Part two: A Petersburg artist – an artist in the land of snows
23:30 One of the most well-known street musicians in St. Petersburg Uncle Misha is at his usual spot next to the Griboedov Canal metro exit. He always stands on a small stool and plays trumpet.
– What is your favorite song? – he asks a girl in the crowd.
– I don’t know, – she answers confused.
– Then I will play Carmen for you, – decides Uncle Misha and he begins to play.
People exiting the metro station pass by. Some stop for a couple of minutes, some stay for the whole song. Some ask him to play their favorite one. Uncle Misha rarely resists. One man approaches him and asks him to play Tajikistan’s national anthem. “I don’t know it”, Uncle shakes his head, “but I will learn it, I promise”.
00:20 The last metro train has left Nevsky Prospekt station. St. Petersburg metro stops for the night giving young and not so young party-lovers an extra excuse to return home only in the morning. Crowds of talkative and drunk people are walking down Nevsky prospekt; from one bar street to another Nevsky is always an inevitable stop.
On the corner of Dumskaya – one of the oldest, craziest, dirtiest and most well-known party streets of the city – three musicians are playing their songs. Nikolay, Fedor and Lev have found the band “Expedition” about a year ago.
“We love street art, it is free medieval artistic expression”, says Nikolay. All three musicians used to work in offices and construction sites – ordinary boring jobs. “We were fed up with that. Playing music was a teenage dream of ours, when we were listening to bands like KINO, Boris Grebenshikov and Nirvana”, he adds.
That is how they started going out – to play in bars, cafes, but mostly here on Dumskaya street. “We earn more here”, they say, “People are drunk and happy, they dance to our songs and give us money”.
Street musicians of St. Petersburg all know each other. “Have you seen Uncle Misha?” they asks me. “He is one of the oldest”.
1:30 The crossroads of Dumskaya and Lomonosova street is a famous place. Nobody exactly knows how many bars are there and how they are called. People just flow from one door to another. Dumskaya’s one big party: old Russian rock mixes with Rihanna and dance music. At one point everybody stops caring with whom he is dancing and what he is drinking.
Despite the cold, half of the party is happening outside where illegal taxi drivers are ready to offer their services to those who are already done tonight or want to continue somewhere else. Several 24-hour shops provide those who don’t want to pay for the drinks in bars with booze overcharging 50 rubles after eleven. Two standard police wagons are standing on the corner. Indifferent and sleepy policemen are observing the mayhem.