Thursday, September 22, 2016

Two Follow-up Videos of the Musicians at the Greek Festival.


Rajan took these two videos at the Greek Festival, and they really capture the music. But for some reason I can't get the sound to work on this blog. Any suggestions?

Meanwhile, they do play on Facebook, if you want to go to my Facebook Timeline HERE.

 Happy listening!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Sacramento Greek Festival and a Master Musician - Opa!


Those of you who visit my blog often know how much I love travel and other cultures, whether  I physically travel to another country, vicariously travel through books or go to local multicultural events. The Sacramento Greek Festival on Labor Day week-end is one such event. I always call it my "free trip to Greece." Above, you can see some of the displays of Greek costumes. This is probably the closest I will get to Greece, but I've always been charmed by it ever since reading and seeing the movie, Zorba. What I am most pulled by is the music. It's so haunting. It lingers in your mind afterwards. Those minor notes . . .

At the Greek Festival,
 there is also an agora (marketplace) where you can shop for anything from imported clothing, jewelry, art, ceramics, etc. And a little garden shop.

The food is also delicious. (See how contented these diners look?) There are also Greek cooking lessons. Wine and beer 
are also available, as well. (Where else can you get an intriguing retsina--that resin-flavored wine I really enjoy) than at the festival? And displays are set up to celebrate Greece's history.
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A big event each year is when the noted artist, Greg Kondos, shows up. To support the event,  Kondos usually donates prints to the Festival to sell; those who buy one can get his autograph. We missed seeing him this year, but we have two  autographed prints from other years that have pride of place in our home. 

An important feature of the festival is the performance by young people of traditional greek dances--by age group, from elementary school age, middle school, high school, and finally the college group that performs late in the evening, choreographing their own special performance at a facsimile of a Taverna. Unfortunately we didn't stay for this part of the program, as we had to leave early the next morning for a trip we were taking. And pictures we took at earlier festivals print -- digital ones-- got accidentally erase (evil computer problems.) But we have more or less watched a whole generation grow up, advancing from group to group. (We've gone to the festival for about 32 years!)

A live band plays later in the evening, and between sets, Demetre Paraskevas, the DJ and host of the evening ,usually plays taped music while people get out on the dance floor and circle dance, if they know how. If they don't, as the evening wears on, Demetre gives free dance lessons. You can go to the Greek Festival site to see and hear more HERE

But now I'm coming to the real treat for us this year--a concert by two musicians, one playing the bouzouki, (a Greek stringed instrument that looks somewhat like the Portuguese guitar I've mentioned in earlier posts about Fado) and the other playing an acoustic guitar. Both instruments blend so beautifully.

I've always loved acoustic guitar, but the bouzouki just swept me away, and Rajan as well. We felt so lucky to have come early! The bouzouki player's name is Orestis Koletsos, and he records with his trio, HOLAX. Last Friday he explained to the audience that the bouzouki expresses the soul of the Greek people. I can believe it. There was so much fire, excitement, sadness, happiness, conveyed by turns on this marvelous instrument. I wish I could share the sounds of it right here on the post. The best I can do is send you to his website HERE  His trio also includes a violinist. The three instruments together just take you to a different world, and the guitarist, in addition to playing so beautifully, is a fine vocalist as well. You can hear some of their songs on YouTube HERE and HERE. You can also follow Orestis on Facebook HERE.

Check out these sites, including the Greek Festival. I'll close with the one Greek word I know--Opa--which means, I've been told, a great many things. So that, frankly, I'm still not sure what it means. If  you can find out, please let me know.

How about you? Are you smitten by travel? Have you always wanted to go to Greece? What is your favorite Greek novel or movie?