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The GiH Team sat down with Houston's newest link to the Greek music stars: Barbara Derakis. "Barbara Greek," as she's known on Facebook, is bringing the "Legends Tour: Songs of Our Fathers." This concert features Stelios Dionysiou, Giannis Vardis and Harry Varthakouris, all sons of legendary Greek singers, and stars in their own right.
Do you have your TICKETS yet?
GiH: How did you get started in the concert promotions scene?
BD: I have always loved Greek music and dancing. As many of us, I’ve grown up on it. I moved here from Chicago and albeit I LOVE living in Houston, I really missed the entertainment that was available in Chicago. Luckily, I knew some people in the industry so I started making phone calls. I thought to myself: will it be easy? NO, but it would be WORTH it!! One minute I was wishing for events, the next I was setting them up. I had started out thinking I would bring Marinela/Remos but the timing of that tour just didn’t make sense for Houston. I can’t take full credit for getting started, as I have had some really, really amazing people help me. My friend, Kiki Koumarianos being one of them, she approached me about The Legends initially, and she has been helping me since. I have met some really SUPER amazing people along the way that have guided me. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
I have a motive or an incentive to doing this. Meaning I have my children and all the children here in Houston to whom I want to help introduce and in my own way to teach all about our music and our culture and what better way to teach our children than by the universal language of music?! My motivation behind starting this is that I want to promote Hellenism for us, for our children and for our children’s children.
GiH: What was the driving force in you bringing this Legends Tour to Houston?
BD: The Legends Tribute concert is very special. The 3 artists, of their own right, have almost half of the Greek discography behind them. Their fathers were, and in the case of Giannis Parios, still are Legends. There is not a song you do not know or a song you have not danced to and sang along to in their repertoire. Their music is like a time machine transporting you to a magical place that IS Greece.
GiH: We can’t wait to see the show! What can we expect from this show and these performers?
BD: Okay, first of all I must mention that they are FUNNY! As in I find myself laughing constantly, they’re such a pleasure to work with.
I’m not an expert but I can confidently state that all 3 artists are uniquely different in their musical attributes but each is successful in his own area and with Gold and Platinum Albums to boot. You have Harry Varthakouris who is a well-known pianist, music and lyric composer, he has countless “hits” that have been sung by popular Greek artists. Then there’s Gianni Vardis who also is a composer and like his father before him has a special voice, song repertoire and voice recordings. Stelios Dionusiou has that velvety voice that can sing an awesome zeimbekiko and let’s not forget his Platinum “me onoma baru san istoria” ……. I think their fathers would be proud!
GiH: Can you tell us a bit about each singer?
BD: Stelios Dionysiou: In 1996 he started his professional career in Thessaloniki and the following year was signed by recording firm "Minos". His first recorded album "Με όνομα βαρύ σαν ιστορία" (Under the weight of a historic name) came out in December of 1997. The album became a Platinum hit. In 1998 he partnered with Anna Vissi with success and in 1999 he recorded his second album "Επιβάλλεται" (It is necessary) - a golden hit.
Giannis Vardis: His first album was on the album of his father, Antonis Vardis, "In Hellas 2000". His first album was released in 1997 under the name "Family Case", with four songs. In 1998 he released his first album titled Ama deis ta paidia "If you see the children," the youth's response was very massive. The record became Gold from the first day and so was a record, while within 3 months it became Platinum. The album "Tell Me What You Feel" was re-released in 2003 and included the song, "A Moment," with which Yiannis Vardis competed in the Eurovision qualifiers. Most recently he was a judge on Greece’s version of the hit TV show, The Voice.
Harry Varthakouris (Parios): Harry’s musical talents were cultivated from the young age of the legendary singer Giannis Parios. He is also widely known for writing, arranging, and producing hit songs for Antonis Remos, Despina Vandi, Sakis Rouvas and Natasa Theodoridou. He is the youngest recipient of a Platinum record (age 10) when he composed and sang the classic hit Pio Kali Monaxia with his father. He studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has released 3 solo albums, including big hits such as Vradia Aksimerota, Adynamia Mou, Fonaxe Pio Dunata and more. He has produced some 20 songs for his father, plus music for TV shows, radio stations and commercials.
GiH: What are your future plans for the Greek concert scene here in Houston?
BD: I hope to have a few great concerts a year. I want to be picky as to what type of music is played and who comes to Houston. I would like to have amazing performances that are WORTH it, because truly, it is not easy. I intend to not only focus on concerts, I would love also to produce theater performances and am working on that front as well. I’m also talking with the International Greek Film Festival so we can get some renowned Greek and Greek-American film screenings. I would love to organize some other type of Greek nights as well. Ideally, I’d want to have at least one Greek (related) event a month.
GiH: Do you have anything else lined up for later this year or in 2018?
BD: Well, I was kind of keeping it a (little known) secret until everything was confirmed. But I am happy to announce a Mitropano Tribute concert with none other than Dimitri Bassis is coming to Houston!!! It will be an intimate performance, as I am only having 250 lucky people to attend. He is one of the most beloved and respected voices of Greece. Featuring Yiannis Sinanis (bouzouki to the famed Mitropanos) and musical director Achileas Wastor. I have partnered with the organization of Chios in New Orleans who also will be hosting Dimitri and his band in NOLA. This marks the 20th year of Bassis performances and he is doing his biggest USA tour yet. It should be another excellent concert. More info will be sent on this.
I am also happy to announce that Houstonian & Bouzouki player extraordinaire, Tasos Kopulos, and the amazing voice of Thymios Partalas and I have been closely working together on hosting a Greek New Year’s Eve party!
Also, I’ve arranged for Tasos and Thymios to OPEN for the Legends concert! How great is that?!
Thymios Partalas and the Papahatzis Greek American Super Band
Combined the band consists of over 50 years worth of musical experience.
Kostas Papahatzis, Panagiotis Papahatzis and Tasos Kopulos have played greek music for over 30 years. They have played for famous Greek singers, special events and entertained thousands of patrons over the years. Kosta currently lives in New York. Panagioti lives in New York and Thessaloniki. Kostas and his keyboard fill the air with amazing rhythms and melodies. Tasos with his Bouzouki can play up any Greek song you can think of at a drop of a hat and continues to keep up with the latest Greek top 40. Panagioti on percussion keeps them on track.
GiH: Is there anything else we need to know about the Tour?
BD: Oh where to start… it’s been a roller coaster of exciting frenzy to pure dismay at times. I hope everyone will come and tell their friends to come for what is to be a VERY entertaining night. I guarantee for this to be THE night everyone will be talking about.
GiH: How can we keep up with you, Go Funky Monkey and your future events?
BD: You’re more than welcome to follow me on face book via my appropriate alias: Barbara Greek
(I still laugh at that one). People are also welcome to subscribe on my website online at: www.gofunkymonkey.com to stay updated on any current or future events.
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