Rebetiko > Hydra Conferences > 2008 > Saturday
Old panorama of Hydra, thanks to the Hippocampos Hotel for this!


I woke up in time for breakfast, and decided to have a lie-in instead. The morning session was supposed to start at ten, and I was there in plenty of time, so I got to sit around waiting until 10:50.

Nikos Politis
Nikos Politis

The first session of the day was "The Bouzouki: An approach to the history of the instrument and its evolution over the centuries", presented by Nikos Politis of Athens. The history of the long-necked lute family of instruments is a long one, made obscure because few examples of the actual instruments have survived. Not only that, but there is considerable, sometimes acrimonious, argument amongst various groups of people who try to claim they have had bouzoukis for longer than anyone else.

Before the next item, Ed Emery announced that the big Saturday night concert would not feature Kyriakos Gouventas this year. Apparently, Constantinos Anastopoulos, the mayor of Hydra, was trying to pay the musicians only half of the money immediately, and half in two months time. I do not blame Kyriakos for not trusting a promise from this man. Instead, we would be entertained by those members of the Famous SOAS Rebetiko Orchestra that were present on the island. The people who find the Douskos Restaurant too expensive took the opportunity to moan about that for a while before we went on. Several of them determined to eat elsewhere first, I believe.

Tony Klein with his bouzouki
Tony Klein with his bouzouki

The second session was given by Tony Klein, who lives in Sweden, and was called "Four tunes, three tunings - a bouzouki player in New York in 1929". I thought this was going to be about Ioannis Halikias, who was also known as Jack Gregory, and made some of the most influential bouzouki recordings ever, while living in New York. But no! It was about Manolis Karapiperis, the mysterious man from Patmos who recorded in 1929, three years before Halikias, and then vanished into oblivion. Tony's talk was illustrated with both recordings and demonstrations on his super Raptakis trichordo. (I sometimes joke about stealing Tony's Raptakis, but it is a joke, honestly!) The description of the different bouzouki tunings, and the splendid performance of Markos Vamvakaris's "Skyla m'ekanes kai horisa", will be appreciated by those who buy the recordings, I am sure.

Then it was lunchtime, and I went to the harbour front, set up my Asus, and had a shrimp salad and a beer. The "shrimps" were bigger than the things that are called "king prawns" in England, and utterly delicious. You will know how good they were when I tell you that I put my computer away to concentrate on them.

Eleftheria Koxeila and Jason Melissinos, who was there to translate...
Eleftheria Koxeila

I was back in time for the next item, featuring Eleftheria Koxeila from Spetses. Eleftheria is a singer, and quite famous. The idea was that, as she was going to speak in Greek, Jason Melissinos would translate for her. Unfortunately, Eleftheria had no intention of stopping once she had started, to allow Jason to translate a few sentences before she went on. She was unstoppable. At the end, Jason gave us a quick summary of her twenty minute tour-de-force.

Manolis Hadzidakis with his baglama
Manolis Hadzidakis with his baglama

The next item was a talk about the baglama by Manolis Hadzidakis, who plays in the Famous SOAS Rebetiko Orchestra. It was an interesting talk, and his demonstration of the zeibekiko rhythms was helpful to those who, like me, want to play the baglama. During the talk, to prove we were on Hydra on a Saturday, a power cut began. Then my Edirol decided to have low batteries, so I switched to the Archos.

As the power cut continued, Ed Emery spoke about "Arabo-Islamic and Turkish elements in Greek Zeibekiko dance". I recorded this, but it was a bit too dark to take notes.

Ali Fuat Aydin and Cenk Guray playing sazes.
Ali Fuat Aydin and Cenk Guray

Then we had a mini-concert from Ali Fuat Aydin and Cenk Guray, which was very pleasant. I had been expecting Ali Fuat to talk about "Oral Transmission Techniques in the Kaba Zurna Repertoire of Anatolian Zeybek Music" (Abstract here.) but that part of the programme must have changed.

The afternoon session came to an end, and I rushed off to find a toilet. The power cut was still going, and the café I popped into was pitch dark inside. I suspect I may have used the ladies' toilet. It was incredibly difficult to find the door on the way out, but I set off back to the Ippokampos Hotel, to charge batteries, and have an aperitif. I skipped all but the last two minutes of Jason Melissinos's Karagiozis show.

I set off for the Douskos Restaurant a little early, to get a good seat, and found a table right in front of the stage, occupied by several of my friends, all of whom had decided to partake of the Douskos food. I joined them, and set about positioning a powered microphone on the stage, fixed to one of the pillars with Blu-Tak. The cable was as high as I could get it, and came down to the table, where my recorder was sat. Hardly any dancers could touch it, and none managed to bring it down, fortunately. The recordings are a lot better than in previous years because of this! All the eating, drinking and conversation noises are well in the background, and the music comes through beautifully.

Some members of The Famous SOAS Rebetiko Band getting ready. Two pictures, stitched with AutoStitch.
The band getting ready

The food and wine were good, and the music was excellent, although some important members of the band had returned home earlier in the week. I managed not to drink too much. The post-gig party inside the restaurant was also good, apart from the bit where I tried to sing. Eventually, I got back to my room, made backups of everything, put batteries on to charge, had a nightcap, and slept the sleep of the properly entertained person.

Nikos and Olavir join in.
Nikos and Olavir join in

Old panorama of Hydra, thanks to the Hippocampos Hotel for this!