Giamaios Ioannis | Samos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Agathonisi, Samos
• Short biography

Ioannis Giamaios was born in Agathonisi, Samos. He is a professional musician and plays the violin. His musical influences were his grandfather, who was a choir singer, and his father who, as well as being an animal farmer, played the violin with his brother, Giorgos, in Agathonisi.

When he was 18, Ioannis Giamaios left for Athens, to study and learn to play the violin. During his stay in Athens, he began playing music on a professional basis, and collaborated with acclaimed musicians. He returned to Samos during the 90s, where he plays music with his brothers. On the island, they are known as “Giamaioi” or “Ta paidia apo to Agathonisi” [The guys from Agathonisi]. They regularly perform in the festivals held in Platanos and Pythagorio, as well as the festival of Aghios Penteleimonas in Agathonisi.

Ioannis Giamaios himself has performed in several of the villages of Samos, as well as other Aegean islands. On his performances off the island, he said: “Well, yes, we go. We often go to […], Fournoi, Ikaria, Patmos. The Dodecanese, mainly, not so much to Leros and Kalymnos, because the way they play is different, there.”

His repertoire is built around nisiotika [traditional island] songs. He admits that he prefers nisiotika to dimotika [rural folk]. In recent years, however, he has added certain local songs and tunes of the North-eastern Aegean. He also tries to enrich his repertoire by listening to records released by other musicians.

A characteristic of the current era is that, for a time, the violin had almost disappeared from the composition of music bands: “I don’t know, but it was gone. All the kykladitika [songs from the Cyclades] that we play at the festivals these days, they didn’t exist. [They played] a lot of laika [urban folk] in Samos, laika. In the past, they say, there was a great tradition, with violins, with clarinets, that sort of thing. The last ones to play the violin were the Kaltakides [a local band]. They were the last.” Speaking of the response of audiences to nisiotika songs, he claims: “In the last few years, people have become more open to nisiotika. The welcome them, they laugh, they enjoy themselves.” He stresses the presence of women in celebrations in Agathonisi. Women used to go to local events with their families, and lead the dance. On the musicians of Agathonisi, and their relationship with songs of the nisiotika tradition, he said: “Of course. Especially in Agathonisi. Especially in Agathonisi, this kind of music, the nisiotika. Because they listen to them all the time, they listen to nothing else, so they pick it up very easily.”