“Lovers of Rebetika,” a new podcast series launched by longtime fan, musician and events producer Con Kalamaras, delves into the world of one of Greece’s most culturally important musical genres.
Often called the “Greek blues,” rebetiko grew out of a specific urban subculture in the early 20th century and reflected the harsh realities of an oppressed societal group’s lifestyle.
Rebetiko is storytelling including love, loss, drugs and heart-breaking refugee tales. Rebetiko has always been the music of the poor and the dispossessed, combining different musical styles and with lyrics describing the joy, sorrow and difficulties of everyday life.
“This podcast series is aimed for people who are new to this genre and a little curious,” Kalamaras tells The Pappas Post. “My approach is more conversational and informal. I didn’t want to bombard people with academic speech but instead keep it short and sweet with some examples of songs.”
The Melbourne native says the aim of his podcast is for non-Greeks and Greeks alike to learn about an important period in Greece’s musical history.
Episodes are released weekly with Kalamaras maintaining a “casual, conversational” tone while keeping each installment short and concise — typically between 15 and 20 minutes.
Kalamaras is a longtime musician and events producer with a decades-long track record in Australia. His work portfolio includes serving as co-founder and artistic director of the Melbourne Rebetiko Festival, as well as co-director of Greek Fringe, an international movement that aims to expose Greece’s arts scene and promote diasporic art across various forms of media.
The music enthusiast also organizes a weekly Rebetiko Jam which invites musicians of all ages and skillsets to meet, perform and learn about the genre with local teacher Nikos Kapralos at Triakosia, a local restaurant in Melbourne.
“The weekly jam has been instrumental in delivering real tangible results in engaging with second and third-generation Greeks in Melbourne,” Kalamaras says. “It continues to grow with the youngest participants being eight years old and the oldest in their sixties.”
Kalamras says his podcast was a logical extension of his rebetiko efforts in his hometown and his overall mission to educate people about the genre.
“Lovers of Rebetika” is available on mainstream platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Amazon Podcasts. Episodes are released every Friday (Melbourne time). Click here for more information.
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