Special/Signature Issues » 2014 Folk Festival

Kostas Fetfatsidis and Evan Karapanagiotides



Style: Pontic Greek

Saturday: 12:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., Richmond Times-Dispatch/Richmond.com Stage.
Sunday: 2 p.m., Richmond Times-Dispatch/Richmond.com Stage.

Ask any expat musician: There's real love that goes into playing music from your homeland. It isn't simply nostalgia beneath the melodies.

Kostas Fetfatsidis and Evan Karapanagiotides are young Greek-American musicians — one from Florida and the other from Philadelphia (there's a huge Greek population in Upper Darby), respectively. They're keeping alive centuries-old music from the villages of northeastern Greece, specifically from the Pontic border region near the Black Sea. Both men are veteran musicians who've played in the Philly group Seizmos, which blends traditional and modern Greek sounds.

"The Pontic region was exchanged back and forth between Greece and Turkey," says Blaine Waide, programming manager for the National Council for Traditional Arts. "Musically you're going to hear a lot of things associated with Turkey and the Near East. It's very haunting and moving music."

Times may be tough in Greece, but that's all the more reason that nostalgic music in America's Greek diaspora communities is important to preserve. "We're hoping the Greek communities in and around Richmond will come out," Waide says. "As Evan has noted, this music reconnects members of the diaspora community with home and eases their fears and anxieties, sort of a counterpoint to the news."

In Richmond, Kostas will be playing tulum, a bagpipe associated with lonely shepherds in the old country, as well as kemenche, a Pontic lyra, while Evan plays kemenche and daouli (percussion), and sings in the Laiko style.

"Listening to them is like picking up a seashell washed up on the coast of Asia Minor and, putting it to your ear, hearing a feral dance piece played on lyre and drum from hundreds of years ago," says Folk Fest programming committee member Chris King. He's a Grammy-winning sound archivist whose recent musical journey to Greece was documented by The New York Times. "When they pull out the bagpipe, you are transported to the oracle of Delphi. Prepare for visions."

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