Just over a week ago I went to Jimmy Hornet in Swan Street Richmond with a muso friend to see his muso friend debut her latest line up in Kaliopi & the Blues Messengers including Kaliopi Stavropoulos on Voice and Guitar, Alto Sax – Radha Claridge, Bass Adam Di Quinzio and Jeffrey Kid on Drums.
photographs by Ross Irosspoxon
It was clear even before they began the set that Kaliopi was a veteran performer who knew what she was doing and where she was heading in the Blues. She stated by giving us a little background about one of her mentors who died in 1973. This I found very fascinating and from that point I was all in.
The nights performance was terrific so I decided to publish a story. After the gig I emailed Kaliopi Stavropoulos a few questions telling her that her gig inspired me to jump back on the blogger horse. Her written reply read:
“Yes indeed, eclectic blues fusing life’s various palettes and colours from a simple shade of blue. Definitely! I think life contextualises the music we play. I’ve been embracing the blues since my last compilation release ‘Love Loss & Mental Health” which seems a lifetime ago… And ironically during that tumultuous chapter or chapters of life I was blue releasing rock with a tint of Blues & Jazz with Soul….but now it’s Simple.. I play, sing and write the Blues feeling more at peace than ever before – even euphoric at times playing blues guitar Like I’ve come back home!…paradox how one can feel so good playing the blues…but feel so blue singing a tragic pop ballad, or screaming rock, improvising frantic jazz…. past few years I’ve kept it simple – expressing from singing.”
My next suggestion was…
You really opened up a portal when you said that Memphis Mini was one of your mentors and went on to give the audience tit bits of info. Perhaps let us know about your relationship with Memphis Mini as a perceived mentor.
“Memphis Minnie born in 1897, has served as a great role model in many ways.
When we reflect on our feminist movement in the 70’s Memphis Minnie, was ahead of her time 50 years earlier unassumingly challenged not only the impoverished slavery of Black African Americans singing and playing the blues, but also sang and played about domestic violence, corruption in the law, sexual liberation, forbidden sexual relationships – including same sex partners – depression and suicide, unprotected sex and backyard terminations. Minnie was a strong force of HERSTORY!
Some of her pieces we perform include, Kissing In Dark, Black Cat Blues, Dirty Mother Fur Ya, Hate to see the sun go down, and I want to include more – I love her metaphors and learn from her storytelling, and I want to continue carrying her torch.
Minnie played a significant role in exposing and protesting against a patriarchal domineering subordination of ‘women level of emotional intelligence’, that is arguably a distinct woman vantage that more than 2 Centuries later is recognised as the essential intelligence for world peace, order and equality, according to feminists including Altra Rock Chick (Oct 13 2014 Web review).
Memphis Minnie was also a pioneer guitar player and one of the first guitarists to play electric guitar so as to be heard over rowdy crowds. Minnie played a mean guitar who unquestionably, influences me, but certainly would have influenced Big Mumma Thornton born 30 years or so after Minnie – Minnie was born around my Grandma ‘Kaliopi’s’ time, and Big Mamma Thornton, around my Mum ‘Fani’ time –
Both my mother and grandmother are Greek Islanders who came to Australia in the mid 50’s from a Matriarchal part of Greece, – from the Dodecanese on the Aegean Sea…
I’ve always been very inspired by strong women as attested not only by my influences and lineage, but also the company I keep.”
What you would like to achieve as a musician into the future?
“This is another important and long story – but In short I must honor my art…I have a lot of time to make up for…that I won’t get into now…but performing is my purpose, the stage my home, the audience and colleagues my family and my guitar an extension of my voice. I’m warming into touring and as I develop my blue band I will incorporate blues songs I am writing, “Not Just Anybodies Daughter” and Running From The Law” are a couple of recent blues songs I’ve written that resonate with my blues message to celebrate and empower women in blues. I will record my album and hone my blues career starting in Australia and then the States, Europe and Asia – everywhere – spread the love and power of women in blues with my guitar and my Blues Messengers!“
After experiencing her Blues performance and reading these incredible answers I had a look on youtube to see what else I could discover about this strong, talented lady and I discovered that she started out as a ‘rock chic’ and has produced an Album titled KALIOPI Love Loss & Mental Health 40 YEAR COMPILATION. Following is a song written and performed by Kaliopi Stavropoulos.
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