Being a big fan of street performers it was great taking a stroll around the Latvian capital city Riga. It is only a small city, the old town area can be covered in a couple of hours at a dawdle. There are plenty of musicians to discover around the streets.
These performing artists come in all shapes and guises, individuals, trios or bands, playing brass, woodwind or stringed instruments the sounds of classical, jazz or popular music drift along many alleyways and streets. Few seem to include singing but often this is actually more desirable.
Not every musician can be described as talented, a few would be better finding another source of income, at least for the sake of those walking the streets! Straggled cat maybe an apt description but having the courage to perform in public is beyond many of us whether we can play an instrument or not.
Sexual equality is thankfully recognised in the public places of Riga, there are as many women musicians as men. Their talent is at least equal to the men’s and both sexes have some top artists. Ageism isn’t any barrier either as young bloods and seasoned performers alike are found around the city.
It seems likely that many are music students paying their way through their studies and this is common with street performers throughout the world.
One of my favourite group of performers is a band of guys which apparently plays regularly near the central park. Their music is pretty good, but they are a bunch of characters, the eccentric group dress up as women. Wearing skirts and headscarves, it’s unlikely they are genuine cross-dressers, just enjoying a bit of fun and providing something slightly different. It is blatantly obvious however that they are enjoying themselves throughout their performances, they are always lively and attract a decent audience whenever they play. Perhaps they will start a trend in transgender urban artists.
Some are obviously homeless but deserve respect for not merely sitting and begging. They are attempting to retain their dignity and making the most of whatever talent they have in hope of earning their next meal. I have discussed my views on giving to beggars at length but still often drop some coins in a performers hat or cup.
Riga has a slightly bohemian character and this adds to the appeal of a city which already has numerous attractions and reasons to visit. The city also enjoys a lively cafe culture and the performers are often within earshot of those enjoying a coffee, beer or wine. Hardly surprising I enjoyed Riga so much.