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Jamming at the Bruderschaft Beer House in Sochi, Russia

October 13, 2014

The Bruderschaft is in the background.

The Bruderschaft is in the background.

SOCHI, Russia – Just when I thought I had finally failed for the first time ever in the last six years that I have been attending Formula One races around the world and vowing to find a place to play at each event, just at the last moment, the last night in Sochi, Russia, at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, that’s when I left the restaurant, walked out the door and heard the sound of live music. Suddenly, I had a hope, a last ditch, last attempt, last offering, possibility of perhaps being able to play on stage in Russia.

So I looked around and saw across from the Russian restaurant where I had eaten – the Graf Orlov – and also across from the facing Italian restaurant where I had eaten on the previous two nights – the Il Bacilico – that there was a massive beer house called the Bruderschaft, and that the music emanated from within. It also turned out to be the same location where I knew some journalist colleagues had gone for a few drinks. So failing the possibility of playing music, there would at least be a bit of conversation to be had.

This whole complex, you must understand, is part of the Azimut Hotel on the site of the former Winter Olympics, now right next to the Sochi Autodrom Formula One circuit, where the inaugural Russian Grand Prix took place yesterday. The area was full of Formula One teams, journalists and other personnel, in addition to spectators and other Grand Prix related people. It was the same complex where I had played in my hotel lobby on the first two nights – only noted once on this blog – and while it was all very comfortable, I had realized that in choosing a location to stay near the racetrack, I had also found myself in a world without the kind of nightlife that was likely to spawn an open mic, open jam, or other open live music event. Wrong.

So I walk into the Bruderschaft, and I am approached by a woman manager, and she asks if I want a table. I say, “Well, I really want to sing, play music.” “Yes, of course, you can do that.” I looked at her in disbelief, and then looked at the funny little covered stage in the middle of the beer house bar, and on the stage were three musicians: A guitarist who also sang, a man on saxophone and another on keyboards.

It turned out that the man on guitar singing was just another client, and that the other two were the house musicians. It turned out, even better, that another one or two people from the public went up on stage afterwards, and when I asked if I could play and sing, the answer from the stage, too, was sure, of course.

And so it was that I had discovered, if not quite an open mic…yes, an open mic. And so it was that I played “Wicked Game” and “I Won’t Back Down,” me on the electric guitar and vocals, and the keyboard player on the keyboards and the saxophone player on the sax. And boy, was it fun. Playing Russia, just when I figured I had been defeated and would for the first time not play in a new country where I was visiting for my work.

I had not forced myself to take the train to the downtown, central part of this vast ocean front holiday resort area, the southern Russian holiday mecca. I had not taken the risk, despite going all the way to Russia, to go then all the way into the downtown area and spend hours searching the streets maybe only to either find nothing, or to play until it was so late I could not find my way back. After all, I had a job to do. But then, there it was, done, I’d found a place to play on stage with Russian musicians in Russia. What a blast! Hope I get to go again next year, and then I’ll search further afield.

I did, by the way, check out the beachfront area of nearby Adler, which was ten minutes away in a taxi. But it was so stretched out in area, also, that trying to sort my way around all the many bars and pubs and music joints, as just too bit a thing to do in a single night. I was in Sochi for around five nights, but the logistics after choosing the Olympic Village as my hotel area, were just not up to it.

In any case, there it was, on my doorstep from the beginning. At the Bruderschaft in the Azimut Hotel area in Sochi. And the open armed, open mic policy of the musicians and the management, was just like what I find everywhere else in the world, when it comes to music joints and vibes. Check it out!

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