Singer-songwriter Demos Papadimas (guitar/vocals/harmonica/bouzouki) skillfully intertwines American roots music with Mediterranean influences. Based in Northeast Ohio, Papadimas cites among his influences Dylanesque balladry, Leonard Cohen’s latter day touring ensembles, and string-band revivalists such as Old Crow Medicine Show as well as Greek Rembetiko—the “Greek blues.”
Lyrically, this self-described "cynical optimist" infuses glimmers of hope in his often world-weary lyrics. When Papadimas sings, "Somehow I've dodged so many evil eyes, that I ain't got religion is really just a surprise" he shares his sense of bemused wonder. Having lived on both sides of the Atlantic, Papadimas writes meditative travelogues that are often Guthrie-esque ramblings translated from the Dust Bowl to the Euro-Zone, from freight trains to bullet trains, and are perceptive companions to his rootsy musical approach.
Reviewing 2016’s Waiting in No Depression, Jason D. Hamad coined the term “Greco-Americana” for Papadimas’ style, considering it “a musical portmanteau inspired by his own background.” Further discussing Papadimas’ craft, Hamad mentions “wistful, philosophical lyrics” which “continue to generate songs that keep the listener engaged and thinking.”
Papadimas' latest release is titled The "Lucky You" EP and was recorded by Pete Drivere at Ampreon Recorder in Youngstown, OH. Critic John Gatta writes, “The musical strengths on the EP can be attributed to Papadimas’ band lineup. Drummer Ralph Rich, a mainstay since 2012, links up with bassist Corey Gray for a solid rhythmic foundation while Caitlin Hedge adds a down-home element on violin and Dave Lynn offers tasty guitar solos and ‘invaluable’ input on arrangements.”
“The lineup has developed into a true collaborative unit,” Papadimas said. “There is a shared understanding among the entire band about the direction of the material.”
Formed in 2009 originally under the name "The Disillusionists" by singer/songwriter (& former Cedars Lounge booking agent) Chris Rutushin on the promise of opening a show for The Click Clack Boom (Brooklyn) and Jordan DePaul & The Reputations (Youngstown) at Cedars Lounge in Youngstown, Ohio. "I love music but I was tired of hiding behind [booking] other bands", said Rutushin. "I was constantly surrounded by and being inspired by such talented friends and musicians and I always wanted to be a part of something bigger - brotherhood, a family, a band. I had tons of lyrics but no clue of how to really play guitar. The winter of 2008 was a very tough time for me. I was super broke but I had this guitar. It was all I could afford to do so I started writing tunes all bundled up in my freezing cold apartment."
Rutushin went on to recruit some of the best musicians in Youngstown, Ohio to overcome his stage fright and fulfill a long promise - to finally be in a band. He also got a thrill of a lifetime in the autumn of 2009 - he met one of his heroes, Fran Healy of the Post-Britpop band Travis at The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio after a show. Not only was he impressed by Fran's kindness, he was granted permission by Healy to "nick" a tune or two. "When I met him, he offered a handshake but I went in for a hug", Rutushin said with a laugh.
Band origins can be as much an adventure as the music, but who would have ever thought that 2 immigrants, one from India and one from Pakistan would get together and decide to write music? If that doesn't seem so far- fetched, throw in the fact that both immigrated to the US at a very young age yet they only recently met. And to really complicate things, both are practicing physicians with their own busy offices. Zafar Sheik, an ophthalmologist and Asif Khan, an allergist are fathers and husbands who never could have imagined a chance meeting at their kids' school function would result in writing, producing, recording, mixing and mastering songs all on their own. But that's exactly how Spy Convention became a songwriting duo.
Both play instruments, Zafar on mainly vocals and keyboards, and Asif playing the drums and guitar. Asif has a history in the music industry and played for NYC bands, Johnny Hi-Fi and Overlord (no, it's not metal). He tasted a bit of 'mild success,' videos on MTV, world tours, US tours, but never achieved the goal of many musicians: to be able to make music a career. Zafar comes from a musical family and his sister, a lawyer in LA, nearly made it to the top herself.
So what gives, and why bother with professional careers in tow? It is their love of music that drives them, albeit each coming from different ends of the pop/rock spectrum. Zafar loves alt-indie emo like The National and maybe has heard Rush songs. Asif cut his teeth on rock bands such as Rush, and has become a big fan of The National, Wolf Alice and new Alt/Indies bands. This dynamic makes for lots of ideas and definitely keeps them laughing. Dr. Khan muses, "We are approaching this with just a little apprehension but earnestness, with the goal of having fun and sharing our music."