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Elvis Lives – in Tashkent!

17 Jun

Good news for Central Asia’s Elvis  fans – Tashkent’s Elvis bar has finally reopened its doors.

The bar is decorated with Elvis memorabilia and posters of other iconic Western stars such as Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles. Sadly, the Elvis carpet, which used to adorn the bar’s ceiling, was nowhere to be seen.

On a recent Friday night, a local covers band was playing to a packed house, keeping the torch of rock music aflame in Uzbekistan despite the authorities attempts to counter the dangers of ‘moral degradation’ of the youth.  Western music forms such as Heavy Metal and Rap were criticised as being ‘Satanic music’ created by ‘evil forces’.

You can help keep the flame burning by following the Elvis bar on facebook.



Kazakhstan: The Nightingale to Fly the Nest?

4 Apr

Kazakhstan has been rocked by the news that top pop duo Nan and his Nightingale are to split after a glittering  15-year association. The Nightingale, aka Yermukhamet Kabidinovich Yertysbayev,  is said to be leaving on a midnight train to Georgia, where he will take up a position as a solo Beatles impersonator.

Meanwhile, Nan will continue alone – just one man and his dombra.

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!(A Bribe After Midnight)

14 Jan

Uzbek pop sensation, GooGoosha, is set to inflict her latest release on the world. To show her gratitude to the Swedish-Finnish telecoms giant TeliaSonera, accused of paying substantial bribes to associates of the Uzbek pop idol cum designer cum jeweller cum diplomat cum dictator’s daughter to  secure its presence in Uzbekistan, GooGoosha will do a reworking of the old Abba fave Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Bribe After Midnight).

Here Comes Central Asia’s Supergroup?

19 Oct

This clip of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov revealing his talent on the guitar, spotted by EurasiaNet, got Kazaxia thinking about other musical  members of Central Asia’s ruling families and the supergroup they could create if they were to get together.

Uzbekistan’s royal family has its very own pop star in residence, Gulnara Karimova, or to use her stage name GooGoosha, eldest daughter of President Islam Karimov. She could duet with part-time opera diva, Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, while Berdy strums away in the background.

It’s not clear what Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s ruling families could bring to the mix. Perhaps the Kyrgyz could supply the security, with their extensive recent experience of upheaval.  Maybe Tajikistan could carry the hat around the audience with all proceeds going to the Rogun dam project.


GooGoosha’s Uzbek Pussy Riot Moment?

9 Aug

While western rock stars have been queueing up to come out in support of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot, Uzbekistan’s diva supreme, Gulnara Karimova, or GooGoosha to her fans, has allegedly come out in support of a cause close to her heart  – money laundering.

Sketchy reports are coming in from Uzbekistan – the land of smoke and mirrors,  that GooGoosha, the eldest daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, was behind a recent protest in Tashkent that targetted the Swiss consulate after two Coca-Cola Uzbekistan executives were arrested in Switzerland for alleged money laundering.

Madonna comes out in support of Pussy Riot

It’s possible that GooGoosha was motivated by musicians such as Sting and Madonna coming out in support of Pussy Riot, currently on trial for insulting Orthodox Christians and getting up Putin’s nose. But it seems she didn’t follow in Madonna’s steps as there were no reports of GooGoosha donning a balaclava.

It was just as well that GooGoosha’s protest was held on a Saturday, when the consulate was closed, as the Tashkent rumour mill hinted that there were plans to invade the building and smother the consulate’s cuckoo clocks in a mixture of fondue and melted chocolate, which would have caused havoc for the time-conscious Swiss.

Where’s Kazakhstan’s Pussy Riot?

7 Feb

With unsanctioned  gatherings set to become a feature of the political landscape in Kazakhstan, maybe it’s time for the beleaguered opposition to look to expand its horizons by tapping into some of the  methods being used in Russia.

Pussy Riot perform in their trademark day-glo balaclavas (

Kazaxia was particularly taken with Pussy Riot, the female Russian punk collective, which has played a series of impromptu gigs on Red Square and atop a detention centre and a trolley bus to demonstrate against the men of short stature tandem running the Kremlin.

How about a dombra-wielding collective comprised of feminists from Kazakhstan to shake up the grey suited men of both the authorities and the opposition?

In common with Kazkahstan, Russia also has strict controls on people exercising their constitutional right to free assembly – some witty types in Barnaul came up with a toy protest with toy figures holding mini placards. This has got the authorities wondering whether such a gathering can be classified as ‘unsanctioned’.

Kazakhstan’s rock-aid for Afghanistan

29 Sep

Almaty-based rockers Eklektika are to fly the flag for Kazakhstan in Kabul at Sound Central, the first international rock festival to be held in Afghanistan, a country that does not normally spring to mind as a hotbed of rock music.

The festival brings together bands from Afghanistan and Central Asia, including District Unknown and Kabul Dreams from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan’s Tears of the Sun, for what is being described by the organisers as the world’s first ‘stealth concert’.

The highlight of the festival, a gala concert, is planned for early October but the location is being kept under wraps because of security concerns. Ticket-holders will be informed of the venue a few hours beforehand by text message or email according to festival organiser Travis Beard of Kabul-based group White City.

Eklektika represented its home country in London in 2010 at the Global Battle of the Bands. Click here to hear a sample of this band’s music, described on its website as ’emotional guitar music’.

Sting Proves Astana Party Pooper

4 Jul

It looks like  Sting has taken Kazaxia’s advice, as the veteran British rocker pulled out of his planned concert in Astana, Kazakhstan amid concerns over human rights abuses in the country. He came under pressure from Amnesty International to cancel his show scheduled for 4 July because of the

repression and crackdown against oil workers, their union leaders, their legal representatives and of the human rights NGOs working with them

Sting got into trouble for playing a concert in Uzbekistan for Gulnara Karimova in 2009. Now he seems to have rediscovered his conscience and is once again positioning himself as the great human rights defender.

Earlier in the tour a date in Minsk, Belarus was cancelled, allegedly because of concerns over the economic situation in the country. Surely Lukashenko’s regime is much worse that the relatively benign one in Kazakhstan so it’s strange that Astana is taking the flak over its human rights’ record, whereas Belarus escaped criticism from Amnesty International.

The gig was to have been a central plank of the celebrations for the anniversary of the day Astana became Kazakhstan’s capital, 6 July, which also happens to be the birthday of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The Leader of the Nation is likely to be not very amused at this latest turn of events and heads could well roll in Astana. His birthday treats have a tendency to fall flat – in 2008 the birthday boy looked on stony-faced as a somewhat tired and emotional looking  Whitney Houston stumbled around the stage.

Sting hits Kazakhstan

2 Jul

Sting will be returning to Central Asia for a concert on 4July in Astana for the first time since he was stung by a fierce UK press reaction following his concert for Gulnara Karimova in Uzbekistan in 2009.

The concert is part of the ageing rocker’s world tour, called Symphonicity and is timed to coincide with the ongoing celebrations for President Nazarbayev’s birhtday, sorry I meant the anniversary of Astana becoming the capital of Kazakhstan on 6 July.

In honour of the occasion, Kazaxia has penned a little ditty to be sung to the tune of that old Police standard, Roxanne.

‘Oh Sting, you don’t have to play for dictators,
your money’s made now, you’re a billionaire,

Oh Sting, why you wanna sing for dictators,
those days are over, why should you care?’