Fringe comes to the center

Judging by its bookings for the next few weeks, one of the capital’s more reliable venues for worthwhile performances in the past couple of years, the Fones club, a small place that focuses its activity on fringe artists, appears ready to repeat the trend this winter season. Some of the acts lined up to perform include the young, talented, and imaginative local fusion band Occasional Dream; acclaimed folk artist Christos Tsiamoulis; as well as Isidoros Papadamou, a former member of rebetika surrealists Himerini Kolymvites. A seven-member ensemble, the Athens-based group Occasional Dream has been patiently ploughing the local club circuit since initially emerging as a trio back in 1993. They have also made the occasional expedition abroad, including a performance at Rome’s Biennale for Young Artists two years ago, and last year’s European Youth Festival in Ankara. The act, which is scheduled to perform two shows on October 19 and 20, as well as a third on November 15, released its self-titled debut album earlier this year on the high-caliber local label, Lyra Records. It highlights the band’s penchant for effective fusion of various influences, including rock, jazz, and Eastern modes. In the ensemble are some of the country’s more gifted and sought-after young musicians, among them multi-instrumentalist Dimitris Mikelis who, in recent years, has performed with several heavyweight acts, including Socrates Malamas and Melina Kana. Fellow band mate Haris Lambrakis on the ney, an Eastern wind instrument, is also a permanent member of vocalist Savina Yiannatou’s superb band, Primavera en Salonico. Acclaimed folk artist Christos Tsiamoulis, who has focused most of his activity on Eastern-inclined material since emerging back in the mid-1980s, is also booked for two nights, on November 2 and 3. Tsiamoulis, who will be presenting a repertoire to include both new material and traditional Greek songs, recently released an excellent album, Where Nostalgia Hurts, with Turkish instrumentalist Kh’Alil Karadouman, a master of the zither. For his performances at the Fones club, Tsiamoulis, a multi-instrumentalist who will be playing both wind and stringed instruments – including the ney, oud and lauto – will be backed up by a skilled band that includes Socrates Sinopoulos on the politiki lyra. Isidoros Papadamou, who cofounded the rebetika surrealists Himerini Kolymvites with the cult group’s frontman and main songwriter Argyris Bakirtzis, and is nowadays pursuing a solo career, will descend upon Athens from his home on the outskirts of Thessaloniki for two performances, on November 23 and 24. Joining Papadamou will be his two children, Anastasia and Andreas Papadamou, who are part of the act, as well as former band mate, Himerini Kolymvites’s guitarist Giorgos Tamkadjoglou. Papadamou, whose style remains true to old rebetika and laika (popular) styles, while also imbuing the music with an elusive personal touch that is highlighted by a distinctive vocal delivery, has released three albums to date. He released 1994’s solo debut, Den S’echei Arnithei, prior to his departure from Himerini Kolymvites before following up the effort with Molis Vradiasei and last year’s Tou Diavolou ta Lychnaria. A former high school teacher who nowadays makes his living as a craftsman of stringed instruments, Papadamou is as unconventional as they come, as was highlighted by his marketing policy, or lack of one, for his last album. A home recording, Papadamou decided to keep Tou Diavolou ta Lychnaria out of music stores, opting instead to give it away free of charge. At the time, the artist had backed his stance by saying that his aim was to target only truly interested listeners as a form of protest, or expression of disgust, against what he views as the prevailing vulgar state of contemporary Greek music, and the music industry as a whole. The album, which draws from old rebetika and laika songs and steers clear of his former band’s tendency to splash a wayward jazz feel over laika foundations, is definitely worth a listen. It should be available at the shows. Other acts on the club’s agenda in coming weeks include accomplished cellist Nikos Veliotis, a member of the Orchestra of Colors, who will play an improvised set accompanied by a fellow cellist Giorgos Kaloudis on November 18; Pogoni Polyphonic, a traditional ensemble from Epirus in the country’s northwest on November 9 and 10; and Indian tablas player Shankar Lal, a regular performer at the club, accompanied by local collaborators, on November 16 and 17. DRY CARGO

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