Armenia Dispatch: 11 – More Bambir

narek bambir

We left the market and headed to the house of the record producer I was talking about the other day. There, I met up with the guys from the band Bambir to talk to them about the rock scene and shot them playing and rehearsing.

We all gathered in the rather dark and cramped space, and the guys set up their instruments as we chatted. Bambir comes from Gyumri, the city where the 1985 earthquakehit the hardest. But as they told me, Gyumri is the city of humor, and so despite that tragedy, people who come from there are funny and warm. This was true in their case. All the guys, Narek (the lead singer and guitarist), Arik (the flautist), and Arman (the bassist) were upbeat, funny guys. (btw: the photo here is of Narek performing recently). They smoked and cracked jokes and were overall hilarious, cool guys. Their drummer, Ashot, was supposedly working at the local CD shop, and so couldn’t make it. We later learned this wasn’t true, that we was hanging out at home…I guess that’s rockers for you.

So the guys got their instruments set up and then started to play, and I’ll tell you, they were great. Really. Even in the cramped little room, that banged out some excellent songs. Narek played guitar and crooned like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Arik blew on the flute with great skill. These guys are the real deal. Real rockers from this little country in the Caucuses.Real musicians.

I asked Arik if he knew any Beatles on the flute, and he immediately launched into a cool little riff on Norwegian Wood, which Narek picked up on, and soon they were jamming on one of my favorite Beatles tunes of all time. These guys are great. I’ll try to post some of the stuff I shot when I get back to the states, but in the meantime, you ought to check them out. I’ll ask their producer if I can post a song or two, and you can download it to hear them. Side note about the band: They were voted Armenia’s best rock band like three years in a row (I’ll have to confirm this, but suffice to say, they are popular here…even if they’re not yet making enough dough to stop working at the CD shop…which makes for such a great story!). Tomorrow, I am going to catch them in concert, so I’ll tell you how good they are as performers, but my guess is they’re excellent.

So I wanted to shoot the Bambir guys walking around the city and so we took a stroll around Yerevan and I talked to the band and we did some shooting around the Parliament building and then around some of the old parts of the city. We ended up sitting and chatting a shooting next to a huge hole (and I mean huge) where they are building a new street here in Yerevan. I thought it was a cool spot to illustrate how much the city is changing. Anyway, we then stopped and had a couple of beers and I had to move onto my next project at the chess academy. But the shoot and the hanging with the Bambir guys went well, and so far the day was off to a good start.

Next dispatch coming up later….