I didn’t know anything about Kazakhstan other than I would need my passport to get there, but when an unexpected opportunity came up to do a festival called Jazzystan, I jumped at it. This musical Journey is about sharing a message with people and when you are blessed enough to actually travel and meet those people….? You just can’t say no. First thing -I went straight to Google and Wikipedia to study up, but there are some things you just have to experience first hand……….
Jazzystan is a music Festival, which despite it’s name is not solely for jazz music. It could easily just be called Goodmusicstan, having featured acts from Tourtured Soul to Omar, to my Reel People family. The Jazzystan team (Rustam (founder), Balu, Serik, Kalty) are very proud and knowledgable about their country. They are doing something really unique in a place that notably just gained independence with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It’s evident that a change is in the air, and Jazzystan is a part of that change.
(The guys are more like a family –and they treated us like family as well– unbelievable hospitality… a new bar has been set.)
You can feel it …… it’s Electric
Soon after my arrival, I met the guys from Electirc Empire. I was already a big fan…. these guys combine all the things I love about music. They play, write, sing, and they do each WELL (as in Church WELLLL). They have also crafted a classic album.
It’s funny, we didn’t even really discuss music as much as we hung out and were wowed by all Kazakhstan had to offer.
In direct contrast to our fast food lifestyle in NY, we sat down to 5 hour dinners – eat, drink, and be merry fests. Lots of laughs and great food, with flavor no doubt improved by the company… Such a welcome change of pace.
Music’s magic is practice. Chemistry developed while hanging out manifests on stage in an unrehearsed jam session.
This is called the show….
Truth moment….. I was a bit nervous at the press conference before the show. The only English spoken was that of Electric Empire, Balu (who was translating questions from what I imagine was primarily Kazakh and Russian), and yours truly. Having traveled without my band, I structured my show heavily around storytelling and crowd participation to transition between songs. –I was beginning to think I may have under estimated the language barrier……….
See… the great thing about rocking with a band is, if nothing else, you can feed off the energy of the other 5-8 people on stage. Well luckily for me, I had 1000+ people’s energy to feed off! The people were engaged, participating,….. they were great!
Music truly is a universal language.
Nothing like having a thousand people sing Love Revolution, Love’s in Need and Sure!
After my set I got to switch back to fan mode and join the crowd in watching Electric Empire throw down! And that they did! Being in the crowd, it was even more evident that people came to have a good time - singing, dancing and enjoying music the way it’s meant to be.
I am so thankful to Kazakhstan and her people for an unbelievably warm welcome. I can’t wait to go back. It looks like summer holds even more beauty. I am blessed to do what I do and I have grown that much more because of it.
Much love to my new brothers from down under and my new fam from Kazakhstan!
Do yourself a HUGE favor and check out Electric Empire’s music. Better yet — buy their album. http://electricempiremusic.com
Then expand your horizons and check out Kazakhstan & Jazzystan www.jazzystan.com
Amazing photography by www.ipostnikov.com and Daulet Sadvakassov…and some lesser images from my cell phone. lol (Click images to zoom in).