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Greek folk music has had such a wide variety of historical, geographical and social influences that it is difficult to precisely define. It can, however, be characterized generally as a mix of Eastern and Western music. In the 1960's and 1970's, increasing globalization brought pop and rock music to the East, and Greek musicians began to play more electric and rock instruments. Greek folk musician and Seattle resident Christos Govetas believes that as younger generations are drawn to more modern tunes and older musicians die off, the traditional repertoire will gradually become lost. To preserve the repertoire, Christos Govetas and others have recently made efforts to perform and document traditional Greek music.
Christos is a native of Prote, a Greek Macedonian town with a rich tradition of folk music. As a young man, Christos was also heavily influenced by popular music from the West. He played guitar and emulated Bob Dylan, who he says seemed "exotic". In the late 1970's, Christos joined other family members in the United States, settling in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Soon, Christos found that he missed the music and traditions of his village, so he began the process of learning to play Greek instruments by imitating what he heard on recordings. During return trips to Greece he actively sought out learning opportunities with traditional musicians. Over the years, he and his wife, Ruth Hunter, have dedicated themselves to preserving and performing traditional Greek music and have a large collection of instruments and recordings stretching back to the 1920's.
In 1997, Christos and Ruth moved to Washington State and have been deeply involved in bringing Greek folk music to Greek and folkdance communities in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the United States. Christos was recently invited to return to Prote to perform at his hometown's annual festival- an opportunity that he considered a great privilege.
Christos and Ruth are also integral members of a traditional five-piece Greek folk band known as Pangeo, in which Christos plays the clarinet, Ruth plays the accordion, and both also perform as vocalists.
In 2000, Pangeo was selected for Jack Straw's Artist Support Program. They used this opportunity to record and produce a CD at the Jack Straw studios entitled Northern Borders, featuring the music of Greek Macedonia and Epiros. The CD will be a resource for Greek dance groups in the United States, and will help to disseminate and preserve the cultural heritage of Greek folk music.
You can email Christos and Ruth at Zournadjis@earthlink.net
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