Demos Papadimas takes own route through "Wilderness"

By John Benson

These days if you use the word Americana to describe your music, odds are Mumford & Sons will somehow sneak into the conversation.

For Demos Papadimas, a 2003 Howland High School graduate, his new album “Wanderin’ Through the Wilderness” is Americana but less like the zeitgeist banjo-fueled band and more like Old Crow Medicine and, even better, Bob Dylan.

“I play Americana, sort of folk rock-Americana with some Mediterranean influences here and there,” said Papadimas, who these days calls Warren home.

“Mostly it’s still a singer- songwriter’s album and that’s more apparent on the full-length than on the EP I put out at the end of 2011. Overall, on the new album there’s a lot of musical territory explored.”

Formerly of local act Smokestack Horizon, Papadimas (vocals, guitar and harmonica) left Northeast Ohio in 2010 and moved to New York City where he pursued music. He also recorded the EP and then later “Wanderin’ Through the Wilderness” in an Ithaca, N.Y., studio.

When Papadimas returned to Youngstown a year ago, he joined up with former Smokestack Horizon member Andre Ptichkin (upright bass) and added Sandi Quotson (violin) and Ralph Rich (drums) into the fold.

Compared to his Smokestack Horizon, which jumped around genre-wise, even tackling jazz-oriented grooves, his new material is more defined.

“The song ‘Barrier Doors’ is sort of a gypsy tango and it fuses some of the Mediterranean influences with sort of the American singer-songwriter perspective,” Papadimas said. “That’s probably one of the most danceable songs. And then there’s ‘If I Had Religion,’ which is sort of a Bob Dylan-esque ballad.”

With the album now out, Papadimas is looking ahead to a busy year that includes a number of shows this spring with Jones for Revival, as well as regional solo shows and even a mini tour including a Chicago date in the summer.

In talking to Papadimas, it’s obvious he’s not affected by the idea of returning back home after a nearly two-year stint in the Big Apple.

In fact, there’s no tail between his legs. You better believe he didn’t return a broken man.

“No, I learned a lot with being away,” Papadimas said. “It was a good school in a way. It really opened my eyes to the whole music thing. You can really do it from anyplace. You have to get out there and play out of town shows, you can’t just live in a small area and do the same thing all of the time but I think you can really do it from anywhere.”

And right now, that anywhere for Papadimas is Youngstown.

He laughed, “I guess so.”

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