Two days of dancing, food and festivities can only mean one thing - The Melbourne Rebetiko Festival! The first ever to be organized took place late last August. The two-day event featured a variety of music from Smyrna to Pireotiko rebetiko and also showcased a host of local artists who performed hits from the golden era, 1920-1959.
Con Kalamaras and Kon Karamountzos are the two founders of the festival. It has made an effort to bring together the rebetiko community in Melbourne. The festival was held in the Oakleigh where attendees celebrated both the musical and cultural legacy of rebetiko and the influence which it has had not only on Greeks but the rest of the world too.
Artists performed some of the legendary hits by Kostas Skarvelis, Sotiria Bellou, as well as Giorgos Mitsakis, Markos Vamvakaris, and Vassilis Tsitsanis. Seeing's as it was the first Rebetiko Festival ever to be held, they hoped to celebrate the Melbourne musicians as they played rebetiko. In this way, concert organizers could showcase the very best of what Melbourne has to offer the music world.
Kon Karamountzos said that they also chose to feature some of the newer bands on stage, including a multi-ethnic group, Zourouna. In fact, the opening act for this year's Rebetiko Festival was a group of Bouzouki students, as they represent the next generation of rebetiko in Melbourne.
As this year has seen a successful weekend for the organizers, musicians and guests alike, we can only hope that the Melbourne Rebetiko Festival will be even better next year.