Portraying a rugged land’s gentler side

Despite the unorthodox nature of his work, Loudovikos ton Anogion, a talented balladeer who has crafted and offered a gentler, less familiar side of Cretan – or Cretan-inspired – music, has drawn considerable admiration from both colleagues and listeners for his efforts over the past couple of decades. The musician, who grew up in rural Crete and moved to Athens to study and work but nowadays spends most of his time on his native island, will be back in the capital for three performances at the An Other Club (Academias & 13 Kiafas, tel 210-330.5056) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. An essential part of this act’s work is his natural ability in free-flowing, mostly nostalgic storytelling, both with and without the music. On stage, Loudovikos ton Anogion likes to precede his songs with stories before delivering the music to complement what he has said. This approach, Loudovikos nowadays admits, emerged from the artist’s fear of not being able to rely entirely on his music at early performances. «The convergence of words and song, directly connected, greatly helps the listener follow what you’re trying to say. I began doing that out of insecurity because, without possessing any musical experience, I didn’t know whether the songs, alone, would be accepted,» Loudovikos notes in his website’s biography. «So, I began telling stories about Crete and would then play a song that complemented the story. I still do this up to this very day,» he adds. According to the man himself, Loudovikos, who was born in the mountainous Cretan village of Anogia, experienced his first sighting of the sea only at the age of 11. His childhood days spent roaming his rural homeland’s mountain range figure prominently in his music. Later in his life, after shifting to Athens to study economics, a faculty that he never applied to real life, the new musician would base his performances on his memory and understanding of Crete – from a distance. A regular performer at Sirius, a club launched by the late Manos Hadjidakis in the late 1980s as part of the composer’s effort to restore authenticity in Greek music, the still-emerging Loudovikos ton Anogion would play short sets, no more than 20 minutes long, as the opening act. «During those few minutes, I had to convey the Crete not known to Athenians. People in Athens knew Crete via the lyra [the island’s signature instrument], in a way, I’d say, that was kind of funny…» Loudovikos says, referring to the folkloric perception of Crete, of boisterous music and jumbo moustaches. «Led by a belief in presenting the island’s less visible aspects, I went in a totally different direction,» adds the artist, whose frail-sounding material features his own delicately played mandolin, in place of the usually more forceful lyra. Loudovikos, whose music was preceded by artistic activity in another field, painting – he often sold work to finance trips to major European cities – regularly cites a meeting with Hadjidakis back in 1979, six years ahead of the Cretan’s debut album, as the reason for his eventual turn to songwriting. Loudovikos recalls Hadjidakis as a discreet yet perceptive figure with an ability to sense untapped natural ability in others. After being told «You can write songs» by the master composer, Loudovikos ton Anogion, in his own words, acquired the needed audacity to make an effort at «doing what I’ve been doing until now, whatever it may be.»

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