Rebetiki Istoria is a leading Greek folk music ensemble specializing in rebetika - one of the most popular and controversial styles of Greek popular song. At times, the music was censored and its musicians ostracized, and at times it was lauded as the greatest expression of Greek music and culture.
Often characterized as the "blues of Greece," rebetika expresses the joys and hardship of life in Greek cities featuring the bouzouki, now the national instrument of Greece, and the complex improvisational Eastern modes and scales. For 35 years, Rebetiki Istoria has led the rebetiko revival, producing authentic rebetika performances reminiscent of the turn-of-the-century rebetika stars. Singer Pavlos Vassiliou is a leading contemporary rebetika performer and a master interpreter of the improvisational amanes and of a range of folk songs. UIS Ethnomusicology professor Yona Stamatis, who specializes in rebetika, plays violin and bouzouki with the band. The Rebetiki Istoria band welcomes audiences to join in on Greek folk dances led by the Springfield International Folk Dancers.