Enduring favorite back for a devoted following

Several worthy local performers are among the Greek music acts now playing around Athens as the city’s winter-season concert activity heads for its final stretch. Acts include the potent songsmith Socrates Malamas, back in Athens from his rural base for his annual series of shows to a devout following. Malamas, who is scheduled to release a new album, «To Adeio Domatio» (The Empty Room), on February 21, can be expected to unveil forthcoming new material at his series of Monday-and-Tuesday shows at the Stavros Tou Notou club (35-37 Frantzi & Tharypou, Neos Cosmos, tel 210.922.6975). The shows, which began last night, run through April 5. On board with Malamas this season, as part of the singer-songwriter’s eight-member band, is guitarist Kleon Antoniou, a pivotal member of the inspired Greek folk-jazz group Mode Plagal. It should be interesting to hear how Antoniou, a real master of the electric guitar, and in demand for it, blends in with this latest task. Malamas, whose nine-album recording career over 15 years has covered diverse styles, from rock-tinged balladry to full-on Greek laiko (popular), most of it with the songwriter’s distinctive personal touch, appears to have trodden deeper into rock territory for his upcoming album. «To Adeio Domatio» was arranged by Babis Papadopoulos, a former electric guitarist of the now-defunct Thessaloniki rock group Trypes, who was chiefly responsible for the «rockier» sound of Malamas colleague and friend Thanassis Papaconstantinou on his more recent albums. As for the live dates, interested parties should seek to make advance bookings for their places. For years now, Malamas, a low-key yet spellbinding stage performer whose strength lies in the authenticity of his work and delivery, has packed venues time after time. The latest series is unlikely to be an exception. Stelios Vamvakaris, a son of the late rebetika legend Markos Vamvakaris, one of the genre’s greatest and most prolific exponents, has been booked for two performances this Thursday and Friday at the An Other Club (Academias & 13 Kiafas, tel 210.330.5056), a recently launched offshoot of one of the capital’s oldest rock ‘n’ roll dungeons, the An Club in downtown Exarchia. The 58-year-old Vamvakaris, one of the first acts to explore the common roots shared by rebetika and the blues, emerged playing bouzouki alongside key rebetika figures including Stratos Payioumtzis, Yiannis Papaioannou, Vassilis Tsitsanis, and Vangelis Perpiniadis, who all made Greek music history along with Vamvakaris senior. Besides going on to work with major old-school laiko artists, among them Giorgos Zabetas, Keti Grey, and Vicky Moscholiou, Stelios Vamvakaris has also written hits for top-selling acts including George Dalaras, and released a considerable number of albums of his own. Just days ago, Cactus publishers released a book on the life of Markos Vamvakaris, «O Aghios Mangas,» based on the recollections of Stelios Vamvakaris. For his two upcoming shows, Vamvakaris will present a rock-inflected repertoire comprising original material, as well as songs by his father and other Greek songwriting greats.

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