It all starts with an idea… Australian singer-songwriters Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody once penned the iconic line “From little things big things grow.”
Their line is synonymous with the current cultural movement occurring in the cities of Melbourne and Sydney — the weekly Melbourne Rebetiko Jam and the Sydney Greek Jam.
How are they connected? Following the successful tsunami of the Melbourne Rebetiko Festival, local rebetiko musicians Wayne Simmons and Con Kalamaras identified the need to provide opportunities for local musicians to unite in a supportive, nurturing environment to play and appreciate live rebetika.
The concept was simple: find a space every Wednesday night for people to gather at the rebetiko jam and to inspire listeners to learn more about the genre’s rich history and tradition.
Inspired by the momentum of the Melbourne Rebetiko Jam, Sydney-sider Christina Bacchiella also wanted to create a space for musicians to share their passion for Greek music and culture.
“The Sydney Greek Jam is reflective of the principles of providing an open space,” Bacchiella said. “Inclusiveness, support and above all an openness for people to play live Greek music.”
Both jams have gained popularity while fueling interest and appreciation of Greek music among Greeks and non-Greeks alike.
Seeing potential for growth, the local Melbourne Council decided to support the jam. In 2020, the council aims to expand them to public workshops for all musicians to attend.
The events have also raised funds that will cover the costs of bringing musicians from Greece to Australian audiences.
“There is a new generation of talent in Greece that is gaining major global attention,” Kalamaras said. “We would like to share their talents with the broader Australian audience.”
The Melbourne native said he and his co-organizers aim to foster collaborations between musicians from Greece and local musicians in Melbourne and Sydney. Their goal is to encourage people to play and to inspire emerging generations of talent.
Melbourne and Sydney will continue to host jams and gigs with two renowned musicians from Athens — bouzouki virtuoso and vocalist Fotis Vergopoulos and classically trained pianist, accordion extraordinaire and vocalist Haroula Tsalpara.
All the events aim to promote artist development and offer participants the opportunity to perform live.
It all harks back to the simple line: “From little things, big things grow.”