Being a part of the blossoming roots movement doesn't interest singer songwriter Demos Papadimas, but moving the music toward new directions that relate to the sound he hears in his head does.
Discovering what that is took the 2003 Howland High School graduate through the pop punk world during his teens, solo acoustic performances in college, work in France and, most importantly, a voracious appetite for listening that spanned the early country and blues of the 20th century through contemporary acts rewriting the rules that defined music traditions.
"I was always interested in playing music. I was 4 years old when I had my first toy guitar and made family members pretend they were playing instruments, and they were my band and I was telling them what to do," said Papadimas.
On his self-titled EP and upcoming full-length album, due in February, he's merged his American homeland and his Greek heritage by using resonator guitar and harmonica with bouzouki and subtle Mediterranean rhythms.
Another recording session took place at Youngstown's Ampreon Studio and can be heard on his website, www.demospapadimas.com.
"I used to do straight up blues or folk and then something with a Greek influence on it. I feel that now I can combine all of that in my own synthesis and it's more my sound," he said.
If you go
WHO: Demos Papadimas, Blue Through Branches and Ralph Rich
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Cedars Lounge, 23 N. Hazel St., Youngstown
"I've got my own vision musically. Right now, I feel better than I have ever about it, especially with this new record coming out. I finally feel like I got the sound I always wanted."
The discussion of his music occurred a day before he returned to Electric Wilburland Studios near Ithaca, New York to work on overdubs and final mixes for the album.
A preview of that release occurs when Papadimas leads his three-piece band - Andre Ptichkin (upright bass), Sandi Quotson (violin) and Ralph Rich (drums) - this Saturday at Cedar Lounge.
He also credits two moments in 1999 that inspired him to follow what feels like his true musical path. Within a three-day span he met the Ramones at a record-release signing in New York and attended his first Bob Dylan concert. "It defined my interest in mixing somewhat unrelated styles of music.
"The Dylan concert was the summer tour he did with Paul Simon that year. Hearing songs like 'Cocaine Blues' done live by Dylan really made me want to dig into the roots of American folk music and interpret it with a youthful approach."
The opening track on the EP bears the influence of mid-'60s Dylan while the other numbers show a deft mix of the singer songwriter approach with Greek and back porch ramble elements. He even offers his own interpretation of "Cocaine."
Teaching English in France three years ago gave him the free time to reflect on the direction of his songwriting. "That was a turning point for me because I was out of my element and thinking about life, things I wanted to do." The seclusion of a being in a small town there allowed him to develop a stronger concentration on melodies and his "cynical optimist" lyrical viewpoint.
Growing up on a diet of Dylan, Neil Young, the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Papadimas incorporated what he learned from those acts with the Mediterranean elements found in Leonard Cohen's recent live ensembles as well as newer tradition-breaking groups.
He credits Old Crow Medicine Show's blend of foot-stompin' bluegrass with a rock 'n' roll attitude for influencing his approach.
"This is where I see myself, in line with these guys. They're expressing what I'm feeling, the whole idea of being young and jumping back into the roots and making something new out of that."