February 27, 2019
ASTORIA – The good old days came back to life at the musical evening presented at the Kefalonian Society of America “Kefalos” in Astoria on February 24. The “Rebetiko” group, which has become an institution, played unforgettable melodies of authentic rebetiko music. The crowd was dancing and singing for more than four hours in the hall of the Kefalonian Society. Among those present for the event was Consul General of Cyprus Alexis Phedonos-Vadet.
Vocalist Rena Kapareliotis opened the show. She is a mechanical engineer by profession, but her great love is for music. She told The National Herald that she is very happy to be part of this musical group created almost a year ago by Damian Dudu.
“I admire him especially because, although he was born in Romania, he lived in Greece from a young age, and fell in love with Greek songs and Greek culture. In Greece, he worked with great names and then came here, gathered some talents of the Greek community and managed to ‘live’ the real rebetiko song tradition. I feel it is a great honor that I am also in this group.”
Her husband Kostas Paliogiannis started ten years ago with Hellenic Voices of Long Island. And once more, once a week, he and his wife welcome the band to their home to rehearse. He now belongs to “Rebetiko” and feels very happy about it. Mr. Paliogiannis has been living in America for 40 years, and as people tell me in the past, people were coming out. But there were more venues, he said, “Today, life is different. The venues cannot bear the costs, they close. The people also resented the cost, taxes, and they suffer. They cannot spend like they used to. Young people do not come as much. Somewhere we lose, I do not know why.”
The lawyer of the company is vocalist Aggeliki Psoni. “We are performing together for almost a year now as a group and I think the people love us. Rebetiko is back in fashion and this is what helps bring in younger people. Besides, it is revolutionary music and attracts younger generations. I’ve been in America for ten years; it’s hard to keep in touch with Greece but music helps,” she told TNH.
Guitarist Nicholas Mandoukos loved music as a young man as his father played drums. Later, he joined the historic Trio Bel Canto. “People are having fun. They like the authentic old rebetika and come to hear us play. We have a nice team. All the musicians are great.”
Elli Tsachtani, studying classical music, has been playing flute for 10 years and has been singing since age 18. Born in Thessaloniki, she came to America for her studies. She has three Bachelor of Arts degrees and one graduate degree in the flute.
“We have a very interesting group, there is love among the members and a team spirit and I believe this has led us to create this band. We are all volunteers, we all work elsewhere but we come here for what we love, music. People are enjoying it. I believe that this type of music is missing, especially for the Greeks living abroad. This also creates a sense of community and is certainly therapeutic.”
Leonidas Eracleous, the youngest member of the group, began playing bouzouki at age eight. He noted that musicians in Greece must bring the rebetiko to the youth so they too can fall in love with it. “The young musicians of Greece should play rebetiko music to regenerate this kind of music. Our group becomes stronger as time passes, we have played several times and we are comfortable with each other.”
Consul General of Cyprus Alexis Phedonos-Vadet was called to the microphone to say a few words to the guests. He also referred to his beloved team, Anorthosis Famagusta. “Tonight in addition to Kefalonians, we have Chiotes, Pontians, and Cypriots, a nice mix of Hellenism. I am half from Famagusta, but I was born and raised in Nicosia. In football, I support the Famagusta team in Anorthosis, where, a few years ago, Olympiacos also eliminated from the Champions League. I apologize if there are Olympiacos fans here, but the Panathinaikos fans were very happy with us.”