Karavas Dimitris | Lesvos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Palaiochori, district of Plomari, Lesvos
• Short biography

Dimitris Karavas was born in 1934. He is a professional musician with a background in music theory. He plays the accordion and the harmonium.

His father, Poseidonas Divaris – Karavas (1901-1985) was born in Smyrna and settled in Palaiochori in 1922. He took several different jobs in Lesvos, Kavala and Thessaloniki, until he saved enough money to study music. He took his first violin lessons from barba-Stelios (“uncle Stelios” – no other details are known), a violinist from Asia Minor, who lived in Mytilini. He was also well known as a singer.

Other musicians in Dimitris’ family are his brothers, Giannis (accordion and harmonium) and Stratis (violin), and his son, Manolis, whom he had with his wife Pipitsa, daughter of Manolis Pantelelis, a violinist from Palaiochori.

Dimitris Karavas was first taught music in practice by his father, with whom he also worked while he lived on the island: “We were taught by a method my father had at the time and then, you didn’t go to school (a music conservatory) in those days, to learn properly. They taught us five notes, and had us singing in the clubs, and we began to play […]. We started with the accordion. There were no harmoniums […]. When my father came from Thessaloniki, he brought an accordion, after the war (World War II). It was one of the first accordions around […]. He brought it here, to the village, for the first time. We’d never seen an accordion, we thought this instrument was a whole orchestra in itself! […]. Listen, I said, it sounds like an orchestra… I must have been 7 or 8 years old.”

Due to financial difficulties, Dimitris Karavas migrated to Sidney, Australia, in 1951, to join his older brother, Giannis, who had been there since 1948. In Sidney, where he remained until 1971, he played music in nightclubs, while running a type of general store from the ground floor of his home. During that time, he collaborated with several Greek and foreign musicians, but seldom with his brother, Giannis, as they played the same instrument.

In the early 1970s, when he returned from Australia, he opened a club in Kiato: “I had a club in Kiato, Korinthia, at the time. A bouzoukadiko (bouzouki club). I had some big names playing down there. I had Lambrakis, I had Karasakis, Christopoulos worked with me for 2-3 years, I had – what was her name? – Perraki, I had many big names.” In Athens, he worked with numerous musicians, in various clubs, where he always played the harmonium. One of the professional collaborations he mentioned was that with Stelios Kazantzidis, the singer: “I’ve worked with musicians, I’ve worked with big names, I even worked with Kazantzidis, in the 70s.”