From Iberia on the western shores to Lebanon on the east, the Mediterranean region represents a confluence of cultures that have fought and loved, traded and shared for time immemorial. West to east the area embraces the music of flamenco guitar and Greek bouzouki, north to south of timbres Latin and Arabic.
A smorgasbord of these sounds is offered at 8 p.m. tomorrow when the Toronto-based guitarist Pavlo and his five-piece ensemble performs at the Owens Community College Center for Fine and Performing Arts.
A Canadian of Greek ancestry, Pavlo goes by his first name only. That saves his fans the discouraging task of trying to pronounce his family name, Simtikidis. That was one of many times in his career that Pavlo has cut to the quick in order to build a future.
A guitar riff from Pavlo's song "Fantasia" was looped 27 times without permission on the hit "Fiesta" by rapper R. Kelly. Once the lawyers were called in, permission was granted. But not until Pavlo received 25 percent of the royalties, about $700,000 Canadian at last count.
Though he started his CD-selling career by marketing from a table at concerts, Pavlo found one of America's biggest markets when a Wal-Mart executive heard a concert and signed him to perform in-store concerts. Since then, he has earned two gold records.
Pavlo began playing guitar at age 10, studying classical and blues styles simultaneously.
"I was a typical young guy who loved rock and roll, who loved blues players. I loved it all," he said.
Rock and roll was an early favorite when he began to play out, but gradually the Greek roots asserted themselves. Pavlo became interested in traditional Greek melodic scales and riffs. He gravitated to the bouzouki, a long-necked pear-shaped lute (sort of like a giant mandolin) that is central to modern Greek music.
Pavlo characterized his band's style as Mediterranean music, though Mediterranean rock might be more accurate. The sound is rich in ethnic qualities but is driven by muscular beats and plenty of amplification.
Pavlo's sixth CD, titled "Irresistible," was released last week.
Guitarist Pavlo performs at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Owens Community College Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Tickets are $16, $10 for students. Information: 567-661-2787.
Contact Steven Cornelius at: