INSIDE THE BUMMER TENT Oct 11, 2002
Maybe the real difference in hearing this incredible music sitting outside the tiny chapel of Agia Fekla on the pinnacle of a barren hill in Greece, miles from the nearest village, is the language. Well, of course the music itself is different. Traditional folk songs heavily infused with the influence of centuries of Ottoman/Turkish rule and the more recent rembetika songs of the disenfanchised immigrants from the wars in Asia Minor.
But aside from the differences in melodic or rhythmic vocabulary, the emotions, ideas and aspirations implied in this local evening of celebration are universal. Once you get through the haze of the language and/or cultural barrier it all seems so simple.
As we sat listening to the bouzouki and violin playing their wonderfully ornamented non-western scales, I couldn't help but think of all the weddings and birthdays and holiday celebrations one attends in the Lehigh Valley. We have all probably listened and danced to everything from "String of Pearls" to "Chain of Fools" and most likely with the "Beer Barrel Polka" and the "Macarena" thrown into the mix. Very different to be sure, but all still drawing on that same wellspring of universal feelings. The sense of communion and celebration in life were there.
An interesting addition to this very rural traditional feast was the appearance of a Greek musical celebrity. He was a young popular rock star who was raised in the area and was visiting for a few days. We had heard previously from our local friends that he was in town and that they would introduce us if the occasion arose.
Well, one afternoon sitting at a little café with our friends he came walking by and we got to chat a bit. He certainly looked the part of the standard cool rock musician. He was a genuinely friendly guy and we talked about the music scene in Greece and in the States, exchanged addresses and said goodbye.
Well a day or two later after an exilarating winding mountain drive and then a mile long steep walk to the isolated church of Agia Fekla, I was intrigued to see our young friend sitting there singing along with everyone else at the stone dinner tables.
Everyone knew all the songs played, unamplified, by a group of elder musicians.
Hang On Sloopy!!
"A Lehigh Valley Christmas - 2002" CDs are in and the concert is in 65 days.
Hanging Out and About
Hey, we were away .
Craig Thatcher and James Supra have started sessions for their new duo CD due out later this year.
If you don't know of Rembetika (Rebetika or various other spellings) and tend to like folk, blues or "songs of the downtrodden," you should check out this very deep and musically important genre from Greece. It is one the most complete and succinctly developed forms in any culture. Lots of info on the web.
Inside the Bummer Tent - check it out First Friday of every month or past articles on-line at www.bummertent.com.