Smyrneika 'B-side'

Sunday 22nd October 2023 @ Jamboree


We use the term ‘Smyrneika’ quite loosely as songs that were recorded in the early parts of the 20th century in Istanbul or Smyrni from Greeks living there based mainly on ‘Makams’ (modal music). Following the destruction of Smyrna and the forced migration of Greek populations to mainland Greece, the same term is used to describe songs of the same style that were recorded in Athens and Salonica by Greek artists from Smyrna and Istanbul (‘Smyrnioi’ and ‘Polites’). These are distinguished from ‘Peiraiotika’ rebetika which are based mostly on fretted instruments (bouzouki, tzouras, baglamas) from their insistence on microtonal music and its expression through non-fretted instruments such as violin, lyra, oud and kanun.


The A-side and B-side are the two sides of the, once popular, two-sided music recordings. In the digital age of downloads and streaming these terms are pretty much dead. We have however been lucky enough growing up to hold in our hands cassettes, turning them over frantically from one side to the other. The crude, cold A/B taxonomy staring at us, filling us with questions: “why A, why B?” “who decides that?” “is A better? It must be..”

The elders of our age (Wikipedia) explain it as follows: “The A-side usually features a recording that its artist, producer, or record company intends to be the initial focus of promotional efforts and radio airplay and hopefully become a hit record. The B-side is a secondary recording that typically receives less attention…”

B-side. “Secondary” … unlikely to become “hit records” and not “the focus of promotional efforts”.

We have always been strangely drawn to B-sides. B-sides are not to be taken lightly, their purpose is higher. You won’t listen to them in your car on the radio after an ironing board advertisement and nod carelessly to their beat. They are not there to amuse you. B-sides are there to move you, stop you, grab you. They are there to make you listen. They become the hard truths you are uncomfortable with. They are there for you to respectfully bow to their sweet melancholy. They are there to make you cry or put you in a frenzy. Of course they are not radio hits. They want to be underground, they want to be hidden. They are honest outlaws. Especially if they are Smyrneika B-sides…

Andria Antoniou, Maria Tsirodimitri, George Angelopoulos, Kostis Glynos, Alexandros Koustas, Miltos Boumis and Simon Mercouris, are declared B-siders. Come to Jamboree on Sunday, 22 October. Let’s get in a frenzy together!


Andria Antoniou: Voice
Simon Mercouris: Voice
Maria Tsirodimitri: Guitar
Alexandros Koustas: Violin, kemençe (politiki lyra)
Konstantinos Glynos: Kanun
George Angelopoulos: Lavta
Miltos Boumis: Percussion

Event Details

Doors open: 19:00

Music starts: 19:30

Music finishes: 22:00

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