On 27th of september 2002, Yorgos (George), a 53 year old Greek from Piräus and the son of a rembetika-musician, sits on the stage of the Apollo-Theatre in Ermopoulis, the capital-city of the Cykladic island of Syros. Supported by the two sons of the Godfather of Rembetiko, Markos Vamvakaris, he starts to sing the first lines of "Frangosyriani"(Girl from Syros). Everyone in the hall joins him singing, knowing the lyrics by heart, and everyone enjoys the evening in the newly restorated theatre of Syros.
81 years of Greek history fill the gap between these two dates, and you can feel this history on that evening in Ermopoulis. It is the history of Rembetika, a musical style which appeared in the early twenties of the past century in the poor suburbs of Athens and Thessaloniki. These suburbs were overflooded by refugees of Greek descendance which had to leave Turkey after the defeat of the Greek army in Asia Minor. Here the music of the east mingled with European traditions in the hashish smoke filled cafés to become the "Greek Blues", the Rembetika.
Markos Vamvakaris wrote his first songs about drugs, broken hearts and gangsters in these cafés. He survived several of his musical companions and even his brother, who had ended their lives stoned and without a penny in the backstreets of the shanty-towns. Vamvakaris was still there even when the Greek dictator Metaxa prohibited the "hashish-songs" at the end of the 1930ies and today, Markos Vamvakaris is THE godfather of Rembetika.
The Ermopoulis Concert, on the native island of Markos Vamvakaris is George Dalaras' tribute to the œuvre of the composer and singer Vamvakaris. During three nights, and not by coincidence on Dalaras' 53rd birthday, this double CD was recorded with 28 songs full of emotion and spirit. The public can sing these songs by heart and the Greek people can identify themselves with them.
George Dalaras is one of the greatest Greek stars that filled in the 1980s for several evenings the Olympic stadium in Athens and so his participation as a lead singer is giving a very special touch to this recording. George Dalaras is also responsible for the rediscovery of Rembetika in Greece due to his album "50 Years Rembetika", which was released in 1975 just after the fall of the military regime. This album is one of the best sold albums of George Dalaras and it started a great wave of enthusiasm for the "Greek Blues". George Dalaras has filled well known concerthalls all over the world and his albums released on Tropical Music have sold a total amount of over 70.000 units.
All lyrics and linernotes of the album Tribute to Vamvakaris have been translated from Greek into English and are included in the booklet of the double-CD. Total playing time is 86 minutes.
More Information on George Dalaras
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