Questions for Peristeris?

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Tiffany D

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Jun 24, 2007, 3:59:50 PM6/24/07
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Geia sas,

Tomorrow, my friend Spiros is going to call the son of Spiros
Peristeris. Assuming he's still living (he'd be about 75 or so),
there's a very strong possibility that I might be speaking with him
some time this week. Do any of you have questions that you'd like me
to ask him other than what instrument his father played, and if it was
just the bouzouki, how he played it? I just figured I'd ask, since
some of you are more knowledgible on Peristeris than I.

Thanks,
Tiffanitsa

AKRITAS

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Jun 24, 2007, 4:42:39 PM6/24/07
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I am reading the autobiography of Yiannis Papaioannou who says about Peristeris:
"Someone heard me playing "Phaliriotissa" and took me to "ODEON" [studios] to the old man Matsa [owner of the studio] , where the maestro who was in charge of everything was Spyros Peristeris.  He played ten instruments and all of them well!  He was a great musician, number one."
 
Papaioannou goes on to say how he recorded "Phaliriotissa" (his first recording) with himself, Peristeris, and Konstantinides (called "Makaronas") playing and how it was a big, big hit.
 
Papaioannou writes over and over again that Peristeris "did commando" at ODEON, and of the great respect he had for him.
 
In another place, he writes:
"All my music before the war was recorded at ODEON... my biggest hits... most of them.  Matsas didn't let anyone get away from the company easily.  Matsas was a jew.  He died recently [this was writtten in 1971].  He stayed at my house many times, here in Tsitsifies, during the Occupation, to escape from the Germans.  My mother would hide him.  Peristeris would also hide him, at risk of his life.  For this reason, Matsas always kept Peristeris by his side."
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
This is a great bookNtompra kai Starata,  the autobiography of Giannis Papaioannou.  120 pages handwritten by Papioannou, given to Kostas Hatzidoulis on 1-14-71, who edited it and filled in many details afterwards by 34 hours of taped interviews with Papaioannou.  It is written in Papaioannou's own words in a breezy conversational style full of slang... Lots of good stuff!
 
Akritas
 
 

Mr. Narghile

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Jun 24, 2007, 4:57:36 PM6/24/07
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thanks for that info Akritas! Let us know if you fine anything else
on the subject, or other interesting items (Markos anecdotes?).
Tiffany, have your friend ask about his guitar playing, like you said
and also how Peristeris came to record Markos. Maybe also why did he
play bouzouki on so many of Markos' songs instead of Markos himself.
good luck!

Dave

Tiffany D

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Jun 24, 2007, 5:33:23 PM6/24/07
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Thanks Dave for the questions. I'l be sure to ask (or to have Spiros)
ask him. I'm curious about all of that as well, particularly about
Peristeris playing bouzouki so much. As to what you gave us Akritas,
it was wonderful. Thank you! I love reading translations of what the
rebetes and their contemporaries wrote.

AKRITAS

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Jun 24, 2007, 10:37:14 PM6/24/07
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Starting from the beginning, here's how Papaioannou got into bouzouki...
I can do some more translating, bit by bit if people want to read more...
[...] indicates where I have cut out some lines but the rest is a direct translation.
Akritas
 
 
FROM PLAYING BALL TO BOUZOUKI
 
From a young boy I had a passion for sports and for music, and that’s when I started to play ball.  I was a good goalie, I could grab the ball with one hand.  For that reason, I say that my colleagues are all better than I am:  Markos,  Tsitsanis, all of them.  But none of them are athletes like me, none of them a fisherman like me!  I am an artist at fishing.  I grew up by the sea and my teacher was Zepo, the best fisherman in the world.  Which of them is a better hunter than I am?  None of them!
 
[….]
I wanted  to play ball, the old lady [his mother] didn’t want me to.  Everyday  we were getting into big fights.  Finally I told her that if she wanted me to stop playing ball, then she needed to buy me a mandolin!  She agreed and the next day we went down to Peiraia by that wall where the street car station is, where there were some shacks where instruments were made and she bought me a mandolin.  In our neighborhood was a young girl who played mandolin, named Eleni, and she showed me a few things, the Do-Re-Mi.  In my free time, after my construction job, I played mandolin.  I picked it up really quickly.  I poured all of my passion into music.  After I had learned pretty well, I got a guitar.  After that it was history, I played “hawaii.” [strumming chords???]
 
We formed a nice group, five-six guys, and played kantades in the neighborhood. 
[…] 
Listen then, how I got a bouzouki and became Papaioannou:  One day I was sitting in the taverna, eating.  I was wearing my work clothes.  I heard a record that Halkias had recorded in America.  It was a big hit from America;  on one side there was a solo Minore and on the other a solo zeimbekiko.  As soon as I heard it, I went crazy.  I got up to read the label and saw Halkias’ name.  It said “Yiannis Halkias.”  It was the “Minore tou Teke.”  I went nuts!!  Such a song like will never be produced again in nature.  No one ever wrote another song like that.  That was a symbol, something untouchable by the whole world.
 
In an instant, I changed my mind and told myself I would get a bouzouki.  My mind caught fire, I never got enough of hearing it.   I had heard other records which had come from America but none had made such an impression on me , they were monotonous…  But this record got into my skin. 
[…]
....one day I went down to Peiraia and bought a bouzouki for myself.  I had money, I've already said how I got construction jobs and was doing very well.  I got it and went home.  Who has seen God and not been afraid?  My mother got hold of me right away…”Take it and get out, you bum, you criminal, you cad,” and the rest… “You brought a bouzouki here?” she said, “Get up and get out of here…!”  She kicked me out.  My mother kicked out her son on account of a bouzouki!  You’d have thought it was a murder weapon.  Poor instrument, what you have been through – both you and us… Never mind that today they have made this instrument into a ballerina, just like they have the laika songs.  What to do, then?  I took it to a friend’s house and hid it.  I would go everyday and learn, but secretly and on the fly.  I told the old lady lies that I had sold it.  I would study at my friend’s house.  That instrument pulled me in.  Its an awful hankering to have, for that old piece of wood!
 
In those days, two old guys would come to Tsitsifies and play bouzouki.  Back then, not even Markos had gotten into the business yet.  There were other guys who played bouzouki but they were amateurs.  In Drapetsona a guy named Yiovan Tsaous played – he had an odd type of bouzouki however – and he played in a Turkish style [a la Turk].  I got to know him later.  He played bouzouki from the old days in Turkey.  A good man, a quiet fellow, he played on one of my songs later, in 1938.
 


________________________________________________
Το Avatar του χρήστη Σώτος
 
 

AKRITAS

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Jun 24, 2007, 10:49:03 PM6/24/07
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Some garbage got into that first one.. here it is a little cleaner...
Starting from the beginning, here's how Papaioannou got into bouzouki...
I can do some more translating, bit by bit if people want to read more...
[...] indicates where I have cut out some lines but the rest is a direct translation.
Akritas
 
 
FROM PLAYING BALL TO BOUZOUKI
 
From a young boy I had a passion for sports and for music, and that's when I started to play ball.  I was a good goalie, I could grab the ball with one hand.  For that reason, I say that my colleagues are all better than I am:  Markos,  Tsitsanis, all of them.  But none of them are athletes like me, none of them a fisherman like me!  I am an artist at fishing.  I grew up by the sea and my teacher was Zepo, the best fisherman in the world.  Which of them is a better hunter than I am?  None of them!
 
[.....]
I wanted  to play ball, the old lady [his mother] didn't want me to.  Everyday  we were getting into big fights.  Finally I told her that if she wanted me to stop playing ball, then she needed to buy me a mandolin!  She agreed and the next day we went down to Peiraia by that wall where the street car station is, where there were some shacks where instruments were made and she bought me a mandolin.  In our neighborhood was a young girl who played mandolin, named Eleni, and she showed me a few things, the Do-Re-Mi.  In my free time, after my construction job, I played mandolin.  I picked it up really quickly.  I poured all of my passion into music.  After I had learned pretty well, I got a guitar.  After that it was history, I played "hawaii." [strumming chords???]
 
We formed a nice group, five-six guys, and played kantades in the neighborhood. 
[....] 
Listen then, how I got a bouzouki and became Papaioannou:  One day I was sitting in the taverna, eating.  I was wearing my work clothes.  I heard a record that Halkias had recorded in America.  It was a big hit from America;  on one side there was a solo Minore and on the other a solo zeimbekiko.  As soon as I heard it, I went crazy.  I got up to read the label and saw Halkias' name.  It said "Yiannis Halkias."   It was the "Minore tou Teke."   I went nuts!!  Such a song like will never be produced again in nature.  No one ever wrote another song like that.  That was a symbol, something untouchable by the whole world.
 
In an instant, I changed my mind and told myself I would get a bouzouki.  My mind caught fire, I never got enough of hearing it.   I had heard other records which had come from America but none had made such an impression on me , they were monotonous...  But this record got into my skin. 
[...]
....one day I went down to Peiraia and bought a bouzouki for myself.  I had money, I've already said how I got construction jobs and was doing very well.  I got it and went home.  Who has seen God and not been afraid?  My mother got hold of me right away "Take it and get out, you bum, you criminal, you cad," and the rest... "You brought a bouzouki here?" she said, "Get up and get out of here!"   She kicked me out.  My mother kicked out her son on account of a bouzouki!  You'd have thought it was a murder weapon.  Poor instrument, what you have been through... both you and us! Never mind that today they have made this instrument into a ballerina, just like they have the laika songs.  What to do, then?  I took it to a friend's house and hid it.  I would go everyday and learn, but secretly and on the fly.  I told the old lady lies that I had sold it.  I would study at my friend's house.  That instrument pulled me in.  Its an awful hankering to have, for that old piece of wood!
 
In those days, two old guys would come to Tsitsifies and play bouzouki.  Back then, not even Markos had gotten into the business yet.  There were other guys who played bouzouki but they were amateurs.  In Drapetsona a guy named Yiovan Tsaous played... he had an odd type of bouzouki however... and he played in a Turkish style [a la Turk].  I got to know him later.  He played bouzouki from the old days in Turkey.  A good man, a quiet fellow, he played on one of my songs later, in 1938.
 


________________________________________________
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Tiffany D

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Jun 24, 2007, 11:47:52 PM6/24/07
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Just as he had an addiction for his bouzouki, I have one to hear more
of this wonderful stuff! Wow! This sounds like one of those books I
can just dive into, and I very rarely say that these days. More
please and thank you soooo much!

Smiling,
Tiffanitsa

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AKRITAS

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Jun 25, 2007, 7:06:13 AM6/25/07
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This is a very good book...
 
Sometimes it reads like a transcript of verbal conversation, which I think it is, from the taped interviews the editor did with Papaioannou....
 
Its all Papaionnou's words though... There are some great stories...
 
I will pick a few and translate them from time to time... I think you will enjoy them...
 
Akritas

zorz bate

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Jun 25, 2007, 2:45:48 PM6/25/07
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efcharisto para poly


zorz

tambouras

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Jun 26, 2007, 4:49:51 AM6/26/07
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Hi Akritas & everybody
With reference to Papaioannou's playing of Hawaii (χαβαγιες) :
Just to introduce a fascinating aspect of the musical scene in Greece
of the 20s & 30s - Hawaiian music, played on lap-held acoustic slide
guitars, ie Hawaiian guitars, ukuleles and regular guitars, was a
world phenomenon from the early years of the 20th century, so much so
that in 1916, sales of Hawaiian music on record in the USA outstripped
sales of all other musical 'genres'. This wave swept over Europe too,
Greece included. Akritas, you will have seen that great double-page
photo in the Papaioanou book showing Peristeris' ensemble from the
20s, with Peristeris himself holding a tenor banjo, and with two slide
guitarists, and one or two banjo-mandolins. Those of you who have the
Mortika CD will have seen the photo of Bezos' Hawaiian group 'Ta Aspra
Poulia', where there are 6 guitars, maracas and a National ukulele
(unfortunately the picture in Mortika is very small so you can't see
that it really is a National ukulele, with a resonator).
A lot of Greek Hawaiian records were made at this time. There are at
least 64 songs by, or involving, Bezos in the HMV and Columbia
catalogues of the 1930s. There were several others at this time who
also recorded χαβαγιες. There is one Roza Eskenazi song to be found on
one of Kounadhis Tountas CDs called 'Hira Moderna' - 'A modern
widow'' which uses Hawaiian slide in the refrain.
So there is no doubt that whoever 'Kostis' was/were, Kostas Bezos, who
was definitely involved in most of, if not all, the Kostis recordings,
was, apart from being a satirical newspaper cartoonist and film actor,
very actively involved with Hawaiian style recordings from the same
period as the Kostis songs ie 1930-31, and for several years more. And
that Hawaiian songs, tangos, foxtrots, were a given part of the
musical scene of this time in Greece, often recorded by the very same
professional musicians who recorded what we today call rebetika.

AKRITAS

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Jun 26, 2007, 8:18:45 AM6/26/07
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Thank you Tambouras!
I was wondering what that meant.... couldn't figure it out - thought maybe it meant a style of playing - maybe strumming the guitar like a ukelele...
You have filled in a very interesting historical gap in my understanding - thanks!
I think I will open a separate topic on this book and continue to submit sections in English as time permits... maybe you and others can fill in some of the background details...
What do you think?

tambouras

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Jun 26, 2007, 9:49:49 AM6/26/07
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Good idea! I'll be glad to fill in when I can.
Tambouras

Tiffany D

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Jun 27, 2007, 10:18:51 AM6/27/07
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Just an update. I got a really quick email from Spiros this morning.
He said that he spoke with the son of Peristeris, who's 82-years-old,
and will tell me more at 6 PM (EST). I'll let you all know what
happens. I'm also calling two nursing homes today, one in Canton
Massachusetts and one in Astoria New York, to see what I could see.
*smile* Hopefully, I won't lose my nerve!

Later,
Tiffanitsa

Tiffany D

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Jun 27, 2007, 11:17:38 PM6/27/07
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Well, Spiros spoke with the son of Peristeris today. (I have to ask
Spiros the spelling of his name, since I don't know it.) Both he and
his wife are doing well. Spiros told him about me, and he said that
I'm welcomed to call him. The only thing is that he doesn't know any
English, so I think it'll be better to call him when Spiros comes
over, which will hopefully be soon. So I'll ask my questions then,
and whatever I don't know, he'll translate for me. He was telling me
that he is the kind of man whom you'd call sir, and considering who
his father was, I'm not surprised at all. Spiros also told me that
once, the son of Peristeris walked into his music shop and started
playing one of the pianos. Everyone was in shock because he was such
a good player! But yes, he does exist and he is still living, and
I'll keep you all updated, as usual, once it happens. As for the
nursing homes, I'll try again tomorrow. The Ma one I have to call
again and see if I could find the activities department (or someone
from Greece, which shouldn't be difficult as it's a Hellenic place)
and I have to get the number again for the one in Astoria. I also
found two places near me as well that I'll try to contact, but they're
not specifically Greek, so I'll have to hope they have at least one
person who knows about rebetika on their staf so I can ask about their
clients without that dreaded period of silence or "um, how do I
explain this to someone who's totally out of the loop". Ok, my hands
refuse to type now. Too much bouzouki and baglama playing! lol

Later,
Tiffanitsa

Aydin C.

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Apr 21, 2017, 1:12:25 AM4/21/17
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Hi, I know this is a very old thread, but I hope you can see this message. Assuming Peristeris' son is still alive and you have contact with him, could you ask him if he knows if his father met Jack Halikias in New York? I'm sure they must have ran into each other, but I really don't have any proof.

Thanks,
Aydin C. 

Νίκος Πολίτης

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Apr 22, 2017, 12:01:06 PM4/22/17
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Well, sad news:  Dimitris Peristeris passed away in 2013, his elder brother Arghyris 2011.  Only remaining source now is Spyros junior, Dimitris’ son, with phone no. (Athens) 2108000585.  He is said to keep archive of his fathers documents and things but I tried to reach him under this number in August 2016 with no success.  I was planning to repeat the effort but…. Above information was given to my from Mrs. Peristeris, Arghyris’ widow, August last.

 

I am afraid it is mostly unlikely that Spyros would be aware of some sort of contact between Spyros Peristeris and Jack Halikias and same should hold true for his late father as well…

Aydin C.

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Apr 23, 2017, 5:03:46 AM4/23/17
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Thanks Niko, yeah I doubt he'd know... Do you know anything else about his visit to the states with Politakia? I know he recorded with Tetos Demetriades, I mean if he was in New York I'm sure he couldn't have missed Jack, I just have no proof. 

Νίκος Πολίτης

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Apr 23, 2017, 6:04:17 AM4/23/17
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There is no evidence at all, on what might had happened during “Ta Politakia” short stay in New York in 1935.  As known, Peristeris and some other members of the group had been hired to amuse the 1st class passengers aboard the steamer “King Alexandros” during the Atlantic passage and of course, their stay in NY must had been limited to few days, since steamers are made to travel, not to rest in nice harbours.  So if the recording probably took say two of their days and since the visitors certainly wanted to visit the city itself too, not much time remained really.  One should also not forget that the Athenian high society, to which of course Ta Politakia belonged, regarded Halikias as a semi – criminal and the bouzouki itself was, at this period, a severe threat to the Smyrnaiko school, so most probably they did not give first rank priority to getting to know Jack Halikias….

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Aydin C.

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Apr 24, 2017, 2:17:51 AM4/24/17
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Maybe, but Peristeris did re-record the Minore so he must have had at least some respect for Jack as a musician and he also reluctantly picked up the bouzouki. I'm not so sure all of Ta Politakia felt that way, just look at the songs they recorded. Also, I feel that in retrospect there has been a tendency to draw some more lines than what there always were. Jack and indeed many of the manges did have contacts and even friends that were higher up socially. I mean Jack's business partner and koumparo, Lahanaras (He was the one who payed for Udi Hrant to come to the U.S. and have his eye surgery) was a millionaire. I also feel that there has been a higher level of differentiation placed between the "Piraeus" and "Smyrna" schools than always existed in reality. There were differences, but there seems to be, from all I have seen a lot more crossing of the two than is often acknowledged. Sometimes though, the more I dig the less I care about details, these were people's lives and it's a time that's come and gone. It isn't good for the mind to be stuck in the past and I have a bad habit of it. 

What I'm saying is Peristeris was a smart guy with an eye for and appreciation for talent, if he had appreciation for the likes of Marko and Papaioannou, I don't see why that wouldn't extend to Jack. Plus almost all the visiting Greek musicians visited Jack, so it would be odd for Peristeris to be an exception. Also ironically enough, since Peristeris was recording director for Columbia and used the Georgiades pseudonym on the Victor recordings, it's likely that they were in violation of his contract with Columbia. That means that he's a semi-criminal too!

Νίκος Πολίτης

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Apr 24, 2017, 4:38:30 AM4/24/17
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Well, let us perhaps agree on the point that every person’s life belongs to the person itself and it is very difficult in the 21st century to answer some questions where no written evidence exists. Or else, we could be exchanging posts for days and weeks, which would all be of pure theoretical value only.

Aydin C.

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Apr 25, 2017, 2:09:49 AM4/25/17
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Well said, and let's learn from the past while not idealizing it. I was talking to the nephew of Kalivas and he's telling me everyone forgets that this music belongs to a specific time and feeling and he's right. Too many people forget that now.... I need to call him again, I really like talking to him.
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