Two extraordinarily successful Greek bands arrive from Thessaloniki to show us what rembetiko, the Greek version of blues, is all about. The 1923 peace treaty that returned Eastern Thrace and Izmir (Smyrna) to Turkey also required it to renounce any claims on territories outside the mother country, forcing the local inhabitants into a process of 'exchange migration' based on their religion. Greece lost around half a million Muslims, while its Christian population increased by around a million and a half. The new arrivals from Anatolia brought with them their café music, in large measure inspired by the hashish that was still legal at the time. Greek musicians, in turn, adopted this intoxicating tradition as their own - and a previously unknown culture evolved in the cafés of Piraeus, Athens and Thessaloniki. One of the most popular composers of this music was the bouzouki player and singer Manolis Chiotis, who was as famed for his many classic songs as he was for tuning his instrument as if it were a guitar. Dimitris Mystakidis is the most popular folk guitarist in Greece, with credits on more than 80 albums and three highly successful ones to his own name, including one of arrangements of Chiotis's songs entitled Esperanto. His most recent release, America, with songs from the Greek exodus to the United States, came out in 2017.
Loxandra, also considered a principal wellspring of rembetiko, made their début in 2006. Since reconstituting themselves in 2015, however, the band have also been open to new directions and trends. Palpable on their 2017 album Loxandra in Transition is the influence of Balkan and Latin music, even as it preserves the characteristic sound of archaic Greek and Near Eastern musical instruments.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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