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.
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.AkritasFROM PLAYING BALL TO BOUZOUKIFrom 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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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…
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….
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.