Q&A with Greece-based guitarist/singer Elias Zaikos of Blues Wire, one of Europe's best kept blues secrets

"Blues, art, culture, fate, daily routine, walking hand in hand, as long as you keep your senses alert you‘re getting closer to be a better human and a useful member of earth."

Elias Zaikos: Standing on the Blues Wire

In the words of blues prodigy Katie Webster, "Blues Wire are the best blues band in Europe and deserve to be heard by a wider audience". According to many who have ever witnessed a Blues Wire gig this band is one of Europe's best kept blues secrets and they should finally get the chance to be known to blues lovers around the world. The Blues Wire formed in 1983. A year later, they recorded the first blues album ever to be made by Greek musicians. Thousands of gigs in every kind of venue imaginable, scores of TV and radio show appearances in Greece as well as abroad and an enviable recording expertise have helped define their tight and recognizable sound, a mixture of passion and maturity that only comes with experience. Playing at festivals and clubs in countries like France, Italy, Austria and Hungary (among others) consolidated as well as increased their reputation which was even more amplified by numerous enthusiastic press reviews all around Europe.                                               (Elias Zaikos / Photo by Manos Georgiou)

Through the years Blues Wire have often backed up top blues artists such as Katie Webster, John Hammond, Larry Garner, Big Time Sarah, Carey and Lurrie Bell, Angela Brown, Louisiana Red & Al Copley, to mention a few, proving they can keep up with the best of them. They have also opened for legendary musicians like Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Albert King, Otis Rush and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Their skill and musicianship led them to memorable jam sessions with blues pioneers like Champion Jack Dupree, rising stars like Sherman Robertson and well-known British blues players like Dave Kelly & Doctor Feelgood. Blues Wire have provided the foundation of the Greek blues scene and the main inspiration for many younger musicians, while their leader Elias Zaikos (guitar, vocals) is considered the most important blues artist in the country. 2006 marks the release of their first – ever DVD entitled “Two Shows” capturing the band at its best, including many new original songs. Blues Wire are Elias Zaikos on guitar & Vocals; Sotiris Zisis on bass; and Niki Gourz on drums. In 2022, released their new 15 tracks live recorded album (from 2019), "Hobo Street", features original songs and covers of JJ Cale, Mike Bloomfield, Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon and others.

Interview by Michael Limnios                   Archive, Elias Zaikos, 2011 Interview

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you've taken?

Blues, art, culture, fate, daily routine, walking hand in hand, as long as you keep your senses alert you‘re getting closer to be a better human and a useful member of earth.

Where does your creative drive come from? How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started?

Love of music, internal need to express myself, sharing. Being a musician can be tough sometimes, at moments feels like heaven and hell day after day but in this case the poison is the antidote too. As a player, I’m always curious, long for new styles and ways to travel the fret board of a guitar, sometimes I miss the simplicity and naivety of my youth but I do believe I’ve become a better musician through time, mostly by editing and evaluating the notes I choose, what to play and what not.    

Why was the Blues never a part of the pop/popular music? What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

But it is! It sounds through most styles of modern or popular music, shines in hits from the past like Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” or progressive rock, disco and funky songs, jazz or whatever, almost everything has a part of the blues, except classical and some metal music. Technique and soul is a timeless debate, I respect each and everyone’s choice, there’s no magic recipe.                        (Elias Zaikos & Sotisis Zisis / Photo by Manos Georgiou)

"Being an artist can take you closer to feel like god, this is magnificent but can be dangerous, a trap. Follow and search your fingertips, see yourself as the falling snowflake." 

What moment changed your life the most? Are there any specific memories of your career that you would like to tell us about?!

Well, I guess the moment I grabbed a guitar and decided to be a musician, but that was pure instinct, not a conscious decision. The time I spent during my childhood at my small mountain village and the rural life really defined who I became.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Like Muddy Waters said, blues is a rolling stone; I feel happy that some good people recorded legends of the past and immortalized their music, as long as I can hear old records really don’t feel any lack, I just hope to be healthy and continue playing.

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Well, for most people a blues musician ain’t but a colorful entertainer, they don’t really care about your inner thoughts and agony, other than a stomping rhythm or a nice guitar riff they don’t pay much attention to lyrics or something, thus this music ain’t good friends with social media, it’s OK, the nature of the idiom was primarily to forget about troubles. Every aspect of art should be a reminder of our duty to make earth a better place to live, to defend equality and justice for all.


What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

We’re equal but not the same, be kind and don’t judge by yourself.

John Coltrane said "My music is the spiritual expression of what I am...". How do you understand the spirit, music, and the meaning of life?

Being an artist can take you closer to feel like god, this is magnificent but can be dangerous, a trap. Follow and search your fingertips, see yourself as the falling snowflake.

Blues Wire - Home

(Elias Zaikos & Niki Gourz / Photo by Manos Georgiou)

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