There are many musicians in the village, and the people love music. They love their own more than any other, but their tastes can be eclectic.
In Vasillis’ and Elias’ bars you get anything from local to Egyptian to Greek pop to Dodecanese music. In Gabriella's’, rembetika to world music via motown, jazz and blues. At the Anixis there is blessed silence.
The people do not play to perform. They play because they have the kefi or feeling for music. They must be in the right mood, or it must be the right day, or the right festivity. Above all they will not play when it is a day for remembering a deceased friend or relative, neither will they play, or dance , or be seen to enjoy themselves within one year of a death in the family, or of a close friend.
You will see several lyres and a lauto in Michali's place, for he is a great musician and will sometimes play Cretan or local music for his customers. He plays Cretan style, a four stringed lyra with ba long bow without bells. He is at his best when singing sad and ancient ballads of love and loss.
Hanging up in Gabriella's you may notice a lyra. This belongs to my friend Minas Prearis. He made it. He is of an older generation, a man of hidden, but great depth and he plays beautifully.
Sitting having my morning cafe latte in Gabriella's and trying to read, I am joined by Agapios a shepherd and painter and decorator, who just happens to be writing a book on the flowers of Karpathos and Saria. He knows them all, and has identified several that are known only in Karpathos and one unknown previously anywhere in the world. Maybe it will be named after him louloudi agapiou. Motown is playing and Gabriella is shouting at her customers as usual. On the hill someone is using a pneumatic drill. Minas Prearis walks in, picks up the lyra that he has not touched for nearly a year and unpurturbed by all the fuss and not noticed by anyone, starts to play beautiful local music. We fall silent. He plays one final tune that I recognise and love, nods to me, puts down the lyra and walks away waving at nobody in particular. It is moments like this that bring us alive.
Another time we had supper with new visitors to the village, professional musicians; Jaap, a Dutch clarinettist and Natasha a guitarist, singer songwriter. Natasha is from Siberia and full of passion.
Georgos and I provided the octopus and Gabriella cooked octopus spaghetti.
Of course, two hours before supper Georgos wanted to go fishing for atherinos the delicious small fish. We threw the nets five times and caught nothing, maybe half a kilo in all. Each time we had to clean the nets and this is boring work and I row the boat and this is tiring work.
We were pissed off.
I shouted in my best Greek.
God is a bastard
I shook my fist at the sky.
We threw the nets one more time.
When we pulled them in they were full of fish. I mean thousands. Maybe tens of thousands, we caught 10 kilos ! Cleaning the nets took three hours.
So I guess God might be a bastard, but she has a sense of humour. Georgos told me to say nothing more.
At least we had fresh fish for meze.
So, Jaap put on one of his CDs and played really sweet clarinet along with the music, while Natasha told me I had soul. She then sang sad Russian music. They are both excellent musicians. Meanwhile Minas Prearis turned up. He had been kind of flirting with Natasha the night before. He sat there looking at her, fluttering his eyelashes 20 years older and half her size. I asked him to play.
No, no, no. The usual stuff.
Natasha wants to hear....
Suddenly, without tuning up or any preparation he has the lyra and is sitting inside Gabriella’s playing beautifully. Feet tapping, head nodding, smiling at Natasha. winking at me. He stuns the company, keeps us in total silence for half an hour, puts down the lyra , smiles and walks off. As if to say;
This is my territory, I play the best music. I am the boss.
And he’'s right.