Antonas Apostolos | Lesvos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Mantamados, Lesvos
• Short biography

Apostolos Antonas was born in 1917. He is a practical musician and singer. He also worked in agriculture and animal farming, and for the Community of Mantamados, as a waste collection officer.

He learned to play the daouli in the early 1950s. Events he regularly performed at were: “Well, we went around, you know [with Gabriel Theofrastos, or “Giannos”], up and down to the festivals, Aghios Charalambis, Aghios Giannis, everywhere. There was cash in it, they hired us for weddings, they hired us for engagements, the two of us! We went to the festivals on our own, they asked us to villages […], to the Festival of Panagia, on August 15th [the holiday of The Assumption of the Virgin Mary] […]. In between, we’d do weddings, engagements, whatever there was, yes. There were no formal arrangements, it was just yes, come and play, the groom [would ask us], the groom, because they wanted music, you know? […].”

He has also performed in several cafés in Mantamados, as well as in Stypsi, Kleiou, Tsonia [the port of Kleiou] and Sykamia: “We’d go, we’d go to Stypsi, we’d go here, we’d go there, wherever there was a festival, we’d go. We went to Stypsi, for the festival, yes, for Panagia [the Assumption of the Virgin Mary], we went to Kleiou, to Tsonia, anyplace there was a festival, you know. There were others with us, too, we were modern musicians. We went to Kleiou on foot one time, what was it? Oh, yes! A festival, what’s the festival in Kleiou? For Aghia Triada [the Holy Trinity], we went and played over there. We went round all the festivals, you know? […]. Oh, in Sykamia we went to […], what’s it called, Aghios Kyrikas, we made good money over there, good money. [It was] Theofrastos [Gabriel or “Giannos”], Kostis [Georgoulidis, or “tis Evropis” – “of Europe”], me, and Simos [Koutzanidis].”

He stopped playing music in the late 50s – early 60s. He said: “There was a wedding in the village, and they rejected me, the bride a groom didn’t want a daouli. The daouli is a pre-war instrument, old, you know? They wanted to dance, but they didn’t want a daouli. Syrto, karsilamas, zeibekiko, all that, but they didn’t want the daouli, and they rejected me. Well, afterwards I got into a fight with the others. They sent me to learn music, you know? To become a modern musician. To do [learn to play] jazz [the drums], instead of the daouli. Because the daouli was popular in the past […].
[…]So at that wedding we went to, they said: ‘We don’t want a daouli’, around the neighbourhood. But at dawn, those who were at the wedding wanted to go around. This was in the old days, it was the custom to go round the village, to go from one house to the next, and collect treats and tips. They came and got me. Those who wanted, you now, those who wanted the daouli, they came and got me from the house. When the time came to split the cash, they wouldn’t include me in the profits from the night. You understand? They wouldn’t include me in the profits from the night. We split up, everyone went home, and there was just me left, let’s see what they’re going to do now! So I saw them, and they gave me a small share, ‘you’re not included in the night’s profits’, ‘I’m not included?’. Well, then he [Gabriel Theofrastos, or “Giannos”] sided with them, and pushed me aside, you understand? He wanted modern, too, yes, European music, you know? So it took my daouli and went home and I put it in a room, and that’s where it sits now, safe, as a memento. They wanted to sell it, but I didn’t give it to them, I left it sitting there. I never played again.”