As most of you probably know by now, Greece is in trouble. Wild fires have ravaged a huge portion of the country. On Saturday, the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency. At least 59 people have died, there are no signs of the fires stopping and there is now an ongoing arson investigation. As a Greek patriot, living in America, with very little money and no Hellenic citizenship etc, I felt totally helpless to stop anything. It was eating me alive and I can't begin to put my feelings into words. After awhile, though, I came up with an idea and want to pass it along to you guys to see what you think. My friend Spiros knows many famous performers,, some who sing/play laika, some who work in the traditional style and some who do rebetika. My plan is to host a concert, both live and virtual, and have the proceeds go directly to helping Ellada. I was thinking that maybe even some of us who play instruments etc could perform or those who write papers could present a short one on something relevant, virtually either or in person. We might also give Arhiris Peristeris (the son of Spiros) a call and ask him if he'd be willing to talk for a few minutes (he loves to talk, so that part shouldn't be too difficult). He doesn't really have a huge interest in rebetika, though he'll probably have some interesting stories to tell us from his childhood. I know almost nothing about Dominikos Vamvakaris, and I highly doubt Stelios would get involved in this, even virtually, so I don't think we'll call him, though if you think it's worth a shot, I'll go for it. Spiros himself has amazing stories to tell about his days performing with many different people from the 60''s onward. Since Greek music might not be everyone's thing, and since I'm sending this to a few religious groups, I figured we could maybe also do something along the lines of a virtual ritual or just reading of hymns, stories etc. All of that would be done virtually and probably later or even the next day, so that it wouldn't interfeer with the secular stuff and/or turn those not interested in Hellenic Polytheism away. For those who do stay, it'll give us a chance to be together, to worship the gods and/or learn a little about ancient Greek culture and how some of it survives to this day. For those who don't, you'll still have done your part, you'll have enjoyed some great music in the process and you'll have earned my sincere gratitude.
But before any of this, we need to see who, among these performers that Spiros knows, is willing to donate their time for free. Then, I need to find a venue for this event. One of my friends suggested a place in Astoria New York. She said I should write to them to see if they would be willing to donate the use of their facility for a day or so. Then, I need to figure out how to do the virtual end of things. Should I just have this videoed and then charge for the dvd/tape or should I try to record it live. If the latter, then I need to find someone with the technical skills to do so and a free site that will host this. Finally, I need to insure that the money will really go to those who need it and not in someone's pocket. I was going to donate it to the Hellenic Red Cross, the military or some fire departments, but I've been told they can't always be trusted (no offence meant, since there are great people who work really hard in all of them). So I'm thinking of YSEE (a religious group in Greece) but I'm unsure if they'd be willing or able to take on this responsibility. (If anyone reading this is from YSEE or a similar group, please contact me to let me know one way or the other.) I was also thinking of contacting AHEPA to see if they'd be willing to help, at least with the secular end of things. Another idea that might work is to go directly to television, in which case I should probably contact Aktina Productions and host a sort of telethon (where people call in their donations) as the day goes on.
Anyway, this is all still in the planning stages, so any advice, comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, if you have faith in something, regardless of what it is, I ask that you pray for Greece, for the health of the people and for much needed rain.
Blessings to all,
Update I just heard that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is putting together an account where people can donate money to help those in need. So now I have a place to send the proceeds, but I don't know when the account is officially starting or where it can be found. I checked the Ministry with a translator and they didn't have anthing posted. Maybe someone here can clear it up.