Levisianos Ioannis | Samos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Vathy, Samos
• Short biography

Ioannis Levisianos was born in 1931, in the village of Vathy, Samos. He learned to play the tsabouna and sing from a young age. He took his name from his grandfather, who came from Levisi in Asia Minor.

Ioannis Levisianos took up his father’s profession, animal farming, at the age of nine. He began playing music when he was around 13 years old, by observing the way the older generation local musicians played: “… the old timers, of course. That […] an old man, Kostas Chatzimichalis. Ah. They played there. They played […]. You can learn anything, if you really want to […]. Well, it’s not easy to learn the tsabouna. It’s a hard thing to do. You have to try on our own. Listen and take note. With your mind. There are o notes to this thing”.

He took part in musical events held during Carnival (Apokreies), as well as festivals in his local area: “When you played the tsabouna, ten or twenty people would get up. And the one at the front would tell the jokes. And the tsabouna followed the one who told the jokes.” On the economic conditions of his time, and the local entertainment events, he said: “We’d collect for the festival of Aghios Ioannis. So. All our money, all of it, a month’s wages, would be spent on the festival. And the next day, not even a cigarette. Chartoura [cash given to musicians] […] the drinks.”

Speaking of the local musical repertoire and influences, he said: “Over here, they, I mean we always had syrta. Some ‘Armenika’ [from Armenia], […], things like that […] Syrta. Syrta. Then […] the men would dance the anatolitika [Eastern songs]… Songs from Asia Minor. Heavy songs, good ones. Good ones […]. At the festivals? Depending on the mood the drunks were in […]. [On local musical influences:] From Asia Minor, from Asia Minor. I man, most people in Samos come from Asia Minor… They always used to dance zeibekika. Serious zeibekika. Great! Slow, nice, very nice! Nowadays, out of these youngsters, can anyone dance? […] Most people come from Asia Minor, around here.”

From the 1960s onwards, both the number of “tsabounierides” [tsabouna players] on the island’s music scene, and the frequency with which they take part in musical events, appear to have decreased. Ioannis Levisianos, however, has collaborated with Giamaios, the Kaltaki family, Xanthippos and Vangelis Kateris, and other acclaimed local musicians.