Transporting you back to the taverns and nightclubs of 1930s Athens and the port of Piraeus, an outstanding line-up of Greek musicians immerse you in the world of Markos Vamvakaris – the shoeshine boy turned ‘patriarch of Rebetiko’ who brought the gritty, underground blues of Greece to the mainstream.
Featuring the most popular compositions by Vamvakaris, curated by Lina Nikolakopoulou, one of Greece’s foremost lyricists, and performed alongside video projections and readings in German.
Markos was born in Syra in 1905 and left to seek a better life to Piraeus in 1917. He lived his entire life between those two harbors that destined his fortune. He always carried inside him all his memories from Syra, but his world was enriched by the tradition and the suffering of the immigrants that arrived in Piraeus during this period.
He had always been a manual worker (he worked as a docker, coal carrier, butcher, etc.) and interacted with poor people with no professional or financial security. Having gone through a lot of difficulties of his own, along with working class and marginal people, he could write in an original way, all their sufferings.
In 1933, he records his first album, in 1935, he writes the famous Greek song “Fragkosyriani”. In 1936 in Greece the dictatorship of Metaxas was prevailing followed by World War II and the Greek Civil War.
In other words, he experienced some of the most difficult periods of Greek contemporary history. It is very impressive that he expressed himself so poetically through his songs despite the fact that his life was so difficult. “Fragkosyriani” became the most famous “hasapiko” (Greek folk dance) in the whole world.
Markos’ lyrics entered Greeks’ heart and lips, while himself became the inspiration for all composers that followed. Who hasn’t murmured “haramata I ora treis tha’rtho na se xypniso (I will come at 3 o’clock in the night to wake you up) or “mia fountosi, mia floga exo apopse stin kardia (I have a fire, a flame in my heart), or “ta matoklada sou lampoun, san ta loulouda tou kampou” (your eyelashes sparkle like the flowers in the plains).
His contribution to the Greek music is very important as “zeibekiko” and “hasapiko” still speak in people’s hearts. They are the foundation stones of what we call community life. Furthermore, Markos
Vamvakaris was the first musician to introduce songs accompanied by bouzouki in Greek discography. Before his presence in the Greek music scene, instruments such as baglamas and bouzouki were considered marginal, to be played only in low dives. His recordings lead to the wider acceptance of this music that the Greeks love that much. He is the Patriarch of Rebetiko. One of the figures of our social mythology – despite the fact that he has been less “enlightened” than the following rebetiko creators. His
followers stepped on an existing music path.
Today, 45 years after his death, his figure and his work are more contemporary than ever. Markos was the one to express originally peoples’ discomfort inside poverty, social exclusion and their despair seeking the ways to live their life with dignity. His songs give out humanity and truth that seen comforting in this difficult period for the country.
During the concert, videos will be projected, created exclusively in Syra for this tribute project.