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Friday Five: Italian Singers/Musicians Worth a Listen

30 Nov

Before I get started, don’t forget to go visit today’s Dolce Italiano post at The Left Over Queen. And, for those of you in the States who’d like to see the author of Dolce Italiano, Gina DePalma, baking up a storm on national TV, check out The Martha Stewart Show on Monday for “Italian Female Chef Day.” Click here for a sneak preview (click on the Dec. 3 tab).

Now onto today’s Friday Five…music. I haven’t written about any Italian singers or musicians in a while. Here are a few that I really like. Not necessarily what’s “hot” right now, but the ones I can always go back to. If you’re reading in a feed reader, please click through because each artist has a video clip from You Tube.

1) Giovanni Allevi

I just discovered Allevi when I was watching MTV Italia recently (in between guilty pleasures like “Pimp My Ride” and the sickly satisfying trainwreck of a show “My Sweet Sixteen”). I’m no expert on piano soloists, but he kind of reminds me of George Winston. You can buy his album “No Concept” as an import on Amazon. He released a new one last summer but it seems to not yet be available in the States.

Check out this video of him playing “Come Sei Veramente,” one of the songs on the above album. Just gorgeous. Even BMW grabbed it for an ad here in Italy (directed by none other than Spike Lee), which is what he jokes about a bit before he starts playing, saying that now he knows when he plays this song everyone is going to go out and buy a BMW.

2. Carmen Consoli

I adore her, hands down my favorite Italian female singer. Kind of reminds me of an Italian version of Sara McLachlan, but with a voice that’s a bit rougher around the edges and less polished.

3. Mina

She’s a classic. I fell in love with her “Parole, Parole” when I saw “Io Non Ho Paura” (I’m Not Scared) and in a certain scene it was playing on a tiny radio with a guy singing along. Here’s a unique interpretation by Adriano Celentano, another Italian singer/songwriter of mythical proportions, with Mina from 1972.

4. Renato Zero

Yes, he’s over the top theatrical. Yes, he’s a drama queen. Yes, he’s not exactly the most hip and modern of the latest singer/songwriters (I think he might have had his heyday in the early to mid 80s). But these are all reasons why I love him, and he is still going strong. I like his voice and his ability to command a stage. I went to one of his concerts here in Rome a couple years ago, and let me tell you, it was held in the soccer stadium and was packed full (the stadium can hold about 70,000 people just to give you an idea). There were people of all ages, even entire families that went together, and everyone was singing along. And the guy just really knows how to put on a good show; it was very over the top with elaborate costume changes and sets. The video below is also from a live show, a great song and a performance that is fairly tame in terms of his usual dramatic antics.

5. Lucio Battisti

A great storyteller, songs full of emotion and rich with detail. I have this 2-disc set that I bought here in Italy of his hits from the 70s…if you can find it somewhere as an import, I recommend it.


Mexico Comes to Rome

16 Jun

Let me preface this by saying that I’ve lived above a restaurant in Trastevere for, oh, about four or five years now I guess. Da Vincenzo is the restaurant that my husband’s grandfather (that would be Vincenzo) and father used to own and manage, but now it’s no longer managed by the family. Being as it’s in Trastevere, even though its not in one of the main tourist-crowded areas of the neighborhood, it still gets its fair share of traveling musicians. Oh, how they love to “entertain” the diners eating at the red and white checkered tables lined up under the large umbrellas on our cobblestone street.

By any chance were you following my adventures back in early October? If so, perhaps you’ve already been briefed about these musical adventures. If not, I highly suggest you pop over to this post before reading any further, just to get yourself up to speed.

Now, needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of performers under my windows: some ridiculously silly and fun (mago), some barely passable, some pretty desperate, some (opera singer) downright brave, but most just plain repetitive. Luckily their performances usually only last a couple minutes, so no one’s going to be losing sleep over it. But last night—well, last night was a first.

Just picture me, sunken down into my couch as I blog-surf on the laptop. Ale has a work dinner so it’s just me and the cats. No sound in the house because I don’t like Italian TV… I just prefer quiet. So imagine my surprise when all of a sudden, out of absolutely nowhere, I hear a mariachi trumpet start crowing away at full blast. I mean it. Seriously, I felt like I had gone into a blog-reading-induced trance that had me drinking margaritas and eating Mexican food (something that I definitely have in common with fellow expat Jul—who, BTW and IMHO, has a fun and very readable blog). But I digress, as usual. Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

Turns out I was not, in fact, dreaming of mariachis. No, no, they had actually arrived unannounced underneath my window to serenade not only me and the diners, but with their unabashed volume, the rest of the block as well. I did see one window promptly close… some of my neighbors are just a wee bit cynical about these things.

I, on the other hand, didn’t waste time, shamelessly aiming my camera down at them to give you a little taste of the Mexican-infused entertainment around these parts. They were decked out in full-on mariachi garb. And yes, they did provide their rendition of the timeless crowd-pleasing mariachi classics “Cielito Lindo” (you know the one, ay ay ay ay) and everyone’s personal favorite, “La Bamba.” Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan.

Excuse the fact that you can’t see hardly anything, since it was nighttime and I don’t have any fancy video equipment other than the video function on my digital camera. But you have to give me bonus points for my quick reaction.

Now, the million dollar question is: how long do you think this act will last? Mistero.
[Feed readers: click through to see the video clip.]

Listen Up!

28 Nov

I figure, while we’re making new categories, let’s really go for it–besides shopping, which I inaugurated on Sunday, I also noticed that something else was sadly absent: la musica!

So, in case you’re wondering what we’re listening to in Rome right now, I’ve hand-picked a couple of my favorites for you:

1. Luca Carboni: Malinconia from the album Le Band Si Sciolgono
Listen here
Offical website

2. Ligabue: Cosa Vuoi Che Sia from the album Nome e Cognome
Listen here: #5
Official website

Oh, how I heart Ligabue—his voice is … sigh. Or, as they would say here: molto sexy. Listen. If you know Ligabue or know someone who knows someone who knows him, please—all I’m asking is that you put me in touch.

3. Cesare Cremonini: Deve Essere Così from the album 1+8+24
Listen here
Offical website

4. Tiziano Ferro: Ed Ero Contentissimo from the album Nessuno è Solo
Listen here: #3
Official website

5. Zucchero: Occhi from the album Fly
Listen here: #3 (And Finny will remember song #1 from her recent visit. When it was on the radio I thought he was singing “Ba bo ba ba bo” then Ale helpfully pointed out that it was actually the words “Bacco perbacco” Oops!)
Official website

6. Neffa: Cambierà from the album Alla Fine Della Notte
Listen here: #7
Official website

I have to admit that I am partial to male Italian singers. The only female Italian singer I really like is Carmen Consoli. (Offical website Listen to tracks.) I don’t like Elisa, Georgia, Laura Pausini, or even Mina (I know, that’s a sin but I’m sorry, she’s just not my fave. I’ll make an exception for that one song where she sings “parole, parole, parole…” but only because it was in my favorite Italian movie). I like Gianna Nannini, but just sometimes. (Offical website. Listen to tracks.) Are there any other women singers I need to know about? Who are your favorites in Italian music? Help me out here!