Afternoon, Waterlooplein, sunshine, it is one of the first warm days this year in Amsterdam. I pay my regular visit to the bougatses specialist and I am already dreaming of my frappe me gala.
As I approach I notice a lot of people are there, I see some instruments, a TV camera crew and many phone cameras. Aha, it is the day of meeting Agathonas and Koza Mostra, the new Greek entry to the Eurovision festival.
Agathonas is the first Greek ever to play rebetika in Paradiso, the pop temple of the Netherlands, tenths of years ago. He used to come by the Netherlands annually for gigs the past 18 years. Today he is partnering with wild youth: Koza Mostra. Joking with mafia associations, at the end of the day the band has been named after the initiator Ilias Kozas. Crossovering traditional Greek music with Balkan ska, the group has an honest energetic aura, which is all there in my close encounter. They talk vividly, play their music lively in a sunny Amsterdam, attracting passing by crowds, bringing a smile to all faces with their music: a sincere adrenaline injection.
I contemplate on the cross over experiments we carry on in the Netherlands. Here the traditionalists are very much against any mixing/crossovering, pop is a kind of Antichrist. In Greece traditions and modern music meet every day. For example Agathonas, who’s musical weight counts a lot for the traditionalists as he is a famous authentic rebetika player, finds no peculiarity in playing different kinds of music and mixes styles at any given chance. The young guys of Koza Mostra on the other hand, have grown up in the musical mix of North Greece, the Balkan being closer to them than to the rest of Greece and especially Athens. Up-tempo, back-beat, brass section, Dionysos mood, sincerely yours.
The title of their Eurovision song is provocative: Alcohol is Free. Shake it bb, the group jumps around the stage, it’s pure energy, they always appear in kilts made by hand by the singer’s mother in law. Got the picture? The story of making the song is less provocative, Agathonas told me. One night, after leaving a music club, early in the morning, a car full of drunk Pontiers was swinging on the road. The song maker, also in the car, started singing, “Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol is free”: a song was born.
After a few hours of enjoying the frappe, bougatsa and Koza Mostra live, the guys left for their official press conference. That night they played at the Melkweg. Content I went home, one experience richer.
Alexandros Kyrkos is living in the Netherlands since 1987. He is an active musician, performing in the whole country and the neighboring ones: traditional Greek and Balkan, Greek pop and recently medieval songs. He is a multimedia expert, has been a media streaming guru and a Second Life entrepreneur. He is a Dutch media correspondent with people-tracking, editorial and translating tasks.