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A Greek party for new Boss album and tour October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek.
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Bruce Springsteen’s local fan club will host a party in Athens on Friday

Back with a new album, “Magic,” his first since 2002’s Grammy Award-winning “The Rising,” Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band are currently touring the US and begin the European leg of the tour in Madrid on November 25, the first of 13 shows planned.

bruce_springsteen.jpg  Greece, however, has not been included on the itinerary. To avoid feeling totally detached, Springsteen’s fan club in Greece, dubbed “No Surrender,” will host a party for his new album and European tour this Friday night in Athens at the Blue Bar, 8 Mesolongiou Street, Halandri, Athens.

Fans will get to hear rare B-sides as well as bootleg recordings from various stages of Springsteen’s career.

Fifty DVDs featuring rare and previously unreleased material will be given away to fans who have yet to join the club, it announced, as long as they provide the doorman with the words “I thought I was the only one who listened to Bruce Springsteen in Greece,” presumably in Greek, but English or other languages may do! Happy party time to all!

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A triple treat for rock fans at Gagarin Club this Friday October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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The Saints, Gallon Drunk and local trio Dread Astaire all on one bill

The Saints, or Chris Bailey, the punk-era band’s frontman and sole remaining original member, were added to the agenda as a replacement for fellow Australians Beasts of Bourbon. In their heyday, the Saints were based in the UK and helped pave the way for other compatriot acts seeking fertile foreign ground.

The original plan for a triple-bill rock event at the Gagarin 205 club in Athens this Friday night included the Beasts of Bourbon, a long-running indie band from Sydney that was part of a fertile scene in the 80s for Australian acts, a number of which had impact abroad. The Beasts of Bourbon, however, withdrew after apparently losing the support of their label for a European tour. Even so, the one-day festival’s promoter has managed to maintain some of the evening’s character by filling the gap with another Australian band of the aforementioned era, the Saints, or, more accurately, Chris Bailey, the punk-era band’s frontman and sole original member still on board. Also on Friday’s bill are Gallon Drunk, back following several performances here in recent years, and the Thessaloniki trio Dread Astaire.

Back in their heyday, in the mid-to-late 70s, the Saints stood as a force on the punk scene. Emerging from Brisbane, where conservative politics ruled and affluent retirees relocated for the magnificent weather, the Saints were a stark contrast. After gaining some momentum in Australia, the ambitious band quickly relocated to the UK, the focal point of the punk movement, and established itself as an integral part of the scene, internationally.

Not long after, the Australian band’s success in the UK encouraged other aspiring compatriot acts to also try their luck in what was generally viewed, at the time, as a key location for the evolution of contemporary music. Fellow Brisbane act the Go-Betweens, now disbanded following last year’s death of co-founder Grant McLennan, and Melbourne’s Birthday Party, fronted by the then relatively unknown Nick Cave, were among the first Australian bands to follow in the path of the Saints and set up base in the UK. Stifled at home by a conservative-minded music industry and listening public, bands such as these felt the need to take their less orthodox sounds to more receptive places.

For a band hailing from a distant land whose rock music circuit had little if any tradition of acceptance abroad, the Saints achieved plenty. Signed by EMI, the Brisbane band released three albums on the label. The affiliation, somewhat strained by the Australian act’s refusal to accept demands by the label for the adoption of a typical punk image, torn clothes and mohawks, produced three albums, ending with 1978’s “Prehistoric Sounds,” a release that fused punk aggression with jazzy overtones.

Ed Kuepper, Bailey’s songwriting partner in the Saints, departed a year later after band politics split the two apart and swiftly began spearheading his own projects, beginning with the Laughing Clowns, an act with which he continued to develop the punk-jazz vein of “Prehistoric Sounds.” Following several Laughing Clowns albums, Kuepper started what has proved to be a very prolific solo career. Along the way, he has also released work as the Aints, a tongue-in-cheek response to Bailey’s insistence on preserving their old band’s name with the help of a parade of musicians over the years. For his current version of the Saints, Bailey is backed by Caspar Winjberg on bass and Peter Wilkinson on drums.

Gallon Drunk, Friday’s other main act, were formed in London in 1990 with James Johnston as frontman. After launching recording activity with two highly charged albums, both released in 1992, the band’s next effort, 1993’s “From the Heart of Town,” was nominated for the Mercury Prize, the prestigious UK music award.

A year later, Johnston was recruited by Nick Cave as a temporary replacement for guitarist Blixa Bargeld, who was unable to go on a tour with the Bad Seeds, Cave’s backing band. Johnston became a regular member of the celebrated act in 2003, after Bargeld, also a member of the German act Einsturzende Neubauten, withdrew from the Bad Seeds following an association with Cave that began the mid-80s. Following a number of older shows with Gallon Drunk, Johnston has also performed here with Cave’s Bad Seeds, as well as Mick Harvey, Cave’s lifelong music partner who played as a solo act last winter. The London band, which had provided the soundtrack for “Black Milk,” a film by Greek director Nikos Triandafyllidis released in 1999, is currently finishing recording a new album titled “The Rotten Mile.”

The evening’s Greek band, Dread Astaire, a regular performer on the domestic scene over the past year or so, have so far put out two vinyl single releases on their own label, Fuzzie.

Tickets at 25 euros, are available at Ticket House, 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3608366. Gagarin 205 Venue, 205 Liosion Street, [close to “Attiki” train and metro station], tel 210 8547600. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Related Links > http://www.gagarin205.gr

Greek National Opera stages Verdi’s “Nabucco” October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera.
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Julia Pevzner invokes moments from modern history in her production of Verdi’s biblical “Nabucco”

The Greek National Opera is inaugurating the 2007/08 season with last-year’s successful production of Verdi’s “Nabucco,” to be performed on October 14, 16, 18, 20, 23, 15 and 27, though this year’s performance has a new cast.

The production, however, still bears the mark of Julia Pevzner, a Russian-born director who immigrated to Israel in 1991, and who received rave reviews for her modern take on the classic opera last year.

In Verdi’s biblical tale, Pevzner invokes moments from modern history, such as Nazi Germany and the searchlights of East Berlin in the late 1980s. Pevzner debuted at the Dallas Opera with a production of “The Queen of Spades” in 2003, and her European debut was with “Der Rheingold” and “Die Walkure” later in 2003 at the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, followed by a staging at the Israeli Opera of “Half a Moon Tale” in 2004. She has taken a special interest in new opera and musical theater works, fringe theater and innovative productions. She has staged a number of new Israeli operas. Her recent work includes “La serva padrona” and “Der Schauspieldirektor” in Israel, “Letters to Orpheus”, a poetic musical theater, in Georgia, “Boris Godunov” at the Houston Grand Opera and others. Future projects include “Eugene Onegin” and “Jenufa” at the Virginia Opera and “The Seven Deadly Sins” at the Helikon Opera in Moscow.

The music for the GNO production is conducted by Ilias Voudouris and the choir by Nikos Vassileiou. Sets have been designed by Antonis Daglidis, costumes by Tota Pritsa and the lighting is by Lefteris Pavlopoulos. The choreography is by Petros Gallias.

Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461 and 210 3643725.

Related Links > http://www.nationalopera.gr

Mark Hadjipateras takes stock on Rhodes October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Solo exhibition on Rhodes features the enigmatic hybrid creatures so typical of the artist > Hadjipateras’s ‘Home ‘n’ Friends’ is a huge installation comprising objects purchased from IKEA, given a new, non-utilitarian character.

He is one of those artists capable of creating an entire world and making the viewer feel part of it. Mark Hadjipateras’s work moves between the fields of sculpture, painting, photography and installation art. It makes up a small, personal universe in which every viewer feels welcome.

This mood prevails in the artist’s solo exhibition, at the Municipal Gallery of Rhodes until the end of the month. With “Home ‘n’ Friends” as a title, the exhibition features the enigmatic hybrid creatures that are so typical of his work and seem as if taken out of fairy tales or science-fiction stories. They are creatures that resemble toys, animals or objets trouves and seem to come from different periods in time and civilizations. They transmit a will to communicate with the viewer, a positive energy and a surface innocence. But they also challenge the viewer’s intellect.

Hadjipateras chose some of his hybrid protagonists for his mosaic installation that adorns Manhattan’s 28th Street subway station. Those sympathetic creatures add a touch of happiness to the otherwise dull surroundings of the metro and, as in the Rhodes exhibition, are a psychological lift for the viewer.

The Rhodes exhibition is the first time that the artist has taken on the role of curator. “I had to choose and install all the works that I believe to be representative of all my work. My estimate is that I have created more than 3,000 works from the 1980s until today. This is a sort of survey exhibition. I tried not to be overwhelmed by the challenge but to be light about it. My idea was to show some works that have never been shown before or that are very recent. I finally decided that with the 80 works that I chose, I would tell a small story,” the artist said.

Hadjipateras, who belongs to the well-known family of shipowners from Oinouses, is unpretentious and affable. He also has unconventional views on art: “The story I am telling at the Rhodes exhibition is that art is not only for the elite or for art historians and specialists. On the contrary, the presentation of an artist’s work should be an open invitation to everybody. In any case, most of the people who will come visit this exhibition will most likely be tourists. My objective was to create an exhibition that would communicate a feeling of familiarity and domestic warmth, a playful mood. An artist should know how to entertain. Not to entertain with dubious lightness but by creating an attractive object or pleasant surroundings for the viewer. To entertain by sharing thoughts and emotions and not with haughtiness,” the artist said.

“Speaking for myself, I can say that I have found a refuge in art. Art helps me integrate socially and I really feel lucky that I have been able to commit myself to art without having to worry about making a living. This is why reciprocating becomes all the more important to me. I would like each work to be able to offer something to others. When I was studying art in London and when I was still a young artist, I very strongly felt the need of the public’s affirmation. I wanted to prove that I could make a good work of art. Nowadays, I enjoy much more the creative process itself.”

The exhibition is a huge installation comprising objects that the artist has purchased from IKEA: sheets, bedspreads, bottles, mirrors and cutlery are the artist’s tools, the idea goes back to Hadjipateras’s participation in the group exhibition “Unfair” which was organized by Gerasimos Kappatos. They are mass-produced, ordinary objects that take on a new, non-utilitarian character. This mini-retrospective exhibition on Rhodes reveals the diverse media in which the artist has worked: sculptures, objets trouves, monotypes and paintings among them.

“The mind never stops coming up with new ideas. Some works spring to mind but are implemented at a later time. As an artist matures, it is important that he become less narcissistic and more in tune with what he really carries within. I am lucky to be a father because my two sons have helped me to understand that neither one’s self nor one’s art are at the center of the world.”

Mark Hadjipateras’s maturity enables him to turn the childishness into a primary tool for his work. And, to do so with a sense of humor and irony but also with sincerity and self-awareness.

Municipal Gallery of Rhodes, 2 Symis Square, Old Town, Rhodes, tel 22410 23766 and 22410 36646. Open daily except Sundays 08:00-14:00.

Related Links > http://www.rhodes.gr/portal_en/

UEFA Cup draw today for the clean-sweep five October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Greece’s five UEFA Cup contestants, Panathinaikos, AEK, Panionios, Aris and Larissa, all through to the European club-level competition’s group stage, find out today who their rivals will be in the next stage, when the draw is held in Nyon, Switzerland.

The draw’s 40 participants will be drawn into eight groups of five teams, with each side playing two games at home and two away. The winners, runners-up and third-placed sides from each group will advance to the last 32 where they will be joined by the eight third-placed teams from the Champions League’s group stage.

The competition then converts to home-and-away knockout encounters all the way to the UEFA Cup final, scheduled for May 14 at Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium.

Panathinaikos goes into the draw as Greece’s only team in Pot 1, reserved for the top-ranked clubs. AEK will be drawn from Pot 2, Panionios from Pot 4, while Aris and Larissa both go into Pot 5.

AEK goes into the draw having maintained both top spot in the domestic Super League and a perfect record after four rounds of play with a 3-0 away win late Sunday night over fellow UEFA Cup qualifier Panionios.

Athens lies last in EU as a business center October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Living.
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The Athens transport network has improved considerably in recent years, but it seems that there is much left to be done before the Greek capital obtains the features of a modern business center, at least for Southeastern Europe, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

The international firm in its annual survey of high-level officials from 500 European enterprises shows that Athens lies last among the 33 European cities featured after sliding one spot from last year.

“Athens has lost one place compared with last year’s classification due to stagnation in the factors analyzed by the survey as well as the entry of three new cities. The latter come from Southeastern Europe and the Balkans, which due to their recent entry to the European Union have become a new attraction. These markets are seeing rapid changes and development,” says Niki Symboura, Head of the Greek bureau of Cushman & Wakefield.

Athens scores badly in many key categories, such as the supply of specialized personnel, occupying the 32nd spot, accessibility to markets (27th), quality of telecommunications (26th) and the transport network (28th). European businesspeople are not very happy either about the government climate (25th spot), the availability of office space (23rd) and the languages used by Greeks (31st). The internal transport network in Athens is last (33rd) in Europe while the quality of life for employees (26th) and the clean environment (30th) also score low. The only good news comes for Athens’s cost of employing staff (6th) and in the quality-price ratio for office space (19th).

Peloponnesian highway bill to be ratified October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure.
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The concession contract for the construction project of the Northwestern Peloponnese Highway has been resubmitted to Parliament for ratification.

The project, budgeted at 2.8 billion euros, has been named as Greece’s most significant road project in terms of both size and cost, and regards the reconstruction of the Corinth-Patras-Pyrgos-Tsakona (Kyparissia) highway. The respective bill is to include a provision that provides for measures to rapidly tackle uncontrolled development in locations included in a reforestation scheme.

The road is 365.4 kilometers long, of which 283.7 km are to be constructed as an entirely new swath, while the remaining 81.7 km regard the reconstruction and improvement of an already existing road, most of which was built 25 years ago.

The concession contract was won by the Apion Kleos consortium, comprising the companies Vinci SA, Hellenic Technodomiki, TEB SA, Aktor SA, J&P Avax SA, Hochtief Projektentwicklung GmbH, and Athina SA. In return for the construction of the project, the consortium will operate the road for a period of 30 years. The state’s contribution amounts to 550 million euros.

According to the current time schedule, safety on the existing part of the road must have been improved within a year, while the remaining parts should be delivered gradually with the last one after 70 months. Once completed, drivers would have to pay 7.50 euros in tolls, instead of the current cost of 4.50.