Kaliopi & The Blues Messengers – Blues For Minnie


Kaliopi Stavropoulos is an Australian-based musician from Greece. Her love for Mississippi Delta blues is evident as she pays homage to the great Memphis Minnie on her debut album with her band, The Blues Messengers. Having released some singles and an EP, this collection of ten songs, with seven cuts from from Minnie’s catalog, showcases Kaliopi and her band.

The Blues Messengers are Kaliopi Stavropoulos lead vocals and guitar, Connor O'Neil on bass, Chris Schurmann on double bass, Lisette Payet on keys and backing vocals, Tony Wheeler and Nick Pearce on clarinet; Les Oldman on drums and  percussion and backing vocals, and Wayne Albury on saxophone. They mix Delta blues, jug band bass, and Dixieland piano into a fun and solid sound.

She begins with the stinging rendition of “Black Cat Blues,” rife with double entendre. Kaliopi sings with passion as she howls and moans as she plays some sizzling guitar. We also get a raucous piano solo and some nice clarinet filling in. “Kissing In The Dark” is next with a nice little guitar intro. The song is full of forbidden love and all sorts of other stuff that was highly scandalous back in the day.

Kaliopi does her own “Messin’ With The Blues,” a slower tempo-ed piece with some nice guitar and thoughtful piano and clarinet. It’s a cool cut that hearkens back to earlier times. “Hoodoo Lady”  follows, a bouncing tune with a slick vibe. The song shuffles along sweetly as the band drives this tune sweetly.

“When The Levee Breaks” is a jumping cut that is reinforced by climate change and floods in her home of Australia a couple of years ago. The clarinet offers a lilted response to the lead vocals and the piano solo is jumping and cool. The band takes it home with hand claps and a good ending as the guitar picks out a few licks to finish up. The second original is “Troublin’ Blues,” a song that highlights the current economic conditions. Kaliopi sings with anger and emotion as she laments her financial status. She plays some great licks on guitar, too.

Minnie’s “Dirty Mother Fur Ya” follows as Kaliopi and company jump and swing through this one. More tasty guitar licks and impassioned, vengeful vocals are featured here along with another good piano solo. Then it’s “Hate To See The Evenin’ Sun Go Down” with call and response and acapella singing as the band claps to keep time for a minute and half. The band then comes and continues the song of struggles and oppression.

“Me & My Chauffeur Blues” is next with some great resonator guitar, piano and clarinet. She rejects her chauffeur and subjects him to a violent demise so she can drive herself around. The album concludes with Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman,” a song of mystical and female power. Kaliopi’s guitar rings and the band lays down a sweet groove as Stavropoulos once again sings with passion.

This is a nice first effort for Kaliopi and her band mates. They have a solid sound and they are tight as they give the listener an old-time sounding set of tunes done up with a fresh perspective. If you are a fan of down-home music, then give this a spin. It’s a down-home perspective delivered from the other side of the globe, and I think you’ll enjoy it!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.



Greg Phillips Dec 13, 2022 Blog 

Kaliopi & The Blues Messengers at ‘When the Levee Breaks’ video shoot 

Review: Colette Imison. Photos: Jason Rosewarne 

George Lane in St Kilda was the perfect venue chosen by Kaliopi and The Blues Messengers to launch their new single ‘When the Levee Breaks’ on Saturday 10th December. Built in 1857, the ambience of the delicately lit room genuinely took you back to the early 1900’s and back to an era where one of the worlds most prominent ladies of blues ‘Memphis Minnie’ (Lizzie Douglas) took to the stage in a time when woman supposedly had their ‘place’. 

Legend has it that Memphis Minnie was the first woman to take an electric guitar to the stage, where she wanted to drown out the chatter of the crowds and bring all focus onto her music and words. A staunch feminist, who refused to conform to the expectations of ‘well-behaved’ ladies, found Memphis Minnie become a role model to many ‘strong-women’ of the day and continues to be nearly 100 years later. 

‘When the Levee Breaks’ is a cover originally penned by Memphis Minnie in 1929 in response to the most destructive flood in U.S history, the Great Mississippi Floods of 1927. Many may recognise the title, as it was also covered and re-worked by Led Zeppelin in 1971. 

A Tribute To Memphis Minnie and Women of Blues, the matinee performance started with the premier of the ‘When the Levee Breaks’ music video, which was directed by Demetra Giannakopoulos. 

Given climate change and the recent floods the east coast of Australia has endured over the past few years, Kaliopi was inspired to reinvent the track together with her 5 piece band – The Blues Messengers. 

Comprising of: 
Lead Vocals/Electric Guitar – Kaliopi Stravropoulos 
Keyboard/Backing Vocals: Lisette Payet 
Double Bass: Ruth Robertson 
Clarinet/Backing Vocals: Darren Hutton 
Drums: Les Oldman 

Check out the fab new video below from Kaliopi and The Blues Messengers for their new single ‘When the Levee Breaks’ 

The video captures the impact of floods and climate change, where the bands own take on the track finds a hint of the sounds of Dixieland music, which was popular with musicians in Chicago, where ironically Memphis Minnie established herself as a musician. 

The lyrics truly brings to the forefront the impacts of flood and climate change and the affects endured by those caught in the chaos. 
‘If it keeps on raining, levee’s going to break 
And the water gonna come and have no place to stay. 
If it keeps on raining, levee’s going to break 
And all these people’ll have no place to stay’. 

Kaliopi and The Blues Messengers are a relatively newly formed ensemble who debuted at the Glenmaggie Blues and Roots Festival in early 2022. 

Briefly chatting to Kaliopi, she spoke about her personal and musical journey, where she weathered many personal storms during a period where rock music was predominant in her life. 

Having worked with an array of seasoned musicians in Australia, Asia, Europe and the U.S.A, Kaliopi found herself travelling to her motherland of Greece, where she was privileged to perform with some of Greece’s finest musicians and where she also found a connection to the strength of women on the island where her mother was born. 

This in turn found her exploring Greek Blues Music, performing with Greek Rembetika and Smyrnaika musicians, where she states she was introduced to scales that were reminiscent of traditional blues. 

Akin to an epiphany, Kaliopi states that she finally found a style of music that spoke to her, where blues had the ability to allow her to find herself and free to BE. 

Having graduated from the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Societies ‘Women in Blues Program’ and further studies, Kaliopi credits president of the MBAS ‘John Durr’ to be a notable mentor in her blues journey. 

Embracing blues music found Kaliopi release an album ‘Love, Loss and Mental Health’ (40 Year Compilation) in 2018. 

Fast forwarded to 2022, Kaliopi is joined by The Blues Messengers, whom together are doing just that. Playing the blues with a strong message. 

The band started off with a silky version of Koko Taylor’s (1975) Voodoo Woman, where Kaliopi’s smooth guitar picking on her Gibson takes you in, finding her strong raw growling vocals casting a spell on you instantly. 

Covering a number of Memphis Minnie tracks throughout the afternoon, including launched single ‘When the Levee Breaks’, Kaliopi surmised the intent of each song before performing each track. 

The music wasn’t overdone and had an honest feel to it, where the listener was able to tap into the warm notes of the soothing clarinet, and the wispy sounds of the drum brushes sweeping on the snare and hi-hat. Surprisingly Ruth Robertson who traditionally plays guitar and is a vocalist, only started playing the Double Bass three years ago. One would never have known, as she played it so confidently. 

A stand out to everyone in the room was that every musician on that stage had a rapport with each other, where there was friendly banter, smiles and laughter between them. At one point you felt that Kaliopi and keyboardist Lisette Payet almost forget they had an audience, they were both so in the moment and connected in that moment, one couldn’t help but smile. 

Playing BB King’s ‘Why I sing the Blues’ found the band weave in the sounds of the Greek Blues. You couldn’t help feeling this song, knowing that Kaliopi’s experience with music in Greece found her at the very point of understanding ‘Why she plays the Blues’. 

Keen to hear some original pieces, George Lane were privileged to hear a piece written by Kaliopi called ‘Troublin’ Blues’. The essence of blues is that it is a vessel to communicate and to tell a story. 

It is healing and stripped raw. Listening to the words conveyed by Kaliopi throughout this show and hearing snippets of her own journey, finds me wanting to hear more of her own story through song. With hope that the healing she has found through the music of Memphis Minnie, can be replicated and healing to others in a similar fashion. 

This was indeed a marvellous tribute to Memphis Minnie and her works, with a strong emphasis regarding the importance of tackling climate change, embracing womanhood, strength and truth. 

You find yourself questioning whether much has changed for women the last 100 years. 

Relatable in a sense that although our journeys may be different, that song and music has the ability to resonate with us all and heal us. 

Voodoo Woman (Koko Taylor) 
Kissing in the Dark (Memphis Minnie) 
When the Levee Breaks (Memphis Minnie) 
Mother Fur Ya (Memphis Minnie) 
(I Hate to See the) Evening Sun Go Down (Memphis Minnie) 
Hoodoo Lady (Memphis Minnie) 
Black Cat Blues ( Memphis Minnie) 
Me and My Chauffeur (Memphis Minnie) 
Troublin’ Blues (Kaliopi) 
Why I sing the Blues (BB King) 
I’m A Woman (Koko Taylor) 
Got my Mojo Working (Etta James) 

Upcoming shows for Kaliopi and The Blues Messengers. 

Thursday Dec 15 
Humes Blues Club – Thornbury 

Friday Dec 30 
Beneath Driver Lane – Melbourne 

Sat 14 Jan 
The Blues Train – Queenscliff 

Kaliopi will also be sharing the stage with Geoff Achison and Jimi Hocking. 

Double Trouble Blues Sessions 
Sunday 18 December 
Ziggy Pops – St Kilda 

For ticket info visit: www.kaliopi.com.au

Kaliopi Stavropoulos sings the blues


by Con Panagos

1 December 2022

Georgina Tsolidis, a friend who shares my keenness for old school African-American blues and Rn’B music, recently put me on to blueswoman Kaliopi.

Kaliopi is a Melbourne-based Greek-Australian Blues Artist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter who draws on the great blues tradition and the powerful blues women who made it their own.

After having an initial look around Kaliopi’s website, it didn’t take long for me to seek her out in real life. We were both in the audience for bluesman Matt Schofield’s St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall performance on November 25th. So I took the opportunity to bowl-up and introduce myself. I was delighted to find her unassuming, engaging and chatty. I have drawn on our subsequent discussions for this article.

Kaliopi and her band – the Blues Messengers – will soon launch the first single When the Levee Breaks and the video clip from their new studio album; and will be performing the album live at the launch. This will happen next Saturday December 10th from 3:00pm at the George Lane venue which is at 1 George Lane, St Kilda. Georgina and I will be there with our partners. To join us, a link to purchase tickets is on Kaliopi’s website


Kaliopi told me the recent Lismore floods inspired her to release ‘When the Levee Breaks’ as the first single from the new album. The flood-prone Mississippi Delta is home to the birth of the blues. Most readers will remember Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans in 2005. It caused over 1,800 fatalities and $125 billion in damage. It wasn’t so much the tropical cyclone that caused this catastrophe, it was the massive flooding from when the levees broke. 

Less well-known is the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. It was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States. More than 200,000 African-Americans were displaced from their homes along the Lower Mississippi River. To prevent future floods, the federal government built the world’s longest system of levees. Unfortunately, these levees did not hold-up to the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina 95 years later. 

Flooded streets and homes after Hurricane Ida moved through in August 2021, the second big disaster since 2005. Hard-hit LaPlace is squeezed between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. Photo: AAP via AP/Steve Helber 

Lizzie Douglas (1897–1973), better known as Memphis Minnie, was a blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter whose recording career lasted for over three decades. She recorded around 200 songs, one of the best known being When the Levee Breaks. 

When the Levee Breaks is a country blues song written and first recorded by Memphis Minnie in 1929. The lyrics reflect experiences during the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Readers of my generation may recall the tune was re-worked by English rock group Led Zeppelin as the last song on their untitled fourth album. Singer Robert Plant used many of Minnie’s original lyrics. 

Memphis Minnie. Photo: Memphis Minnie – When the Levee Breaks/YouTube 

Kaliopi says musically, discovering Smyrnaika and early Rebetika (now commonly referred to as the Greek Blues) drew her closer to the blues she’s playing now as she connects these exotic scales with the micro tones or ‘blue notes’ of the Mississippi Delta Blues. 

“I’ve always been a passionate advocate for the underdog, marginalised peoples, women’s rights and so-called obligatory roles; so mixing that with issues of subordination, slavery and displacement resonates with gut wrenching feelings, ignites improvisation and hollering that’s healing in the blues…” she says. The lyrics of these traditional tunes draw on timeless metaphors that resonate to this day – such as climate change. Specifically, within the Memphis Minnie repertoire Kaliopi’s band have recorded, it includes themes around domestic violence, substance abuse, systemic corruption, prostitution, discrimination, and subordination. 

“Greek women naturally celebrate their blend of androgynous femininity, and our material is bathed in liberating strong women, particularly through the material of Memphis Minnie ‘heeded as a woman of absolute divergence’ – during a culture where that was not just brave but fatally dangerous!”, says Kaliopi. 

If you can, join us at George Lane next Saturday afternoon to see Kaliopi and the Blues Messengers launch their new single ‘When the Levee Breaks’.

Music InterviewsMusic News 



written by The Partae July 18, 2022

When did your musical taste and performances begin to gravitate towards the blues? 

My release of an 18-track compilation album ‘Love Loss & Mental Health’ in 2018 marked the end of a significant period for me. Specifically, I felt that style of music seemed unnecessarily complicated which detracted from the real essence of what I was trying to express. I began digging deep within my soul and connected with my Greek roots! This included frequent travel to Greece, where I began to jam and perform with some national and international touring Greek Rebetika and Smyrnaika (pre-1930) musicians who introduced me to some exotic scales that were not too far removed from the blues. 

(and related to that): 

As your early work was in the rock arena, was there always an underlying attraction to the blues genre or did that come later? 

I actually started out playing blues rock progressions in clubs as a teenager, and before that folk or roots progressions in a community bush band. That then developed to listening to a vast range of rock from Bowie, Lou Reed and Elvis to Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. I’ve always had a vast eclectic taste in music explorations but was always drawn to a pure connection with the blues. 

How, if at all, has your interest in the blues been shaped by your Greek heritage? 

The exotic scales and compound time in Greek music were my first experience of music within my mother’s womb and I believe have brought me back to the blues and shuffle feels. The wailing vocal Greek Rebetika improvisation also connect me to the blues. My mother was from the Dodecanese Islands and my father from the Peloponnese. Particularly the way a melody is expressed on the violin from the Greek isles and on a clarinet from the mainland strongly connect me with pre-WW blues music. 

You’ve said that Memphis Minnie has been a big influence – in what ways? 

I love Memphis Minnie for being a brave woman who played the first blues electric guitar to be heard over rowdy crowds. She also wrote and sang, in a very pure and simple honest way with halftime upbeat shuffles, and stories I resonate with (such as depression, domestic violence, suicide, climate change, and oppression). I think it’s just genius, and she influenced a world of blues and rock guitarists from Rosetta Tharpe to Chuck Berry. 

Is there anything you want to say about the role and status of women in the blues genre more generally? 

Both my mother and grandmother are Greek Islanders who came to Australia in the mid 50’s from a Matriarchal part of Greece -the Dodecanese on the Aegean Sea… Minnie was born around my Grandma ‘Kaliopi’s’ time, and Big Mamma Thornton, around my Mum ‘Fani’s time – 

I’ve always been very inspired by strong women! As attested to not only by my influences and lineage but by “the company I keep.” 

Minnie played a significant role in exposing and protesting against the patriarchal domination and subordination of women. This resonates with me to this day… , Some 50 years before the feminist movement of the 70’s, Memphis Minnie not only sang about the impoverished slavery of Black African Americans but also about domestic violence, corruption in the law, sexual liberation, forbidden sexual relationships – including same sex partners – depression and suicide, unprotected sex and backyard terminations. When we reflect on this we have to question just how much has changed, which increases our motivation to join the HERSTORY choir.