One Caucasus Festival: Free your mind


I have been living in Georgia since April but this country is still full of surprises for me. One of the recent ones was Annual International Festival One Caucasus, an interdisciplinary festival and a long-term borderland program that first took place in Georgia in 2014. The event was located in Marneuli region, at the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in a small village called Tserakvi, from 25th to 28th of August 2016.

I went on that festival by chance just because of my friend from Czech Republic who was visiting me here in Georgia. I was looking for some events or entertainment out of Tbilisi for us, when my Polish flatmate came and told me about One Caucasus. As I saw the poster of the festival, I expected rather an event for older generations, with folk and traditional music, but the fact it was for free, was really attractive for us. Eventually, we went to Marneuli without any expectations and I even did not check a program. Maybe because of that it was a really big and pleasant surprise for me.

One Caucasus 2016SKADYKTATOR 

We went there on Thursday on the first day of the festival. A free transportation from Tbilisi to Tserakvi was supposed to be arranged from the Station square. However, one day before or even a morning before the festival officially started, organizers changed the time of a departure of this bus. We were lucky we chose the afternoon bus and it had no impact on us. But I can imagine people waiting there in the morning…not exactly a pleasant beginning.

When we came to the Station square we spent about 15 minutes trying to find a sign of the festival somewhere, but there was nothing, no buses, no marshrutkas. We contacted the organizers to ask where exactly is the place to wait, but they told us the same what was written on a facebook event – nothing clear. However,  we stayed and waited on a spot we thought it could be the meeting point. After a while, people with backpacks were coming around us and in a while we knew we are all going to One Caucasus. It was already 30 minutes of waiting, when some of us tried to call to the organizers again, but we did not receive any clear answers.

In our small group we met guys from Georgian Rainbow festival (an international hippie festival) with their instruments, there was a group of people from Azerbaijan, few Polish people etc. Finally, one Georgian member of our collective took an initiative, found a marshrutka which could take us close to Tserakvi village and from that spot organizers promised to take us to the festival. The way there was amazing! Guys from Rainbow were playing on their drums and singing, we shared chacha with everyone and we also started to sing with them because the lyrics were quite simple and cute. For example: ,,It’s good, it’s good, it’s good to be free. Singing with birds and swimming in the sea. I love my family, I love my life, now I’m living in a coconut tree!” 

One Caucasus 2016Lelocity

The festival was not located in a village, but near by in a nature. There were no buildings but school and place for the tents was under the trees. Our international group from marshrutka sticked together till the end of the festival. First night there was only about twenty tents, most of the people arrived on Friday and the first night was really “family-like”, but also rest of the nights most of the visitors were coming back to Tbilisi after the main program.

With our new friends we started to be one big international family and created our own One Caucasus in the camp. Most of the people were from Azerbaijan, rest of them from Georgia and small group from Armenia, some people from Poland and Germany, one Indian guy, one Iranian and I think I was the only one from the Czech Republic. When there was no program, we were staying with our “family” in front of a camp fire, playing on guitars and drums and singing old traditional Georgian songs in punk style, Rainbow songs and sometimes some pop. Every day, every night, all the time we were sharing everything – food, drinks, alcohol, cigarettes and stuff like that, and I did not spend a single lari for whole festival. After the second day we actually realized we were quite lucky to meet people like that and stay there with them, because there was almost nothing else to do during the day and also after the main concerts which usually finished around 11 PM. So we spent most of the time in the camp and it was actually real fun.  From time to time we went to find some water, raspberries and blueberries and once we went to swim in a river where was one small beautiful lagoon. We enjoyed the hippie spirit of the event.

One Caucasus 2016

One Caucasus 2016

The main program – main bands and “international music projects” of the festival were simply amazing. Every night was a bit different but everything matched together. Mostly it was ska, reggae, rock, also traditional music, and as the name of the festival One Caucasus indicates, there were artists from the entire Caucasus (and not only) and sometimes all the musicians were performing together. Personally, I found really powerful a comment of one band where Armenians performed together with Azerbaijanis: ,,We send love from Armenia to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Armenia.” This sentence means a lot when there is still a political conflict between these two countries.

For me the most interesting were Huntertones (USA) who played on saxophones, trumpet and trombone, mixing jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, R&B, and rock – all written by the band’s frontmen. They reminded me my favorite band from Lithuania – Mood Sellers, which joined this year’s Street Music Day in Tbilisi, organized by Youth Association DRONI. Another really interesting artist was Pako Sarr, a singer from Senegal. His music connects African roots with western influences. He’s active on the World Music scene, expressing himself in genres like afro, reggae, soul and rock. Huntertones and Pako Sarr joined performances of other bands several times and all together they created amazing energizing mixtures. I was jumping, dancing, singing, laughing….it was all so full of positive energy vibes.

One Caucasus 2016Huntertones

Many locals, mainly youngsters, joined the festival. You could also see families with children, which was a positive surprise for me in a part of Georgia I considered conservative (especially in the countryside), as it was such a type of “free” festival. I need to describe one very interesting moment. Band called Reggaeon from Georgia, was playing one song and chorus was “Gana, gana, ganja” in front of this crowd of locals and kids. Nobody had any problem with that. That was so funny and surprising for me, because I know about tough anti-drug policy in Georgia. Another experience I remembered, was a huge fight. Not many people were fighting but there was a big crowd of people around,  nobody knew what was happening. It seemed that a conflict arose among the locals. There was no police, no security present at the festival, so for a while it looked totally out of control but nobody was injured. This contrasted with the free, open minded and friendly atmosphere of the whole festival. I was thinking maybe locals came there just because nothing else interesting was happening in the village and they didn’t care so much about a meaning of the festival. Maybe….maybe not. But at the same time, the fact that there was no police, no security, no restrictions was actually great. You could bring your own food, drinks, anything, nobody minded that.

One Caucasus 2016Huntertones  & SKADYKTATOR

Before the main evening program started, some additional activities were offered to the visitors. Amnesty International USA came to present their #whereisprageeth campaign. There was a mini documentary screening about this case, but it could have been better with speakers, which unfortunately weren’t provided. A multinational panel discussion “Freedom as it is Seen in The Caucasus, America, North Africa and Asia.” took place, introducing really interesting guests as Rahman Badalov, who received the first “One Caucasus Freedom Award” at the festival. This award was based on his courageous statements in favor of improving human rights in his native Azerbaijan. Other guests were Rick Roth (USA), Mohammed Refai (Tunisia), and Thupten Kunga (Tibet).Unfortunately, these guests had only little time to introduce themselves and answer what freedom means for them. Then the program started, and no discussion with the audience actually happened. That was a pity. I believe, organizers could have given them more space.

Although there were some organizational problems, we got over that all easily. I understand how hard it is to organize an event in Georgian countryside, with low budget and group of international volunteers. We all enjoyed One Caucasus to the fullest and we are already looking forward to the next year!

Tavisupleba shen. Tavisupleba me. Tavisupleba kvelas!

One Caucasus 2016
Reggaeon

Photos: Karolina Zagórska
More info about the festival: http://www.onecaucasus.org/

One Caucasus Festival: Free your mindhttp://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14079726_889626537809207_1244098735890456104_n-680x453.jpghttp://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14079726_889626537809207_1244098735890456104_n-150x100.jpg Kristyna Kyankova CultureEventsHuman rightsSociety,,,,,,,
I have been living in Georgia since April but this country is still full of surprises for me. One of the recent ones was Annual International Festival One Caucasus, an interdisciplinary festival and a long-term borderland program that first took place in Georgia in 2014. The event was located...
<strong>I have been living in Georgia since April but this country is still full of surprises for me. One of the recent ones was Annual International Festival One Caucasus, an interdisciplinary festival and a long-term borderland program that first took place in Georgia in 2014. The event was located in Marneuli region, at the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in a small village called Tserakvi, from 25th to 28th of August 2016. </strong> <span style="font-weight: 400">I went on that festival by chance just because of my friend from Czech Republic who was visiting me here in Georgia. I was looking for some events or entertainment out of Tbilisi for us, when my Polish flatmate came and told me about One Caucasus. As I saw the poster of the festival, I expected rather an event for older generations, with folk and traditional music, but the fact it was for free, was really attractive for us. Eventually, we went to Marneuli without any expectations and I even did not check a program. Maybe because of that it was a really big and pleasant surprise for me.</span> <p style="text-align: center"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-642 size-large" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14100267_888057974632730_448253196345992416_n-680x453.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016" width="680" height="453" /><em>SKADYKTATOR </em></p> <p style="text-align: left"><span style="font-weight: 400">We went there on Thursday on the first day of the festival. A free transportation from Tbilisi to Tserakvi was supposed to be arranged from the Station square. However, one day before or even a morning before the festival officially started, organizers changed the time of a departure of this bus. We were lucky we chose the afternoon bus and it had no impact on us. But I can imagine people waiting there in the morning…not exactly a pleasant beginning.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left"><span style="font-weight: 400"> When we came to the Station square we spent about 15 minutes trying to find a sign of the festival somewhere, but there was nothing, no buses, no marshrutkas. We contacted the organizers to ask where exactly is the place to wait, but they told us the same what was written on a facebook event - nothing clear. However,  we stayed and waited on a spot we thought it could be the meeting point. After a while, people with backpacks were coming around us and in a while we knew we are all going to One Caucasus. It was already 30 minutes of waiting, when some of us tried to call to the organizers again, but we did not receive any clear answers. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left"><span style="font-weight: 400">In our small group we met guys from Georgian Rainbow festival (an international hippie festival) with their instruments, there was a group of people from Azerbaijan, few Polish people etc. Finally, one Georgian member of our collective took an initiative, found a marshrutka which could take us close to Tserakvi village and from that spot organizers promised to take us to the festival. The way there was amazing! Guys from Rainbow were playing on their drums and singing, we shared chacha with everyone and we also started to sing with them because the lyrics were quite simple and cute. For example: ,,It's good, it's good, it's good to be free. Singing with birds and swimming in the sea. I love my family, I love my life, now I'm living in a coconut tree!” </span></p> <p style="text-align: center"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-644 size-large" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14117788_889626791142515_573753141653195310_n-680x453.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016" width="680" height="453" /><em>Lelocity</em></p> <span style="font-weight: 400">The festival was not located in a village, but near by in a nature. There were no buildings but school and place for the tents was under the trees. Our international group from marshrutka sticked together till the end of the festival. First night there was only about twenty tents, most of the people arrived on Friday and the first night was really “family-like”, but also rest of the nights most of the visitors were coming back to Tbilisi after the main program. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">With our new friends we started to be <strong>one big international family</strong> and created our own <em>One Caucasus</em> in the camp. Most of the people were from Azerbaijan, rest of them from Georgia and small group from Armenia, some people from Poland and Germany, one Indian guy, one Iranian and I think I was the only one from the Czech Republic. When there was no program, we were staying with our “family” in front of a camp fire, playing on guitars and drums and singing old traditional Georgian songs in punk style, Rainbow songs and sometimes some pop. </span>Every day, every night, all the time we were sharing everything - food, drinks, alcohol, cigarettes and stuff like that, and I did not spend a single lari for whole festival.<span style="font-weight: 400"> After the second day we actually realized we were quite lucky to meet people like that and stay there with them, because there was almost nothing else to do during the day and also after the main concerts which usually finished around 11 PM. So we spent most of the time in the camp and it was actually real fun.  From time to time we went to find some water, raspberries and blueberries and once we went to swim in a river where was one small beautiful lagoon. We enjoyed the hippie spirit of the event.</span> <img class="wp-image-646 size-large aligncenter" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/IMG_20160826_093131-680x383.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016 " width="680" height="383" /> <img class="aligncenter wp-image-647 size-large" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/IMG_20160826_103435-680x383.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016" width="680" height="383" /> <span style="font-weight: 400">The main program - main bands and “international music projects” of the festival were simply amazing. Every night was a bit different but everything matched together. Mostly it was ska, reggae, rock, also traditional music, and as the name of the festival One Caucasus indicates, there were artists from the entire Caucasus (and not only) and sometimes all the musicians were performing together. Personally, I found really powerful a comment of one band where Armenians performed together with Azerbaijanis: ,</span><b>,We send love from Armenia to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Armenia.” </b><span style="font-weight: 400">This sentence means a lot when there is still a political conflict between these two countries. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">For me the most interesting were </span><b>Huntertones</b><span style="font-weight: 400"> (USA) who played on saxophones, trumpet and trombone, mixing jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, R&B, and rock - all written by the band’s frontmen. They reminded me my favorite band from Lithuania - Mood Sellers, which joined this year's Street Music Day in Tbilisi, organized by Youth Association DRONI. Another really interesting artist was </span><b>Pako Sarr, </b>a singer <span style="font-weight: 400">from Senegal. His music connects African roots with western influences. He's active on the World Music scene, expressing himself in genres like afro, reggae, soul and rock. Huntertones and Pako Sarr joined performances of other bands several times and all together they created amazing energizing mixtures. I was jumping, dancing, singing, laughing….it was all so full of </span><b>positive energy vibes.</b> <p style="text-align: center"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-639 size-large" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14079716_889627894475738_6306648851112622127_n-680x453.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016" width="680" height="453" /><em>Huntertones</em></p> <span style="font-weight: 400">Many locals, mainly youngsters, joined the festival. You could also see families with children, which was a positive surprise for me in a part of Georgia I considered conservative (especially in the countryside), as it was such a type of “free” festival. I need to describe one very interesting moment. Band called</span><b> Reggaeon</b><span style="font-weight: 400"> from Georgia, was playing one song and chorus was “Gana, gana, ganja” in front of this crowd of locals and kids. Nobody had any problem with that. That was so funny and surprising for me, because I know about tough anti-drug policy in Georgia. Another experience I remembered, was a huge fight. Not many people were fighting but there was a big crowd of people around,  nobody knew what was happening. It seemed that a conflict arose among the locals. There was no police, no security present at the festival, so for a while it looked totally out of control but nobody was injured. </span><span style="font-weight: 400">This contrasted with the free, open minded and friendly atmosphere of the whole festival. I was thinking maybe locals came there just because nothing else interesting was happening in the village and they didn't care so much about a meaning of the festival. Maybe….maybe not. But at the same time, the fact that there was no police, no security, no restrictions was actually great. You could bring your own food, drinks, anything, nobody minded that.</span> <p style="text-align: center"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-643 size-large" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14100322_889627811142413_2150644422560014642_n-680x453.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016" width="680" height="453" /><em>Huntertones  & SKADYKTATOR</em></p> <span style="font-weight: 400">Before the main evening program started, some additional activities were offered to the visitors. Amnesty International USA came to present their </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/whereisprageeth?source=feed_text&story_id=888904644548063"><span style="font-weight: 400">#</span><span style="font-weight: 400">whereisprageeth</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> campaign</span><span style="font-weight: 400">. There was a mini documentary screening about this case, but it could have been better with speakers, which unfortunately weren't provided. A</span><span style="font-weight: 400"> multinational panel discussion “Freedom as it is Seen in The Caucasus, America, North Africa and Asia.” took place, introducing really interesting guests as Rahman Badalov, who received the first “One Caucasus Freedom Award” at the festival. This award was based on his courageous statements in favor of improving human rights in his native Azerbaijan. Other guests were Rick Roth (USA), Mohammed Refai (Tunisia), and Thupten Kunga (Tibet).Unfortunately, these guests had only little time to introduce themselves and answer what freedom means for them. Then the program started, and no discussion with the audience actually happened. That was a pity. I believe, organizers could have given them more space. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">Although there were some organizational problems, we got over that all easily. I understand how hard it is to organize an event in Georgian countryside, with low budget and group of international volunteers. We all enjoyed One Caucasus to the fullest and we are already looking forward to the next year! </span> <p style="text-align: center"><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Tavisupleba shen. Tavisupleba me. Tavisupleba kvelas!</span></i></p> <p style="text-align: center"><img class="alignnone wp-image-641 size-large" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/14095730_888837904554737_3748520956571737797_n-680x453.jpg" alt="One Caucasus 2016" width="680" height="453" /> <em>Reggaeon</em></p> <p style="text-align: left">Photos: <a id="js_1bm" class="profileLink" href="https://www.facebook.com/karolina.zgk">Karolina Zagórska </a><span style="font-weight: 400">More info about the festival: </span><a href="http://www.onecaucasus.org/"><span style="font-weight: 400">http://www.onecaucasus.org/</span></a></p>
Kristyna Kyankova
Human, women and animal rights activist from Brno, Czech Republic. Currently on EVS in Georgia for 10 months. Focused on various topics from different fields. Feminism, sexism, objectifying / sustainability, ecology, environment / refugees, minorities / gender, LGBT / culture, life style, fashion / Interested in visiting places in Tbilisi and Georgia and enjoying life here as much as possible!