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Xylouris White is George playing Cretan lute and Jim playing drums. They first met in Melbourne, come from different musical backgrounds yet have much in common which is evident when they get together and play live or record in the studio. George comes from a lively tradition and Jim, now based in New York has been playing in his own unmistakable style for decades with Venom P. Stinger, Dirty Three, The Double, Springtime, Bill Callahan and Marisa Anderson to name a few. They work closely with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto as producer of all their albums: Goats, Black Peak, Mother, The Sisypheans and The Forest In Me.
There are drummers and there are drummers. And then there is Jim White. Having first commanded international attention in the mid-1990s with the acclaimed Australian instrumental trio Dirty Three, the New York-based virtuoso is now the go-to guy for alt-A-list vocalists with collaboration in mind. Those who’ve worked with him – and all those he’s mesmerized as he plays – testify to his deft way with a rhythm, a downbeat, a jazz-fuelled wig out.
His is a unique playing style forged in the then isolated Melbourne; a style that can sound like a full band one moment, and something stark and beautiful the next.
PJ Harvey has said there is ballet in White’s light, precise touch. Will Oldham once remarked on White’s ability to dismantle a song, bit by bit, and rebuild it with his parts incorporated. The likes of Smog, Nick Cave, White Magic, Bonnie Prince Billy and Cat Power all know that there’s more to White’s drumming than mere accompaniment. His intuitive beats and singular approach have complimented the repertoire of the iconic Cretan lyra player, Psarantonis, and created sparks in his collaborations with the Cretan lute player George Xylouris. Whoever White is playing with, he is right there, present in the most inspirational sense.
With a career this long and varied, credits are too numerous to list. There have been projects with filmmakers, collaborations with visual artists; and an album of duets with the singer Nina Nastasia. A founding member of the now-defunct Australian avante-rock outfit Venom P-Stinger, White has curated the leftfield UK music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties. In his spare moments, he’s drumming. White never rests on his laurels.
George Xylouris grew up in a musical village in Crete. He is self taught and learnt playing with friends from a young age in the village square, starting with mandolin and progressing to lyra and lute. He accompanied his father, Psarandonis, from the age of 11 at festivals, weddings and venues around Greece and Europe and further abroad. At that time he started working with Labyrinth, a musical organisation established by Ross Daly, based in music of the Eastern Mediterranean, and continues teaching lute with Labyrinth running workshops and joins for performances from time to time. He also teaches privately by arrangement.
He lived in Melbourne for eight years where he formed the band ‘Xylouris Ensemble’ with musicians from diverse backgrounds who created a sound of varied origins. During that time they had an enthusiastic diverse following. He also took part in the local scene with the likes of ‘Dirty Three’, eventually leading to the formation of Xylouris White.
He moved back to Crete where he returned to working in his traditional setting. Throughout that time he also played and recorded with musicians from all over Greece such as Ross Daly, Giannis Aggelakas, Nikos Veliotis, Stelios Petrakis, Achilleas Persidis and others. He has developed his characteristically versatile style over many years and has an all age diverse faithful following. His sound whilst traditional suits many contexts. He has been an inspiration to a younger generation of Cretan lute players.
Since 2013 he has been working with Brooklyn based Australian drummer Jim White in the band Xylouris White, who have released four albums to date with a fifth due to be released on Drag City early 2023, all produced by Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto. They have toured the world extensively taking part in festivals of all styles.
He had the pleasure of joining Jem Cohen’s ‘Gravity Hill’ playing live to Jem’s films with Jim White, Guy Picciotto, DJ Rupture at ‘Syros International Film Festival’, toured with ‘God Speed You! Black Emperor’, Marisa Anderson, Emmett Kelly, Bonnie Prince Billy, opened for PJ Harvey, Bill Callahan, Jonathan Richman, and many more. Most recently he performed ‘Rameau and the Greeks’ with Nikos, Adonis, and Apollonia Xylouris and the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble at Megaro Mousikis in Athens. He has been recording music for films with Jim and alone which are soon to be released.
Marisol Zilske, playing a solo set this time around, is aiming for a simpler sound than she has before. While figuring out what she wants from her originals, she’s been testing the waters with heartier vocals, while remaining familiar to the rhythm guitar.
Doors are at 7pm and music will start at 8. The show is all ages and seating is limited!