Athens Night

Last Friday I attended the first of two consecutive weekend engagements by Gerasimos Andreatos and Christos Papadopoulos at Hamam, a music venue at the site of a former Turkish bath in Athens.

I arrived early enough to meet Andreatos, who’s a distant cousin, outside the club. He’s one of a couple of well-known Greek singers in the family, the other one being Elefteria Arvanitaki.
Hamam is an intimate environment, allowing the audience close contact with the performers on stage, which in this case totaled four.
The tables were occupied mostly by couples or groups of friends.
The show began at 11:00 PM and was scheduled to go until 4:00 AM, typical time for people who are used to partying late into the night.
However, I left after an hour and a half, concerned about public transportation only to approach the nearby station just as the last train was pulling in. I subsequently walked about fifteen blocks to the closest Metro with extended weekend service, making it home by 1:30 AM.
If you’re in Athens you can catch a repeat of the show at the same time and place.
For more information and reservations checkout the Hamam website or its Facebook page.
copyright © 2018 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Music Adventure

I first traveled to Europe fifty years ago. During the four months I lived in Paris I preferred listening to British rock and American soul, tuning into pirate stations such as Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg to hear the Beatles and Rolling Stones.


I also listened to Antoine, Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Michel Poinareff, and Sylvie Vartan to some extent but French vocalists seemed to lack intensity and feeling.

However, passing through Italy I was glad to catch one of those French pop singers, while in Greece I strained to hear Arabic music some distance away.

Over time I tired of rock and desired something different, preferably quieter. I was drawn to Afro pop, rai, fado, and even popular Greek vocalists.

Now I look forward to exploring the choices in Athens and spend too much money buying laika CDs there.

This year I brought back a number of discs by Stelios Bikakis, Giorgos Giannias, Pantelis Pantelidis, and Paschalis Terzis. Plus a couple of surprising purchases: Takim and Zipelia Cress.

I heard a few cuts of  Takim during the few minutes I spent in a store buying a CD by one of the artists already on my list. But it was long enough to realize I definitely liked what I was being exposed to.

I number of young musicians collaborated on this project and the performers are seven men who recorded after a ten year hiatus. The name sounds Turkish and the music has a distinctly eastern flavor.

I was introduced to Zipelia Cress by Vangelis, who is the composer of the music played on this CD. It’s mellow rock inspired by the familiar San Francisco sound. I returned to the store for his autograph but passed up buying a follow-up CD with a harder edge.

I didn’t find everything I looked for this time but I’ll undoubtedly return with a new list in a couple of years.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Book Lover

I was hoping to visit Papasotiriou again, a large bookstore across from the university in Central Athens. Especially the large English-language section on the top floor where I found the latest titles in Greek history, politics, and culture in previous years. But it’s no longer in business.


There are English-language books at Public on Syntagma Square, though nothing resembling the depth of titles stocked by the defunct bookstore. However, it’s a great source for new Greek CDs.

One evening I noticed a bookstore in the neighborhood specializing in dictionaries but it was closed. A few days later I checked it out during business hours and was amazed at what I found. Lexikopoleio sells French, English, Spanish, and Italian books as well as dictionaries. And all titles are sold at the prices charged in their country of origin.

When Odile Brehier rented the space in the wake of the economic meltdown, women passing by frequently asked her if she really wanted to do this. She was undeterred by their skepticism and launched what’s become a successful venture five years ago.

Odile’s father was French and her mother Greek. She was born in the French Congo and has lived most of her life in Athens. Working as a translator is a solitary task. The store allows her an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people.

An event I attended hosted by Lexikopoleio featured young Greek prose writers and the editor who put together a book of their work for French readers. An overflow crowd packed the store and some lingered afterwards for a reception with people chatting with one another both inside and out in the street.

Brehier is a charming and gracious host who enthusiastically greets both old friends and new visitors to her store. She lives and works in Pangrati, or Frog Island, an area defined by two rivers that still flow underground.

I look forward to visiting this neighborhood gem and seeing her again the next time I visit the city.

image & text copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Making Music

On The Banks Of The Tigris directed by Marsha Emerman (Australia/Israel/Iraq) 2015 celebrates the collaborative nature of music composition and performance and its potential for healing.


When the narrator of this documentary, an Iraqi exile living in Australia, searches for the origins of the songs he loved during his childhood, he discovers many were written by Jewish composers, the majority of whom were persuaded or forced to move to Israel with the proviso that they never return to their homeland.

Majid Shakar not only uncovers the hidden heritage of the music but also searches for those intimately involved with it and brings musicians together to perform a concert in London to an appreciative crowd.

The film screens again 14 November 2015 at Harmony Gold in Los Angeles.

For more information contact Arab Film Festival.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

Hot Greek Singer

Kaigome (I’m Burning), the new single by Christos Menidiatis, issued 30 June 2015 by Heaven Music is bound to top the Greek pop music charts.


It follows the 30 March 2015 Heaven Music release of Arage Pou Na Eisai (Wonder Where You Are), another impressive single by Menidiatis.

Evidently he switched record labels this year.

The previous five singles by Hristos Menidiatis were from The Spicy Effect: Girna Xana (Return Again) and Hamos Tha Gini (There’ll Be Bedlam) 2014; Den Pame Kala (We’re Not Going Well) and Kane Doulia Sou (Do Your Job) 2013; and Pano Ap’ola (On Top Of Everything) 2012.

A couple of these earlier songs are on compilation albums and all are available as online downloads.

He’s the son of the late Michael Menidiatis (Michael Kalogranis 1932-2012) a rebetiko singer.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

Money Chase

All About E directed by Louise Wadley (Australia) 2014 is more than a lesbian romantic thriller. It covers many other issues as its main character, a glamorous DJ, sets out on a road trip after discovering a bag full of money. Along the way it’s revealed that her parents are Lebanese, that she gave up a promising career as a flutist, and also alienated the woman who loved her most.


Even though all the action takes place down under, the actor who plays her father is actually Greek as is the composer whose music plays throughout the film. It played in the recently concluded Frameline 39 and after it finishes the festival circuit it’ll be distributed by Wolfe Releasing.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

Greek Hospitality

Philoxenia, generous hospitality toward strangers, is a traditional Greek value too often lacking today. Immigrants are seldom welcomed and Albanians especially are the usual scapegoats for crimes and any bad behavior.


Xenia directed by Panos Koutras (Greece/France/Belgium) 2014 boldly overturns common perceptions. The two main characters of the film are teenage brothers, one gay and the other straight, born in Crete to an Albanian mother and a Greek father who abandoned them early on.

Their mother recently died so the young men go in search of their father hoping he will acknowledge them so they can establish legal status.

This journey takes them through some of the darker aspects of the country but they are survivors unwilling to abandon hope for a better future

The film played to a packed house during the 12th San Francisco Greek Film Festival that concludes Sunday. For more information and tickets for the remaining screening contact San Francisco Greek Film Festival.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Verdi Requiem

Mayor Luigi de Magistris of Naples visited San Francisco for the signing of three agreements of cooperation linking Naples and San Francisco, as part of his Unite The Two Bays initiative. The three major areas of interest are human rights, science and research, and technology.


In attendance at the ceremonies were Italian Consul-General Mauro Battocchi; Michael Sweet, chair of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission; Dr. William De Grado of UCSF; Professor Angela Lombardi of UNINA; and California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

The day’s celebration will conclude with a joint performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem by the San Francisco Opera and Naples’ Teatro San Carlo at the War Memorial Opera House on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco this evening.

Several young entrepreneurs and technology students will arrive from Naples to study at the Mind The Bridge Startup School.

Mayor de Magistris initiated civil unions in Naples and championed equal rights for all children born in Italy regardless of their parents’ origin. His city will host the Italian national LGBT pride celebration in 2014.

image & text copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Tangiers Solitude

Novelist and composer Paul Bowles escaped to Morocco, where he was the center of a mid-century, international, bohemian set that included literary luminaries such as William Burroughs, Truman Capote, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and Gore Vidal. Even though he appeared cool and elegant, his presence in Tangiers made it a hip destination for both beats and hippies.


Paul Bowles: The Cage Is Always Open directed by Daniel Young (Switzerland) 2012 includes the last interview Bowles made before his death. The film traces the life of Bowles and his wife Jane, whose story is fictionalized in The Sheltering Sky. Paul primarily focused his attention on men while Jane was primarily interested in women.

The documentary will screen once only Monday 24 June 2013, 11:00 AM at the Castro Theatre during frameline 37. For more information go to

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Flamenco Festival

The Seventh Annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival, part of Festival Flamenco Gitano USA 2012, includes four performances by musical artists from Spain, a couple of films, and workshops in dance and guitar.

Guitarist Diego Del Morao will play at Yoshi’s Oakland on Wednesday 26 September 2012 at 8:00 PM; the Fiesta Jerez Gypsy Flamenco All-Stars will appear at the Palace of Fine Arts Thursday 27 September 2012 at 7:00 PM; Jose Merce performs at the Palace of Fine Arts Friday 28 September 2012 at 8:00 PM; and Farruco Family appears at the Palace of Fine Arts Sunday 30 September 2012 at 7:00 PM.

For more information see the festival web site.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved