A few years ago I was in a band with a few local friends in Bishkek.
One night after practice, we had an interesting conversation about the music scene in Bishkek. My wife prepared dinner and we put all our instruments away in the practice room (aka the kitchen). We ate in the living room as usual. During our conversation, we talked about what makes a great musician in Bishkek. I told them skill and professionalism makes a great musician. My drummer laughed and told me his opinion. He said that skill was not nearly as important as how you look and the quality of instruments you have determines your musical worth. I thought he was kidding but the other band members seemed to agree with him. In this town, your appearance is worth much more than your skill they said. Then I thought, “Oh, just like the music industry in America.” We laughed about how our band was not really “professional” by the standards of Bishkek. We also mocked how terrible some musicians are that have great instruments, and vice versa. After we were done laughing, my drummer told me that I am the best guitarist in Bishkek because I have two American Gibson electric guitars. I scoffed and told him that there are plenty of guitarists better than me. But if it is true that having the best guitars in Bishkek makes me the best guitarist in Bishkek, then I’ll take that title.