CULTURE

Rebetika authority delves once more into the once-outlawed song form

When local rebetika authority Panayiotis Kounadis’s book in his field of specialty, «Eis Anamnisin Stigmon Elkystikon» (In Memory of Attractive Moments), was published three years ago, he promised that more was yet in store. Sure enough, a second volume – once again in the Greek language – has surfaced from the same publisher, Katarti Press. Loaded with satisfying reading over 524 pages, Kounadis’s follow-up volume sheds light on various unknown aspects of rebetika music, the urban song form that emerged from Greece’s periphery early last century before gradually gaining wider recognition. Numerous publications on the topic have surfaced over the years from a variety of sources, including governments, political parties, experts, as rebetika’s commercial appeal increased. Kounadis again offers clarity on the hazy picture of the historic subject with his vast knowledge and the extensive research he obviously conducted as an individual who cherishes delving into the field. Kounadis, who studied civil engineering, has been an avid collector of old rebetika records for years, and also helped establish important institutions. He co-founded the Friends of Greek Music Society, as well as the Research and Study Center for Rebetika Songs and founded the Greek Discography Archive, which has been gathering invaluable information for decades. His latest publication is presented in three impressive parts. He opens with presentations on important artists such as Vangelis Papazoglou, Vassilis Tsitsanis, Costas Skarvelis, Giorgos Katsaros, Costas Bezos, Minos Matsas, Mikis Theodorakis and Marcos Vamvakaris. In the book’s second part, Kounadis addresses various topics related to Greek discography, such as the convergence of shadow-puppet theater with rebetika, the style’s hashish-related songs known as the hasiklidika and a look at Greek song’s other subcategories, the various ordeals that led to the evolvement of rebetika, the songs of Smyrna and Asia Minor, as well as an exceptionally interesting piece of text titled «Songs About Crime.» Besides its potential interest to researchers and specialists, the book’s third part provides worthwhile reading for music fans in general. Its contents include a chapter on the Greek capital’s Averoff and Korydallos prisons during the military dictatorship. Those particular pieces were originally published by an underground magazine of that period, Tetradia, written, published and distributed by prisoners of conscience. A large majority of these articles have also run in Kathimerini’s weekly supplement Epta Imeres, as well as in the Athens daily Eleftherotypia and Difono music magazine. Accumulated in the one publication, they comprise a treasure of information for any library.