Dear Canada Blog #4 February 27th 2018: ‘il tour dei misteri magici italiani’
Buongiorno! Come sta?
Oh wait, we’re all friends here right? Let’s try that again.
Buongiorno! Come stai?
E io? Tutto bene, grazie.
So I slept a little longer today. Well actually I woke up around 5am but managed to fall back to sleep until about 8:30am and woke up again feeling well rested.
Why the Italian? Well I have been working with an app called Babel recently for about an hour a day and it reminds me of ........Well let’s see......mainly, I guess, that “Io amo L’Italia!” I LOVE ITALY! Seriously, I adore going there.
It’s definitely my favourite country to date, that I have ever visited and I am pretty confident that were I to visit somewhere that as yet, I have never been, it would be highly unlikely that it would top how I feel about ITALY.
The food, the fashion, the summer weather, the architecture, the history, the culture, again, the food, ooooooh, yes, THAT food, and of course the language. One doesn’t speak Italian, one sings it!! The romance within it’s texture simply rolls off the tongue with such artistry, that one cannot help but be smitten by it.
I first fell in love with Italy in 1986 when Glass Tiger went over but my experience was limited primarily to radio and television stations and of course restaurants. My view of the architecture was almost always from the back of a taxi or limo in between trips to those stations but it was in the restaurants that I fell in love with the food and the language. There is NOTHING quite like a jam-packed European restaurant, with a waiter fluent in about “six” languages, handling dozens of travellers all at once, and the noise and the hustle and bustle of it all.....”meraviglioso!”
Fast forward a whole bunch of years and I am asked by a small-time promoter from Italy to come over for gigs; “Alaaaaan, he says in broken English. Come over to Eeetaly and I maka u eeee BIGGGG A STAAAA!” His name was Tony, and he was about to become a major character in my life for the next few months.
I loved the idea of it all, but when he suggested that I bring my entire band, I tried in vain to talk him out of that and suggested he just bring me over first to test the waters, then, if successful, and only then, would it make more sense to bring the rest of the group over. But no, he wouldn’t hear of it and so off we went, as a band, to begin what was to become an Italian~Beatles version of ‘il tour dei misteri magici italiani’ 😱😱😱😱
Six weeks...six weeks we followed him around like the “Pied Piper of Panni!” and how many gigs did we do? ........one. Yup, that’s right, one gig and even that one carried drama and hilarity with it. We were perched on top of a mountain, high up in the small commune of Panni, in the province of Foggia, a region of southeast Italy. Now those of you old enough to be familiar with the ‘Godfather’ movies, just think of all the bits that included Don Corleone going back to the old country as a young man. Think of that, and then dial it to 10!! This was “old” Italy, in all of her glory. Really, really, REALLY, old Italy. Old ladies with black headscarves with their stockings rolled down to their ankles, walking their donkeys along dirt roads each of which were carrying bales of hay on their backs. ( The donkeys that is, not the old ladies). The men seemed to sit around all day, chatting, not working, drinking cappuccino while mentally preparing for their siesta time, which ran from about 2pm until they woke up again.
One gig, just one.
The gear that arrived just prior to siesta was gear that was from the U.S. meaning all of the connections were not compatible with the European ones. Joe ( our genius sound tech) gathered up a bunch of kids and had them go to their homes and steal their mama’s kettles, lamps, hairdryers etc anything electrical they could lay their hands on and bring them to him. He then proceed to cut the plugs off of them and of course cut the plugs off the American cables as well and he starting splicing everything together. It worked. Man, did it work. It worked so well that when we opened up with HEALING HANDS as our first song and we hit that first power chord, we heard an almighty,”MAMA MIA!!!” And old men fainted, women screamed and ran to their homes to board themselves in. Donkeys “Hee Hawed!” all the way down the mountain. You couldn’t have made this shit up. It was like the alien craft had landed and we were here for them, to take them back on the mother-ship to cook Italian food for us back on planet Rock’n’Roll.
But something amazing happened.
As always the power of music somehow, some way, always prevails and......the kids stayed. The kids were riveted. For the next 90minutes, in the piazza of this ancient little town, on top of a mountain, under the night sky with the stars as our light show......everything was perfect.
I could tell you a hundred stories from this wacky trip, in fact I could write a book on it but that is when I fell in love with Italy. This trip cost me a fortune. I had five guys with me all expecting wages, all needing roomed and fed. When it came time to get home we were all pretty desperate and the only flights I could get for everyone were First Class ones.....
Six weeks one gig.
But you know what?
I wouldn’t change a thing. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t change a single thing, even if I was told,”You’ll only get one wacky gig in six weeks.” I would do it all over again.
After my Italian lesson and went for a little walk in this town of Sidney, BC. here on beautiful, Vancouver Island. Quiet, quaint, somewhat sleepy, friendly, it’s lovely. To say it feels like a throwback to the 50’s and 60’s would be an understatement. During my walk a fire truck started up its siren and sped up and everyone stopped like it was a scene from “The Stepford Wives” all kind of riveted and robotic as the “steel beast that makes noise” made its way through town.
I passed a small cafe/diner on the corner called The Third Street Cafe and when I looked in the window, there were the lads there ordering breakfast and so I joined them. Guys, if ever you are in Sidney, the Third Street Cafe is a MUST! Enuff said. Do it!
After that, I continued to walk a bit passing tiny “ma & pa” type businesses the likes of which I grew up with and of course the likes of which, big cities like Toronto & Montreal gobble up and put out of business period. ( Diamond Sun ? )
I spent rest of day having a workout then preparing my voice for the show.
At 7:45 pm we headed over to the Mary Winspear Theatre once more and hit the stage at around 8:45pm. Another short hit again, but the audience ate it up. Johnny and I nailed “Wae Yer Family” as a duet. It gets better every time. I wore a new shirt I picked up at Burberry last weekend.
Normally I would not wear that brand, it’s just generally not a brand I am attracted to but this shirt is ........The Royal Stewart Tartan! I had to get it.
After show, Sam, Al, Sean and I went for a nightcap pint of Guinness before hitting the pillow.
A great day all around Dear Canada .... buona notte!
Ci rivedremo domani.