As part of the inaugural Yockadot Poetics Theatre Project show, in 2006, Old Songs played at the Lyceum, and introduced new audiences to their versions of ancient Greek poetry set to "old-timey" American roots music.
The band covers a number of poets from the 7th through the 4th century B.C.E., and has gone deeply into Sappho and Alcman.
Here's a wonderful rendering of Sappho's "Anaktoria" Old Songs has up at PennSound:
For November 20th, Old Songs will go deeply into Hipponax; but I'll let Mark Jickling - also associated with Half Japanese - tell more:
Old Songs formed a decade ago with the idea of setting archaic Greek lyrics to old-time music. They have recorded over 100 poems and fragments, using their own translations. Many of these can be heard over the Internet at Penn Sounds, thanks to the University of Pennsylvania.
The band members are Liz Downing, Mark Jickling, and Chris Mason, all with roots in punk rock, mixed with everything else. For the Idylls performance, Liz will not be on hand, but Chris and Mark will be joined by David Brumbaugh and Rebby Sharp, incredibly talented multi-instrumentalists from the Charlottesville area.
They will play songs by Hipponax, an Ionian poet from the 6th century BC. His surviving poetry is satirical, abusive, scatological, pornographic, and firmly fixed in the gutter. Somehow, he gained a great reputation, and was quoted or name-checked by Aristophanes, Ovid, Horace, and others. Callimachus brought him back to life as a kind of zombie to sort out the Alexandrians who had strayed from the true path of poetic solidarity. There are distinct echoes of Hipponax in Rabelais, Villon, Rimbaud, and Nicanor Parra.
|Old Songs (photo by Cynthia Connolly)|
You can find more recordings of Old Songs on PennSound and find out more about the band at their website http://www.mindspring.com/~oldsongs/index.html
And for the November 20th Idylls show, I invite you to "Listen to Hipponax"!: