CHICAGO, IL – When it’s cold outside, sweet melodies from Greece warm the heart. Nearly 550 members of the Greek-American community came together last month to hear Nikos Kourkoulis and his featured band perform energizing tunes.
Part of his North American tour, Chicago was Kourkoulis’ last stop after consecutive shows in various U.S. cities: New York, Boston, Baltimore, Montreal, Toronto, Cleveland, and Charlotte.
“This time it was my choice to go to places we had not been before, like Cleveland and Charlotte, because usually the artists come from Greece and go to the big cities,” Kourkoulis said. “But this time it was a good chance for me to realize that all of the Greek communities there are thirsty for these shows,” he added.
A Greek Music Live production, the musical show was an upbeat one, featuring live bouzouki, klarino, and electric guitar playing to Kourkoulis’ original hits as well as traditional festival and wedding songs that got the crowd out of their seats dancing.
“There was a great mix of laiki mousiki to Cretan and Pontian music,” said Greek Music Live’s George Katerinis. “People danced all night.”
Kourkoulis, who returned to Chicago five years after his last visit with Kelly Kelekidou, was this time accompanied by guest performers Giannis Kritikos and Babbis Kemanatzides.
“It’s not so much about making money in these shows, but more about having a good time,” Kourkoulis said. “What we really want to promote in our shows is to just have fun.”
The artist pointed out how times have changed regarding shows abroad since the beginning of his career, suggesting that Greek music can and should be enjoyed by a more global audience.
“Greek music needs to evolve to stay popular,” Kourkoulis said. “We need to take it one step further with the shows and make them inclusive of a broader audience,” he added.
Having lived in Australia for the last two years, Kourkoulis plans to release a new album in the upcoming months, one he hopes will please his fans and the younger crowd – today’s challenge for any industry.
“The older generations of Greeks used to put together these shows with artists all the time, and it was a way for the community to stay close and for people to meet and come together,” he recalls.
Through his passion for music, Kourkoulis hopes to bring the Greek community closer to their roots while introducing Greek customs to their non-Greek friends.
“Many people thank me because they say their kids don’t speak Greek but they love my songs. That’s really important for me. I really appreciate that,” he said. “What I dream of is to make these songs and these performances more inclusive, not only for many generations of Greeks, but for others as well,” he added. Highlighting traditional Greek music and dance, the traveling tour delighted thousands across North America.
“Nikos Kourkoulis has always been one of my favorite Greek singers,” said Yiota Konstas, a student at DePaul University. “The night ended up with great memories and sore feet from dancing the night away to his “kefi”-filled songs,” she added.