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Reviews: Rough Guide to Greek Cafe

We’ve decided to have a Rough Guide week here at Driftwood. My little island is covered in snow, and being stranded makes for a pretty rough Christmastime. The birds have all decided to pack up and leave, and they resisted all my efforts to tie myself to their legs to fly me to the mainland. Months of making string out of beard hairs, up in the air.

Rough Guides are great compilations of various world music genres both familiar and unfamiliar. They tend to please both the uninitiated who are just looking for something a little different and the well-versed. And best of all, they usually come with a second CD that the Rough Guide editors decided was the best of the bunch.

Various Artists
Rough Guide to Greek Cafe
[World Music Network (2010)]

This Rough Guide compilation samples the lively, mostly acoustic music played in Greek cafes and cabarets. The Greek Café volume demonstrates the strong link that the artists in this genre maintain to Greek legends and folk traditions, while they are branching out in new directions. Kristi Stassinopoulou brings a psych-folk edge to “Sto Patihraki,” while the instrumental “ Tatvia,” a collaboration between Mode Plagal and Vosporos, starts out slow and stately, later moving into a playful dance tempo. The bonus disc is the 2006 debut recording by Dimitris Mistikadis, which features mostly solo guitar arrangements of the traditional Rembetika songs from which the origins of contemporary Greek folk music can be traced.

—Michael Parrish (San Jose, CA)

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