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The Bouzouki of George Soffos Vol.1

The Bouzouki of George Soffos Vol.1

  • By George Soffos
  • Release 24/09/2013
  • Music Genre International
  • Media Format CD
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CD 
Price: $18.26

Product Notes

George Soffos was a musician's musician. With an amazing mastery of the bouzouki, lightning speed, excellent phrasing, and an enormous repertoire, he was an artist of the highest caliber. Beyond technical mastery, he played from the heart-infusing his music with emotion. Many considered him the best bouzouki musician born in the U.S. Soffos found enormous joy in music. It was a calling. It defined him. He loved to bring this same joy to others through his music. It was no accident that Greek music was his medium. Greek music plumbs the depths of the profoundest emotions-love, longing, joy, and despair. By plucking the strings of the bouzouki, Soffos could summon those feelings, flooding the hearts of listeners. Beginnings Soffos was born on November 6, 1953. His family roots were in Rhodes, and his father worked for Republic Steel in Warren, OH. His three brothers were involved in the music industry, but only he turned to Greek music. The family often hosted visiting musicians and travelled to hear major Greek stars who toured the U.S. Soffos received a bouzouki at 12, and was encouraged to play songs with the Louis Fatimus Orchestra. Soffos took lessons from Fatimus, and also learned from records and live performances. At 14 he joined the Grecian Lads, led by Parry Tsangaris. Tsangaris recalls, 'George was one of those people who had the music in him....he had speed and he felt the music. He was exciting.' Bouzoukia In the 1960s, the success of Never on Sunday and Zorba the Greek popularized Greek music with outside audiences. Bouzoukia (night clubs) offered music for dancing, as well as celebrity vocalists singing Europeanized laika (pop). Bands also played Middle Eastern tunes for belly dancers. Soffos decided to leave high school and play professionally. At 16, he moved to Washington D.C. to study with family friend John Tatasopoulos, then the most highly regarded bouzouki player. They performed together at Black Ulysses Restaurant from 1970 to 1971, and on Afieroma a Sto Xorio Mou, an album by singer Grigoris Maroulis. By 17, Soffos began his career as a headliner, starting at the Astor Club in Washington D.C. At 19, Soffos accepted a job at the Golden Dolphin in Atlanta, owned by singer George Evagoras. He played on the album A Grecian Evening with George Evagoras, with musicians Yiannis Tziotis, George Platanias, and Kostas Milonako. Soffos began to attract attention. Legendary country music songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant heard him, wrote a song, and brought him to Nashville to record 'Emmy Lou the Belly Dancer.' Around the Country During the early 1970s, Soffos played in Las Vegas; Silver Spring, MD; New York City; and California. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975, but sometimes played in Chicago and Greece. In California, he formed Apollo's Children with Ari Harmandas and Panos Lemonidis. They performed at Louis Gundunas' popular Balkan Village and other venues. In the 1970s Soffos' music revealed significant influences from contemporary rock and roll. Armenian violinist Hrach Yacoubian led a popular orchestra that played Greek, Middle Eastern, Armenian, and classical music. He invited Soffos to join them in 1977. He worked with them in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for 2 years. Soffos moved east in 1980, started a family, and played famed Chicago club Deni's Den in 1979, 1985-86, and 1992-94. Musician Maria Sklavounou Broude recalls: The very first time I heard him was at Deni's Den....it made my hair stand up straight-I was transported beyond this earth-it was such an ecstatic experience. Later I thought it was just my imagination. Over the course of my life, I had heard so many bouzouki performers-but none resonated with me the way his playing did. Every time I heard him play, I felt the same way.... I always thought he was close to God. From 1989 to 1992 Soffos and other excellent Chicago musicians (Demetri Xydas, Vasilis Roussis, Panos Lambropoulos, George Papadatos) co-owned Neon Greek Village. Soffos also sometimes worked with respected klarino player Jim Stoynoff, who observed: 'You noticed the ease with which he would start a phrase. And then he would layer up the complexity of what he would play. It's not very simple and his improvisations were very thoughtful, very structured.' Also, "What he did, and I found it inspirational...starting to accommodate newer audiences but not completely abandoning the traditional way; finding ways to still incorporate some of those characteristics of flavor, color, and emotion." Soffos periodically played at Molfetas in New Jersey, where he accompanied singer Nikos Kritikos and played on his album Den Eisai Ekeini. Other colleagues included Takis Elenis, Nikos Zervas, and Dimitri Matsis. He also played the Grecian Cave in Astoria, NY, with Manolis Angelopoulos, and in Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, and many Greek cities. He provided music for stars such as Poly Panou, Marinella, Rita Sakellariou, and Katerina Topazi, and played at countless festivals and other events. Moving toward the Sun Soffos joined brothers James and Michael in Florida in 1994. They co-owned a restaurant, but when it closed he returned to performing. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997. Initially it responded to radiation, but in 1999 it returned. Soffos underwent a tracheotomy, and ceased playing for several years. Meanwhile, the music scene was changing. As Greeks left the inner cities, many turned to American music. Demand decreased; bouzoukia and jobs diminished. Clubs and restaurants often switched to 'Greek Nights' once or twice a week. By the 1990s most bands changed their focus to events such as festivals, weddings, and dinner dances. Soffos resumed playing in 2003 and became the most sought-after performer in Florida. From 2003-2010 he performed locally with keyboardist Rhodell Fields. In 2009 he joined with friends Elias Poulos and Dino Theofilos to create Ellada. They soon were booked throughout the state and nation. Soffos developed a keen interest in teaching. He mentored aspiring young musicians through private lessons and workshops offered by the City of Tarpon Springs. He was gratified to see several students show the promise of future careers in music. During his final years, Soffos was accorded broader recognition. In 2011 he received a Florida Folk Heritage Award, and the National Council for Traditional Arts included him in the Guitar Masters set at the Lowell Folk Festival. He was a master artist in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program (2011-2012), and was the top-rated artist for the 2013 Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Folk and Traditional Arts. ?????a t?? ? µ??µ?-May His Memory Be Eternal George Soffos died suddenly of a heart attack on January 8, 2013. Soffos was intricately woven into the fabric of Greek music performances, venues, repertoire, and professional relationships. In many ways his life represents the history of Greek American music over the last 40 years. As a virtuosic musician and fine person, he brought great joy to many. His death is a tragic loss for all. Special thanks to Zane & Mary Ann Argeras, Joann Biondi, David Ellis, Blaine Q. Waide/Florida Folklife Program/Division of Historical Resources/Department of State, Florida Folklore Society, Steve Frangos, Stan & Maria Harris, National Council for the Traditional Arts, National Endowment for the Arts/Folk & Traditional Arts, Elias Poulos, Kostas Revelas, James & Kae Soffos, Damien Stefanidis, Jim Stoynoff, Dino Theofilos, Parry Tsangaris, Marisella Veiga, and Leonidas Zafiris. Produced by Tina Bucuvalas, Meletios Pouliopoulos & Zane Soffos. Liner notes: Tina Bucuvalas. Sound engineer: Damien Stefanidis. Design by The Creative Pool. Cover image: Joann Biondi.

Details

Artist: George Soffos
Title: The Bouzouki of George Soffos Vol.1
Genre: International
Release Date: 24/09/2013
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 884501984096
This product is a special order

Credits