Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Burlap to Cashmere at the Bitter End

Pictured left to right: John Philippidis,
Theodore Pagano and Steven Delopoulos
Brooklyn-based vocalist/guitarist Steven Delopoulos envisioned Burlap to Cashmere in 1994 as a theater project for a college final exam. He then recruited his 14-year-old guitarist cousin, John Philippidis, and drummer Theodore Pagano. As more members joined, the ensemble was transformed into a band. Delopoulos wrote the songs and their music drew heavily on American folk and world music influences, especially Greek folk music. By 1995, Burlap to Cashmere had become a septet and started electrifying audiences regularly at the Bitter End. Exhausted, the band split in 2001. In 2005, Philippidis was nearly beaten to death in a road rage incident near his home; an extended hospitalization, which started with a month-long coma and ended with radical facial reconstructive surgery, ultimately sparked a band reunion. Burlap to Cashmere's third album, Freedom Souls, was released on June 23, 2015.

Returning to the Bitter End tonight, Burlap to Cashmere once again proved that its music is singular and unique. Imagine Cat Stevens verses, Simon & Garfunkel harmonic choruses and the instrumentation of the Gipsy Kings. The rollicking Mediterranean-influenced melodies and Philippidis' flamenco-styled guitar picking, particularly on acoustic guitar, were exotic to American ears. Delopoulos' introspectively poetic lyrics called the listener to higher places and hopes, as in "The Other Country" and the new single, "I Will Follow." Burlap to Cashmere's warm rootsy textures and passionate tightly-woven harmonies, given the intriguing Greek troubadour twist, were triumphant in spirit and sound. There is no other music quite like Burlap to Cashmere's music.

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