New Papadimas album shows ‘The Way Up’

Demos Papadimas’ music always has been influenced by his Greek heritage and Bob Dylan.

Think of his new album, “The Way Up,” as his Demos goes electric moment.

Those Mediterranean influences still are there — Papadimas plays bouzouki on about half of the track — but there’s less of a folk / Americana sound and more electric guitar than on his previous releases.

The Howland native will celebrate the release of the album with a performance at 10 a.m. today at Record Connection in McKinley Heights for Black Friday Record Store Day followed by an official CD release show Saturday at Westside Bowl in Youngstown.

Papadimas started work on the record in August 2019, but the downtime caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to many of the songs evolving while working with Pete Drivere at his Youngstown studio, Ampreon Recorder.

“We just threw any kind of timeline out the window,” Papadimas said. “That actually turned out for the best. We re-examined things, me and Pete kind of as a team working on this and calling in various band members and session guys … A lot of studio time allowed me to reflect on the songs and the instrumentation.”

In the past, Papadimas would play new songs live with his band, and the arrangements would be more set when he arrived in the studio. With no live gigs, that didn’t happen with some of these songs.

“Clear Path” is one of the ones that evolved the most in the studio.

“It began more as a bouzouki song,” Papadimas said. “I wrote it with acoustic guitar and bouzouki in mind, and by the end it became more of a rock song with a pretty driving beat and some reverb-drenched guitars.”

They doubled many of the instrumental parts — even the acoustic instruments like Papadimas’ bouzouki and Caitlin Hedge’s violin — and they fed the bouzouki through a Fender guitar amplifier.

Papadimas credited Drivere for much of the musical experimentation.

“I consider Pete to be a musical mentor,” he said. “His knowledge of equipment and gear is far beyond mine. He pushed me in the right direction with different guitars and insights. Arrangements, tempos, he helped me quite a bit with all that stuff.”

“Other Side of Paradise” is another song that benefited from additional time and experimentation and they added more and more instruments to the arrangement.

The songs will be more stripped down when Papadimas performs them live with his longtime drummer Ralph Rich and bass player Andre Ptichkin. For Saturday’s Westside Bowl show, they’ll be joined by Spirit of the Bear keyboard player Danny Svenson.

“The Way Up” is available on all of the streaming services, and the CD version will be available at Record Connection and live shows. Papadimas eventually plans to release it on vinyl like his 2016 album, “Waiting.”

The title track for “The Way Up” was the last one recorded for the album. Papadimas said Ptichkin accidentally came up with the title. They were rehearsing another song, and Ptichkin called it “The Way Up.”

“That’s a great title,” Papadimas said.” I had pretty much all the lyrics except for the main line, and we ended up calling the whole record that. It’s a way of thinking about things, being on the way back up. It’s kind of a positive vibe without being too cheesy. It sums up how the times feel right now. We’re on the way back up but slowly and cautiously.”

If you go …

WHO: Demos Papadimas and Ray Flanagan

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Westside Bowl, 2617 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown

HOW MUCH: $10. Advance tickets are available through Eventbrite.


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