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Thursday, 21 August 2014

George Kontrafouris (Γιώργος Κοντραφούρης); Jazz; Blues; Kanella kai Garyfallo (Κανέλλα και Γαρύφαλλο), Vitsa, Zagori.

I heard George Kontrafouris' Little Daddy's Blues in an outstanding restaurant at Vitsa (Kanella kai Garyfallo).

I thought at first it was a Jimmy Smith album because of the Hammond organ. It's on my wish list now. Superb jazz to accompany a delicious mushroom dish. Thanks Vassili! (Βασίλης Κατσούπας).

YouTube 1 The Ruler

YouTube 2 The Shuffle of Changes

Kostas Karapanos (Κώστας Καραπάνος), Thomas Haligiannis (ΘΩΜΑΣ ΧΑΛΙΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ), Fotis Papazikos, Tasos Daflos: Takimi, Field Recording with Chris King, Vitsa, Zagori.

Chris King recording some beautiful acoustic Epirot music of Zagori and Pogoni for a CD, played by "Takimi". An extraordinary field recording; an entirely different experience to hear the music without microphones and amplification.

Kostas Karapanos on YouTube:

One Κοντούλα η βλάχα


Thomas Haligiannis on YouTube

One:  Epirotica


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Relaxing in Zagori; China and Greece

After the panigyri, time to sit around under the plane tree.

Chris King and I made friends with a Chinese family we'd met in Kipi. Yang is making a comparative study of Ancient Greek Mythology (Homer, Hesiod, the tragedians) and Chinese Calligraphy, representing for him the high points of two great civilizations. His wife is a film critic and expert on the films of Angelopoulos.

The conversation flowed, ranging from Tang Dynasty Poetry and the Ancient Chinese Lyre to Confucius, Calligraphy and the Greek Miroloi.

Confucius said:

"The wise take pleasure in rivers and lakes, the virtuous in mountains"  (or "the wise enjoy water, the humane enjoy mountains").

Yang give me a calligraphy brush and a recording of "Mountain and Flowing Water" played on the Chinese lyre. I gave him a copy of my book "The Ionian Islands and Epirus", and his wife a DVD of Angelopoulos' "Travelling Players". Chris presented him with his CD collection of Epirot music, Five Days Married and Other Laments.

Yang and his wife say they intend to translate parts of my book into Chinese and to have them published, along with some of my poems. They came to inspect my calligraphic scroll of a poem by Zhang Ji.

A normal day in a Zagori village!

Mooring at Night by Maple Bridge

(A version of the poem by Zhang Ji translated, with the help of a Chinese journalist, from a Chinese calligraphy roll bought in Beijing)

The moon is setting; the cawing of crows.
Cold air; frost's coming.

A fisherman's lamp hangs on the boat.
Frosted late Autumn leaves above him,
A stranger fell asleep: sad thoughts.

From Hanshan Temple outside Gusun City
Comes the continuous sound of a bell at midnight,
Reaching the stranger's boat; pitch blackness.

A poem of my own, which I shared with Yang:

A Hermit in Vitsa

Reading Chinese poems
Of Wang Wei, Zhang Ji;
Japanese haiku by the monk Ryokan,
I'm glad to be alone
In my mountain retreat.
They talk to me of the simple life.
I shut my books. Where is my wife?

Confucius and Buddha

And a little Lao Tzu for good measure, from the Tao Te Ching:

"He who has room in him for everything is without prejudice.
To be without prejudice is to be kingly;
To be kingly is to be of heaven;
To be of heaven is to be in Tao".

Grammeno, Epirus: The Last Gig with Amanda, Andrea and Marta; Mariola, Miroloi

Sad to say goodbye today to the wonderful team from the New York Times: Amanda Petrusich, Marta Ferranti and Andrea Frazzetta. We went to meet Napoleon and Michaelis Zoumbas at Grammeno, for Amanda to interview them about the significance of panigyria in Epirus, past and present, and how they've changed in the course of their lifetimes (Napoleon is 84, Michaelis 81).

Marta Ferranti and Andrea Frazzetta,
outstanding photographers from Milan (Marta is originally from Rome)

 Napoleon and Michaelis Zoumbas, Epirot musicians, retired,
beside the statue of Zosimas (one of the Ζωσιμάδες brothers),
a great benefactor who came from Grammeno.

Chris King with the Zoumbas Brothers. My car in the background,
 at the end of a stressful morning in Ioannina, after it had broken down
 and been carried away on the back of a truck for repairs.
It had been over some very rough and challenging roads and stony tracks in search of Epirot musicians and remote mountain village panigyria.

 Amanda and Aphrodite at an earlier interview in Vitsa,
with the great Grigoris Kapsalis.

To get an idea of the kind of interviews we were trying to get, watch this YouTube video, "Mariola".
It's a tragic miroloi we discussed with Napoleon Zoumbas, and which Grigoris Kapsalis played most movingly in Vitsa.

Here's another traditional panigyri version.

Thomas Haligiannis version

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Panigyria in Epirus, 15/16 August; Vristovo and Vitsa.

To Vristovo, round the back of Mount Kasidiaris. Vristovo is a small mountain hamlet near Lavdhani, Pogoni, Epirus:

It was a a nightmare two and a half hour car drive with seven people on board, from Vitsa to Vristovo, via Parakalamos, climbing a high crumbling mountain road round the back of Mount Kasidiaris. We finally managed to make it in one piece to the small mountain hamlet community panigyri at Vristovo (20 residents in the winter) near Lavdhani, Pogoni, Epirus. 

Yiannis Chaldoupis and his musicians were playing acoustic music and they were on their best form; the village cultural committee couldn't have been more hospitable and welcoming, providing excellent kleftiko lamb and refreshments. The villagers were delighted by the visit from the New York Times group, and we were sad to leave so early.

We were late back for the last night of the Vitsa panigyri, but as it went on through the night and until nearly 11am this morning (16th), we had ample time to enjoy the dance music and the infinitely sad final solos and songs (grava and miroloi) played by Grigoris Kapsalis, as well as the farewell procession up the kalderimi from the mesochori or plateia.

Amanda Petrusich (left)

 Grigoris Kapsalis

Grigoris Kapsalis; Kostas Karapanos on violin

Thomas Haligiannis leads the procession