Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Greece from a distance: Michalis Tzouganakis in Mainz/Germany

(Der Bericht in deutscher Sprache ist hier zu finden!)

On Sunday, November 15th, the phantastic lute player Michalis Tzouganakis from Crete came to my hometown Mainz to give a concert during his "The Spirit of Crete" tour through Germany and the Netherlands. On his tour, he had been to Duesseldorf and Munich before this gig in Mainz.

I never had heard of him before, didn't know his music, but - after some research in the internet - decided to go to his concert. Tickets were 24 Euro in Mainz. Maybe about 200-250 people showed up for the concert, but quite a few seats remained empty. And, not too many greek people around. Nevertheless, it was a phantastic night!

Michalis is an incredibly fast lute player and an extraordinary singer. He was accompanied by four superb fellow musician.
Kostas Sindridis (keyboards), Theodoros Kouelis (bass) und Grigoris Sindridis (drums/percussion). The lyra- and mandoline player Giorgos Skordalos is a class on its own.

I really was surprised by the very pleasant volume in which he delivered his soulful and expressive songs. I have experienced ear-smashing concerts on Samos when local bands were playing.

In the first half of the concert, Michalis sang more slow and emotional songs. After the break, he opened with one of his most famous songs, "Pali, Pali". And the audience went crazy immediately.

Incredibly fast runs on the fingerboard of the lute will end abruptly, then unexpectedly are continued starting in higher
or the highest layers. In between, over and over again, he throws in some syncopated or offbeat attacks on the lute. His music is very rhythm oriented and often abruptly changing.

Michalis sings and handles his instrument with full body use on stage and very often shakes his black lion's mane (yes, he's a lion, born on the 31st of July!) That he has to work hard and persevering on his lute and himself could well be a life issue.

After the concert I came to know four dedicated fans of him, who travel to follow him and try to participate in most of his concerts.

And whom did I meet - mediated by a really big fan from Leverkusen - very late at night in front of the City Hilton hotel in Mainz? Sitting there with two of his tour companions smoking cigarettes? That was a good opportunity to talk with Michalis in a small group.

Michalis Tsouganakis will appear in one more concert in Germany: on Saturday, November 21st, in Berlin, Jazz-Club Quasimodo, 10:00 pm

I asked him if he had played on Samos already, but he denied. He has been to many islands, but not to Samos. Maybe a good idea to invite him in the summer season to Samos, e.g. during the Samos Wine Festival in Samos-town.

Well, how does his music sounds like? On the internet video platforms (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo) videos from his concerts have already been published by fans.

Here are some examples:

From a Greek TV show:

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Greece:

Concert in Frankfurt in the "Fabrik" in May 2009

Concert in Düsseldorf during his tour through Germany in November 2009

Concert in Mainz during his tour through Germany in November 2009

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Germany 2009 on Vimeo.

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Germany 2009 on Vimeo.

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Germany 2009 on Vimeo.