Country Music of Western Kenya: 45's from the archive of Shem Tupe

Rare recordings of rural Kenyan guitar music from the archive of legendary guitarist, singer and songwriter Shem Tupe. In the late 1960s, Shem Tupe, Justo Osala and Enos Okola formed Abana Ba Nasery (Nursery Boys), a trio characterized by cascading dual-guitar melodies and vocal harmonies in a pure Luhya style. These songs have been digitized and restored directly from Shem's personal collection of 45's, and have never before been issued outside of Kenya. This release includes a PDF with liner notes and photos by Cyrus Moussavi, who traveled to Bunyore, Kenya in 2016 to meet, interview and record Shem Tupe. 100% of proceeds from this release will go to Shem Tupe and Enos Okola, the surviving members of Abana Ba Nasery.
Co-released by Raw Music International: rawmusicinternational.com

The cassette and digital versions can be purchased at olvidorecords.bandcamp.com and streamed at olvidorecords.com

Kostas Bezos and the White Birds

The first-ever compilation of χαβάγιες ("havagies"), the nearly forgotten Hawaiian-influenced music of 1930s Greece, focused on the compositions of Kostas Bezos and his ensemble White Birds. A world-class slide guitarist, political cartoonist and sleepless Bohemian, Kostas Bezos created some of the most unique music of any era: surrealist guitar portraits blending Athens and Honolulu, haunting tropical serenades, wild acoustic orchestras, and heartbreaking steel guitar duets. Incredibly, this is the same musician responsible for the legendary "Kostis" rebetika recordings (see A. Kostis "The Jail's a Fine School" [OLV-002 / MRP-098]). Here, we present an entirely other side of his musical genius, absurd humor, and multi-dimensional legacy, and a rare document of a brief yet fruitful musical movement.

LP version includes a 32-page booklet with extensive notes by Tony Klein and Dimitris Kourtis, many rare photographs, lyrics, obituaries and a bonus CD containing 18 additional tracks. Restored and mastered from original 78s by Michael Graves, this release is limited to 1,000 copies. Digital version includes all 32 songs and a PDF of the booklet.

Co-released by Olvido Records (OLV-002) and Mississippi Records (MRP-098) on January 30th, 2017.

Release page with streaming audio at Olvido Records website.

Digital download available at Olvido Records Bandcamp.

A. Kostis "The Jail's a Fine School"

“Kostis” was the most enigmatic of all Greek rebetika artists. 12 songs of truly unique guitar duets and black-humor lyrics chronicling the hash dens, prison culture and pickpockets of old Athens. Recorded under a pseudonym for export to the Greeks living in America, research has uncovered the musician, journalist and cartoonist Kostas Bezos as the figure lurking behind the Kostis name, with ties to the famous singer Tetos Demetriades. Renowned for his slide guitar playing in Hawaiian-influenced orchestras throughout the 1930s, the Kostis recordings reveal an entirely different underworld of the macabre and illicit. The use of guitar in these now-classic rebetika songs display a virtuosity of finger-picked Near-Eastern modes and unusual tunings at the dawn of rebetika, when the bouzouki was yet to become supreme.

Presented in pristine audio quality mastered from original 78 rpm discs by Michael Graves, “The Jail’s a Fine School” stands as an important document of an enduring mystery in Greek music, and a high standard for what was once a truly subversive art form.

LP version includes a 28 page booklet with extensive notes and research by Tony Klein (“Greek Rhapsody,” “Mortika”) and Dimitris Kourtis, full lyrics in Greek and English, and several previously unpublished photographs. Digital version includes a PDF of the full booklet.

Co-released by Olvido Records and Mississippi Records on September 17, 2015. OLV-001 / MRP-097. Vinyl version available wherever fine records are sold.

Release page with streaming audio at Olvido Records website.

Digital download available at Olvido Records Bandcamp.