they are Georgians. Their stage is a dark tunnel under Rustaveli Avenue, the main street of Tbilisi.
By Aytan Alakbarova, Guler Mehdizade and Armine Narinyan
‘I like it though, playing in this tunnel, because we are our own boss‘, explains the pianist, who plays in the streets since ages. If he and his friends would play somewhere else, like in a local restaurant, the owner would probably ‘force’ them to play ‘the music he likes’. In the streets, they feel free.
For his ‘colleague’, Tamas Sersuadzehe, ‘you need strong nerves for working in the bars because people are very drunk. I used to play also in weddings. But for me the best place is the street‘.
Ten years ago, Sersuadzehe was a trolley-bus driver. ‘They are not existing anymore. There are now only buses and mini-buses. Until now, I could’nt find another job to survive‘. Now he is playing guitar for 4-5 hours every day.
Their income depend on a day and on the number of passers. They refused to answer how much they earn in a day. On week-ends, they can earn a good sum, because the Rustaveli avenue -the local Champs Elysées-, where they settled, is very frequented. ‘Yesterday, we met Ukrainian street musicians, who told us that they earn more because of the bigger population‘.
‘I used to have concert tours through the whole USSR, when I was young‘, – says the musician who hasn’t introduced himself. For him, it is ‘difficult to be a street musician, remembering that you used to play in big stages’. But in the streets, they still have a wider audience and ‘many listeners‘. Some of them express ‘their gratitude by talking with us, the others give money.’
About their play list, the four mostly play world well known hits – For Khundadze Elgodja, ‘our audience like melodies that are on their memories. It’s called ‘green music forever’.
Dato Tkhelidze © Guler Mehdizade