TRURO – Expect a musical tour of some exotic cultural backdrops when Pavlo plays the Marigold Cultural Centre Feb. 17.
The virtuoso guitarist started calling what he performs Mediterranean music – mainly because he used to get labels that didn't quite fit, such as flamenco, or rhumba-flamenco, Pavlo said in a recent telephone interview from his home in Toronto. He does play some flamenco – and loves it – but his music weaves a wide variety of the rich Mediterranean tapestry.
So does his new album, "Six String Blvd," officially launched Feb. 7, and drawing from his own Greek background, along with traditions from a cultural crossroads that has absorbed Latin rhythms and sounds ranging from southern Europe to the Middle East.
"I kind of feel like I've come full circle," he said of his ninth record release, "I feel these are some of the best songs I've written."
As ever, the music is guitar-based, but tracks on "Six String Blvd" also feature exotic blends that include sitar, guitarra, Arabic flute, ehru and baglama – along with the instruments brought to the mix by his regular band members: Greek bouzouki, bass and percussion.
Attendees of the annual Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso might have seen Pavlo there in July 2010, in the midst of touring with a guitar trio he'd assembled. That included musicians extraordinaire Oscar Lopez and former Triumph guitarist Rik Emmett, with the album they did together, "Trifecta," under their belts. Pavlo said that collaboration with two other guitarists he hugely admires was both a blast and a learning experience.
"It was like going to class. I was learning every single night."
He found it a huge boost to his solo career.
"With this album ("Six String Blvd") I think my playing is better."
Pavlo's traditional sounds were met with some skepticism by record company executives when he started out: they called it "too ethnic." But he persevered and has become one of the most successful independent artists in Canada, with two gold albums and having sold more than a half-million copies worldwide. He has a 2008 concert on DVD, "Pavlo: Mediterranean Nights," which also airs on PBS, Bravo and CBC Bold. He plays more than 150 shows a year and says along with the large shows he likes to include the smaller, more intimate venues, like the Marigold.
On another note, Pavlo is also involved in charities. He is North American spokesperson for Batten Disease Awareness. Batten disease is a rare and fatal degenerative brain disease that strikes children. He is also a spokesperson for World Vision and, through information booths set up at his shows, has helped more than 700 children to be sponsored.
The show at the Marigold will feature Pavlo and the core band he has toured and recorded with for a dozen years doing songs from the new album, old favourites, traditional songs and a lot of improvisation.
Tickets are available at the Marigold Cultural Centre box office. For more on Pavlo, his recordings and audio samples, go to www.pavlo.net.