Bo Diddley still has the blues at 78

Blues dignitary Bo Diddley, whose enduring and influential course in music was acknowledged by the industry with the artist’s induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame over a decade ago, will headline a loaded bill of worthwhile events in Athens tomorrow, dubbed History of Rock’n’Roll by its organizer. Diddley, 78, will be preceded by the relatively much younger, yet also veteran, New York garage rock act, The Fleshtones, a regular visitor here in recent years, and a local band, Speedball. Excerpts of the newly released documentary on the late bluesman Screamin’ Jay Hawkins by Greek director Nikos Triandafyllidis, called I Put a Spell on Me, which is currently playing at local cinemas, will also be screened throughout the evening. A true blues legend, Diddley, whose explosive trademark sound and technique on the guitar have captivated and influenced countless younger colleagues – two of his more famous disciples being Keith Richards and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, needless to say – has wound down his recording activity over the past couple of decades. My sound has to do with my origins, with New Orleans. Many different races live in New Orleans – French, Indian, African…If you take all the elements and mix them up, you end up with my music, said Diddley, who moved from his birthplace to Chicago as a seven-year-old, in an earlier interview. Despite his reduced recording activity, Diddley continues to perform regularly, often with younger, respectful artists, including the aforementioned Richards and Wood. In what was a major highlight of his career, he joined a tour with the revered, now-defunct punk act, The Clash, for its tour of the classic album London Calling in the late 1970s. Diddley’s latest in a series of younger co-performers, The Fleshtones, whose members are now in their 40s, made their debut appearance in Greece back in 1987, on a bill that included the post-punk L.A. band The Dream Syndicate and Australian garage-pop band the Hoodoo Gurus. Of these – all formidable underground acts for their time – only The Fleshtones survive. Like many other similar-minded peers, the band, led by a charismatic frontman in Peter Zaremba – a former host of the MTV alternative music show, Cutting Edge, in the early 1980s – characterized the revival of raw, guitar-based rock’n’roll in underground circles around the time Zaremba’s show was on the air. On celluloid, but still devoted to music, Triandafyllidis’s documentary on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is an introspective work about the character behind the eccentric showman. The artist suddenly died while the film’s director was still in the process of collecting and working on his material, which includes footage of Hawkins’s final concert performance in Greece about a month before his death and interviews with various artists. All this takes place tomorrow, but the action will be preceded tonight with a night devoted to Bo Diddley’s music at one of the capital’s most dedicated blues haunts, the Blues Bar (20 Panormou, Ambelokipi, tel 643.7667). -On Handies there seems to be more enquiry in the US Gulf with 2-3 new stems within November. The 36,000 dwt M/V Ariston has made delivery in direct continuation with Pan Ocean to carry a Cargill Stem from the US Gulf to Morocco at around USD 7,000 daily.

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