Georgian Band in Ala Folkclub, Riga

On Saturday night I headed down to one of my favourite bars in Riga to check out a Georgian folk band name Chveneburebi. Having recently returned from a holiday in the Caucasus, I was eager to relive a bit of the culture and indulge in a little of the regional wine and food.

Ala Folk Club is always a great place to go. Located in an underground tavern, it has a friendly atmosphere, great Latvian food and snacks and the best selection of Latvian beers to be found anywhere in Riga. There is nothing better than Ala’s ‘grauzdiņi’ (fried garlicky dark bread) washed down with a local microbrewery beer. This night, however, it was a delicious Kakhetian red and some ‘lobio’ (bean stew) that were to accompany the night’s folk music.

It was the music that was the main feature of the night, and it didn’t disappoint. Dressed up in traditional costumes of their respective regions, including hats, boots and rather large knives, the looked impressive and sounded equally so. The 8 members, 4 singing and playing multiple instruments, 4 only singing, harmonised on ancient folk songs and more modern interpretations of traditional Georgian music. At various times during the performance, one member took to the floor for a bit of dancing, joined by some of his compatriots in the audience. Indeed the highlight of the night was watching a Georgian folk-dancing conga line weaving through the bar, led by a rather enthusiastic band member waving a knife above his head. Not your normal night out!

If you missed the concert, or didn’t hear about it, don’t worry, Chveneburebi will be performing a couple more times before they return home, most notably at 7pm on the 29th of December in the Jewish Museum, Skolas iela 6. I, for one, will be there, and I highly recommend you to join.

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