Yes, the ethnic music orgy continues for one more round :-) But it’s a welcome break from our Manele journey, and is by popular request from Nikos and Pat. Rebetiko is sometimes described as “the Greek Blues”. I love this music - as indeed I love most things Greek - and pride myself on being something of an expert as I’ve quite a large collection (having lived near reputedly Europe’s largest rebetico music shop, in Haringey, North London) and have read a book on it – Gail Holst’s excellent Road to Rembetika. Due to the Rebetico milieu's low-life reputation some reactionary Greek governments banned the music. This rather compounded the as miserable as sin aspect of it. But the sound of the bouzouki sends me, particularly a good taksim* – the extemporising before hitting the tune proper – but skip it if it’s not your glass of tea:
Here’s a short clip – and here’s a longer one, should you find you like them - of the two biggest names of old-time rebetico: Vasilis Tsitsanis** and Sotiria Bellou. He’s hardly an exciting performer to watch and she doesn’t have a perfect voice, but that’s not the point. They’re totally “inside” the music, and you’re requested to be so also: just wag your head, knowingly, philosophically, in sympathy with the ongoing Greek Tragedy of being shafted by Turks, your own governments, the Earl of Elgin and, now, overly complacent EU central bankers. Sotitria has the additional glamour of being a drunk, a gambler, a lesbian, and of having once served time for throwing acid in her husband’s face; but she's a legend, and somebody who helped many of her fellow musicians:
* I’m pretty sure this word is from Turkish. In fact, early Rebetico, having been in quite large part performed by the Smyrna Greeks who were forced to leave Turkey in 1923, can sound surprisingly "oriental".
** A Greek musician told me that Tsitsanis is mainstream and that Markos Vamvakaris is The Man. I’ve got some of the latter’s music but frankly his voice is so lousy that to “get it” I guess you have to understand the words, which I don’t.