Paralis Nikos | Lesvos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Eressos, Lesvos
• Short biography

Nikos Paralis was born in Eressos, Lesvos, on the 24th of January 1931. He was a practical musician and singer, who played the mandolin, the violin and the oud. He also worked in agriculture, helping out his father on the land they owned or rented.

Nikos Paralis began learning the oud at age 14, when he took lessons from Giorgos Zabaras, a musician from Eressos. Around the late 1940s, he continued his lessons with a new teacher, Pavlos Karatzas. Kostas Metaxas, a practical musician, also from Eressos, taught him to play the violin.

He began performing on a professional basis alongside his teacher, Kostas Metaxas, who played the clarinet, and his brother, who played the santouri. During the 1950s, he worked with various local musicians, because of the instrument he played. As he said himself: “There were old ones [musicians] and we used to go, I remember the old ones. They’re all dead now. There were two bands [at the festival of Panagia – the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – in Gavatha]. They took me along, because I played the violin. They had no one else playing the violin, so they hired me, for every festival that took place.”

From 1961 to 1967, he migrated to Athens, where he worked as a musician and singer in various clubs. After 1967, when returned to Eressos, and until 2000, he collaborated with other musicians from his village, such as Kostas Gnisios, who played the accordion, his brother Vasilis Paralis, who played the santouri, Nikos “Agas”, who played the clarinet, and Stelios Kotsinis, who played the oud.

He often, however, sang and played the oud on his own, in parties and other entertainment events, something he still does to this day [2007].

He also worked with several other musicians, such as Giannis Thanos [violin and accordion], and Nikos Kalaitzis, or “Bidagialas”, from Mesotopos [violin and santouri], especially when he performed outside the local area of Eressos. While on these tours, during the 1960s and 1970s, he collaborated with a number of female singers, who were selected by Giannis Thanos or the owner of the club they were playing at.

Nikos Paralis played many tunes and songs from Asia Minor, as he had heard or learned them from the local older generation musicians. He played and sang syrta, like “Mi me stelneis mana stin Ameriki”, and “Kanarini kitrino”, ballous, heavy zeibekika, like the “Aivaliotiko”, aptalika, smyrneika [songs from Smyrna], such as “Pali tha pio mia oka”, karsilamades, and “table” songs, like “Pos se pan ta mavra roucha”, etc. He also sings amanedes [traditional vocal songs], which he accompanies on the oud: “In those days [1940s-50s], there were only a few songs, not many like there are now. A song would come out every one, two, three years, five years, and each year I’d learn one, two, five, ten songs… I like the old songs a lot, the first ones. When I learned them, at first, I learned all the old songs as a kid. Only a few songs came out then, it wasn’t like it is now. When a song came out, it stayed around for years, those songs are still around today. You learned them well, whether you liked it or not, you played them over and over again…”