1 November 2003
I have spent the past hour reading the latest contributions to the “Hydra
I shall not reply to all the points raised, at least not at this moment.
First, the most important thing. The next Hydra Gathering will be on the
topic of “MODES AND ROADS, TAXIMIA AND MAQAMS”. It is of course open to all
members of the Rebetiko Forum.
The conference will take place over 4 days, on 13-17 October 2004, on the
island of Hydra.
Other than that, allow me to say one or two things:
One person accuses me of being a new General Scobey come to colonise the
Greeks. Others speak of me as the “Anglo” who has come to lay imperialist
hands on rebetiko. If I speak of racism and nationalism exemplified in the
rhetoric of this debate, it is partly for this facile assumption of my
“Englishness”. For the record, and for what it is worth, I am Greek on my
I am accused of showing no interest in the jam session on the stairs on
Saturday night. Allow me to tell you that once I had finished helping Nikos
Dionysopoulos take down the wires, cables and loudspeakers for his sound
system at five o’clock in the morning, I made my way to the steps, and was
there to the end. Unlike other people, I was there to watch the dawn come
We do not have simultaneous translation at the conference, and probably
never will have. If people speak in Greek, they speak in Greek; if they
speak in English they speak in English. In either event it is the
responsibility of the speakers to provide the text of their speech
beforehand, so that it is available to all participants. Where possible I
work on translating the speeches (as I did with Zaimakis’s excellent speech
this year). Most speakers, however, do NOT provide pre-conference versions
of their speeches.
As regards the “assumption” that Rebetiko Forum would be at the jam
session, the programme stated that “we are hoping that…”, and that hope
was based on the fact that George P. assured me that he personally would be
there this year.
Costs of the conference. Tell me where, in the area of academic
conferences and other such events, you can find anything like a 3-day
conference with speakers, and workshops, and films, and the best musicians,
and theatre performances, etc etc (not to mention the best party in the
Mediterranean) for a mere 40 euros. We keep the price low in order that it
is open to everybody to attend. If people cannot afford that money, then
they pay what they can afford. And for the islanders of Hydra both the
Conference and the Concert are entirely free. All of which, in my opinion,
is pretty damn good.
War and peace: I have absolutely no interest in promoting a state of war
here. The Hydra Rebetiko Gathering is solidly established. We do good work,
and we will continue to do good work. We (and here I speak for the
collectivity of people who attend it - whose opinions have not yet been
expressed in the pages of the Rebetiko Forum) are very proud of what we have
It is clear that if the “Hydra Rebetiko Gathering” joins forces with the
“Rebetiko Forum”, then remarkable things might happen, and that would be
good. This is probably worth pursuing.
Therefore I suggest that we use the coming 12 months to develop a creative
dialogue about how we work can together. My impulse is towards building
bridges and not to creating divisions. (As we all know, division is what has
always characterised the field of “rebetology” in Greece.)
I propose a meeting of all interested parties, in Athens, in the early
months of 2004, in order to discuss such a possibility.
- As above, the next Hydra Gathering will be on the topic of “MODES AND
ROADS, TAXIMIA AND MAQAMS”. This is a very challenging and difficult
undertaking. In which we shall all have something to learn, and all have
something to contribute.
As every year, it will continue to have something of a handmade character.
But I imagine that those who attend will find the conference interesting,
stimulating, even exciting.
With rebetological greetings,