Den grekiska folkmusikgruppen i Norden

The Northern Latitudes

From time immemorial the Greeks have been forced to emigrate from Greece to lands far and near,  even to ”The Northern Latitudes”. This is the reason why the emigrant’s involuntary alienation has been the subject of folk music. On the other hand, very few songs have sung of the voluntary emigrant’s life and existential reflections, an emigrant who has been integrated into a new society,  its ways of thinking and life patterns. How does it feel time after time to be called “Swedish“ in Greece and “Greek“ in Sweden? To discover that one doesn’t recognize childhood friends? To see new weaknesses and strengths in one’s native country that one had never seen before?  To feel the need to defend with the same intensity and matter of course what is Greek when in Sweden and what is Swedish when in Greece? We have now chosen to attire a number of these universal reflections in words and newly composed music.

Taximi’s new CD production is a result of a commitment over several years to the wealth of Greek traditional music.  A commitment arising from the group members’ ardent desire time and again to renew contact with their roots. This is not because of any bitterness or any remote goal to finally be reunited with the mother country  – all members of the group have made an active choice to live and make their livelihood in Sweden – but because of their wish to act as ambassadors here in Scandinavia for this musical treasure-trove. As for the setting of the texts to music, the choice of instruments and the arrangements, we have chosen to stick to what is called “rebetiko“ and “smyrneiko“. These two styles, handed down through tradition, have been and are still of vital importance for us and the majority of Greeks the world over.

Musicians performing on this cd:

Jannis Avramidis: bouzouki, sazi, outi, tzoura
Christos Despiniadis: guitar, laouto
Ann-Catherine Hedin: baglama
Antonis Kassitas: bouzouki, tzoura
Tellis Papadopoulos: accordion, piano
Benjamin Quigley: bass
Vangelis Vlavianos: bouzouki, tzoura, mandolin
Hakan Vreskala: percussion
Coskum Yesiltepeler: violin
Musical arrangements: Christos Despiniadis

Roula Manissanou was born in Thessaloniki, where she studied to be a special subject teacher in the English language and literature. She currently works mainly as an English teacher at Tyrnavos High School in Larisa, Greece.

As a singer she has over the years collaborated with some of the foremost composers and singers in Greek music, such as Jannis Markopoulos, Giorgos Dalaras, Dimitra Galani and many others. She was among those who started the musical and theatrical group “Agami Thite“, which is very well known in Greece.

Her repertoire and musical capacity comprises a broad range of genres, everything from rebetiko and smirneiko to modern jazz.

Apart from her musical activities, she also works on the theatrical stage as an actress with many different roles in her repertoire.


1. Margarita’s zeibekiko
Instrumental zeibekiko

Music: Vangelis Vlavianos
(Vangelis Vlavianos dedicates this zeibekiko to the three Margaritas in his life: his paternal grandmother, his sister and his daughter.)

2. The rebetiko clubs
Each time I return
I can´t stand the loneliness.
The only solution is to go looking
for the old rebetiko clubs,
where my childhood friends hang out.
But my friends no longer recognize me…
They look upon me as a stranger.
How will I be able to explain
that I am still the same person,
who dances in the same way,
has the same way of talking,
behaves in the same manner?
Lucky for me that the music is there
to bring us together again.

Music and lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Christos Despiniadis

3. Play my rebetis!
In the din of the city,
among people and confusing messages
a simple little melody
caressed my ear…
Play, my rebetis!
Play, my companion from the past,
weave in my pain
between your strings
and liberate my tired memory!

Music and lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Roula Manissanou

4. Come along with me one evening
Come, my love,
to nice and cosy taverns,
have a good time with me
Listen to the lovely tones of the guitar and bouzouki.
Dance with me my princess,
for your sake I would do
everything and a little more…
Music and lyrics: Vangelis Vlavianos
Vocal: Christos Despiniadis

5. Solitude
This evening too
I pour the poison into the glass and
take my bouzouki in my hands
to sing of my loneliness.
Life is a burden, you eternal wanderer,
heavy and lonely
wherever you go in these northern latitudes…
But don’t despair,
we are all a wind that blows and disappears.

Music and lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Antonis Kassitas

6. Open your heart
Open your heart
and listen to the song
I wrote to you
Flower of Bosporus!
The wind took my words with it
when I once journeyed away
but my words became birds
that to my consolation flew
and built a nest in your beautiful hair.

Music and lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Roula Manissanou

7. In the bylanes of chania
Don´t forget our old gang,
you who made off to a foreign country.
Come back and offer us a little of your sweet wine!
Don’t forget your bygone loves,
the evenings in the bylanes of Chania.
Even the alleyways, the house vaults and the balconies,
that are now sold to tourists as souvenirs,
long for your return.

Music: Christos Despiniadis
Lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Roula Manissanou

8. The nun
You became a nun
and you put on the black, heavy clothes.
but I can never forget your eyes,
never betray your lips.
Like a living candle I slowly melt away.

(Taximi dedicate this song to Tasia Kasiola, leader of the choir
“Kasiola Voices”, Trikala, Thessaly, Greece.)

Music: Jannis Avramidis
Lyrics: Marina Granlund, Jannis Avramidis
Vocal: Christos Despiniadis

9. Last will and testament
In the final harbor of my wandering
I want to crawl once more into a dark little tavern
where my friends are.
I want to talk with them about bygone times,
when we played our sweet bouzouki strains.
When death comes to take me
I want all my friends
to sing a song for me.
I want to have my baglama at my side too;
Its sweet sound can keep me company forever.

Music: Jannis Avramidis, Christos Despiniadis,
Vangelis Vlavianos
Lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Christos Despiniadis

10. The big word
You are not going to hear
the big word from my mouth,
at least not in a foreign tongue.
If you want to say the big word to me,
Say it in your own language
for it is only then that I know it is sincere…
It is only then that it reaches both our souls.

Music: Jannis Avramidis, Christos Despiniadis
Lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Roula Manissanou

11. the spoils of forgetfulness
The heart struggles to be free
from reason
when we like snorting horses
gallop past the present
in pursuit of life.
The old woman twines
the past into a thin thread
and ponders over what was never done.
The spoils of forgetfulness were melted down to a pitiful ounce of gold to
be pleased with.

Music and lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Roula Manissanou

12. I have a yearning
I have a yearning in my heart,
a little house by the sea.
I find joy in your lips
and the sun in your eyes,
when I creep up to your bosom, safe and secure.
Together we can rest our gazes
Over the salty waves,
While I foretell the future in your palms.

Music: Jannis Avramidis
Lyrics: Antonis Kassitas, Jannis Avramidis
Vocal: Roula Manissanou

13. In the northern latitudes
In the northern latitudes,
cloudy skies
and dark winters
we all became frequent visitors
when war, poverty or love
drove us here.
I take up my bouzouki, my tzoura
or my baglama
to warm my soul
and to remember who I am.

Music: Christos Despiniadis
Lyrics: Antonis Kassitas
Vocal: Christos Despiniadis

Recorded: May 26th–28th and June 19th–20th 2004 in Atlantis Studios, Stockholm
Recorded by: Janne Hansson Mixed by: Pontus Olsson Mastering: Claes Persson (CRP Recording)
Musical arrangements:
Christos Despiniadis Liner notes and Swedish translation: Antonis Kassitas
English translation:
Robert Carroll Photo: Björn Abelin, Maria Ramström p. 3, 9, 12, 13, 19, 23 Editor: Peter Ahlbom
Graphic design: Annsofi Ericsson Petrini Executive producer: Kjell Söderqvist