It was after adolescence that my love for the rebetika joints began. For many years, day after day, dawn would find me at those places. Again, for love, again, for all that I couldn’t have.
A musical movement that flourished in Greece in the 1920s and ‘30s, the rebetika were the songs of the refugees from Asia Minor, who had newly settled in the shantytowns of Athens and Piraeus. With rhythms and styles of Greek, Arab, Turkish, and Jewish influences, the rebetika told of the hardships of forced migration, life in the margins of society, underworld characters, the “hashish-smokers” and outlaws. Despite their origin and subject-matters, the songs quickly gained popularity and were eventually performed in the expensive nightclubs of that time, turning some of their songwriters into stars. Similar to fado, flamenco, and the American blues, the rebetika carried words and melodies of human struggle, and especially after the Second World War, to the Greeks, they became a symbol of resistance, resilience, and perseverance.
For one night only, the preeminent wild-child of the Greek stage, Lena Kitsopoulou, and her band of traditional rebetika musicians from Greece, will revive the backstreets of Athens and Piraeus in Joe’s Pub!