CULTURE

Seasoned acts in unfamiliar roles

As the imminent winter’s concert schedule for Athens begins to fill up, some of its standout features hail from the domestic front, mostly northern Greece – arguably the country’s most creative circuit over the past couple of decades. Interestingly, several renowned acts, set to perform in the coming weeks, will be taking to the stage in unanticipated match-ups. Thanassis Papaconstantinou, an intriguing artist with a rapidly growing following, will be joined by a new collaborator, Martha Frintzila, on vocals for renditions of fresh material to appear on a forthcoming album. They will play two four-day runs at the Hora Theater (18 Amorgou, Kypseli, tel 210.867.3945) between November 5-8 and November 12-15. Tickets, which should sell fast for the limited-capacity venue, are on sale at the theater’s box office and at Ticket House (42 Panepistimiou, tel 210.360.8366). Contrary to his familiar main-act role, fellow songsmith Socrates Malamas will, for a change, accompany a Germany-based songwriter, Maria Thoidou, on vocals for her own material off a new album just released. They’ve been booked for three nights, November 5-7, at the Syrmos club (Kolonou & 14 Odysseos, Metaxourgeio, tel 210.520.3661). Then there’s the Cretan balladeer Loudovikos Ton Anogeion, who will share the stage with rebetika revivalist Maryo, who provided vocals for a set of songs on a new album. The pair will perform Monday-and-Tuesday shows throughout November at Syrmos. Michalis Siganidis, best known to the wider public as the double bassist in two established combos, vocalist Savvina Yiannatou’s sublime backing band Primavera en Salonico and old-school Greek surrealists Himerini Kolymvites, has had a less conspicuous – yet very innovative and productive – career of his own going. Siganidis rarely performs as a solo act but, joined by a host of dexterous players, he will present segments of his accumulating material over three nights, October 29-31, at the Syrmos club (see above). Returning to Papaconstantinou, the Larissa-based songwriter has kept largely clear of the big-city scene over his 10-year recording career, but recently he has figured as a major attraction to snowballing urban crowds. His past albums have often featured sensual, honey-dripping vocals by Melina Kana. Now, the songwriter who has produced some of the Greek contemporary scene’s more potent and eloquent material – both musically and lyrically – is apparently preparing a new album with Frintzila, his singing co-star for the upcoming dates. She was well received by the songwriter’s loyal fans at recent summer shows. They will be backed by Papaconstantinou’s jelling band, Laikedelica, a star-studded cast who have offered immense support to the often stage-shy performer. Papaconstantinou’s soul mate, Malamas, a guiding force for the former during his earlier and more hesitant years, will accompany songwriter Thoidou, a relatively unknown musical entity here although with a respectful and solid background. Thoidou, who has been based in Germany for nearly a decade, has worked, both on stage and in the studio, with acts such as Nikos Papazoglou, Goran Bregovic, Costas Theodorou, and Malamas, who, like Thoidou, has spent a considerable portion of his life living in Germany. Thoidou has collaborated there with various ensembles, among them the Armos Ensemble and Tropos Quartet. Her latest album, «Tis Nychtas ta Makria Mallia,» with Malamas on board, is the artist’s third. It will also feature in the musical pair’s upcoming shows. The rest of the repertoire should be impromptu. Siganidis, a musical prankster whose solo work tends to fuse the dead serious with the absurd, will present a show titled «Group Therapy» with a multi-membered backing group, Sigrotima Lambraki, or Lambrakis Group – wordplay sparked by band member Harris Lambrakis (ney, keyboards and vocals) and the major Greek publishing group. Siganidis’s material can be just as playful. He is infamous among friends for using hidden mini-recording devices on them to record voice samples for his albums. «Mikres Angelies,» released in 1999, is a good example. It’s full of unsuspecting voices, known and unknown. This could also be said of Siganidis’s upcoming shows. His material’s set framework could, depending on the individual and collective improvisational moods generated by eight accompanying musicians – that’s the Lambrakis Group – take on a life of its own.