The Italian Job – Part 3
OK, it’s been a while since my last post.
You’ll know that we’d been gearing up for a run of dates by songwriter and violinist Chiara Giacobbe. These were Chiara’s first solo dates outside Italy, having previously played in London with her old band Lowlands and, last December, accompanying Italian-born, UK-based singer songwriter Trent Miller, whose recent album on the Bucketfull Of Brains label have made such big waves.
We’d initially booked four dates, but flight timings allowed the addition of a further two, ‘warm-ups’, if you will, at a couple of open-mic nights. The first, at East London boho boozery The Stag’s Head saw Chiara sharing the stage with an array of frankly surreal poets, musicians and comedians. The phrase “scratch my balls” will doubtless linger long in all our minds!!! But arriving onstage at an ungodly hour, she gave a fantastic account of herself and we all left happy. One more open-mic, at The Royal Sovereign in Stoke Newington, vented onto the four previously booked gigs at The Betsey Trotwood (with Simon Onions); a packed out Railway Tavern in Dalston (with Robert James Selby); The Birkbeck Tavern (again with Selby), followed by the tour closer, a riotous show with Miller at Biddle Bros in Hackney. It’s fair to say that few had known what to expect from these gigs, but there’s no substitute for real first-rate musicianship, and Chiara and her guitarist Marco Pagani excelled themselves.
Following an appearance on yours truly’s radio show and a low-key jam with Dan Raza on Sunday, Chiara returned to Italy to resume work on her debut album. The six-track EP Ready To Go is available now on Rigo Records.
With barely time to draw breath, I then played host to Torino’s finest alt.country and bluegrass quintet, The Wild Boars. Led by banjo-player and Derby-born expat Andy Penington, the Boars breezed in for shows at The Railway, The Birkbeck and Biddle Bros. Playing songs from their recently released album A Bottle Or A Gun, they packed out The Railway but, again, played their most vibrant show at Biddle Bros, a fantastic little bar, prone to drunken dancefloor shenanigans! A cancellation on the Sunday meant they were able to squeeze in a last-minute set at London’s finest Americana and roots haunt, Alan Tyler’s long-running Come Down And Meet The Folks. Established in 1995 (or ’96 – no-one’s quite sure!) The Folks has moved home several times, but now with Alan’s co-host Big Steve Arlene returned from Nashville, it looks like settling into its dotage with grace and not a little vigour.
So, what’s next on the agenda? Well, as intimated in my last post, Lowlands have now returned. Their fantastic Woody Guthrie tribute Better World Coming has been going down brilliantly, receiving a 5-star review from R2 magazine and 8 out of 10 from americana-uk.com. Now it’s time to present their third album proper. Beyond was recorded the best part of a year ago but is now all set to see a full UK release through London label Stovepony (The Lucky Strikes, The Whispering Pines) on 19 November. Prior to that Pavia’s favourite sons play four UK dates at…
8 Nov Kama Lounge, Newport
9 Nov The Brickmakers, Norwich
10 Nov The Railway Hotel, Southend
11 Nov The Windmill, Brixton, London
I hope you can make it along to some of the gigs. If not, further dates are being pencilled in for the Spring as I write, including a SPECIAL LONDON SHOW!!!! about which I’m saying nowt!
And praise be! As if that wasn’t enough, also now signed to Stovepony are Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers. Based in Florence, but from the small east-coast town of Forli, Stiv will be no stranger to seriously diehard No Depression readers as the frontman of Satellite Inn, a band signed to North Carolina’s MoodFood label following the departure of Whiskeytown to bigger things. Their album Cold Morning Songs is an alt.country classic, well worth tracking down.
Anyways, having made firm friends with Richmond Fontaine during Stateside visits and while touring with Bob Mould in Europe, Stiv recruited them as his backing band for last year’s solo album Innerstate. Now back with members of Satellite Inn, The Silent Strangers have seen a shift toward swampy punk blues in the manner of The Scientists, The Gun Club and The Drones. Their debut album Black Music / White Music should be released in February with the band touring the UK not long after. Keep an eye out.
Right, that just abut covers it. Hope to see you at the Lowlands shows. In the meantime, please feel free to drop me a PM.