Wanna know a litte bit more about italian lifestyle? Oh boy, I’ve got a story for you. A trip, some music, food, history, friends and family, life unfolding under our own eyes. Here we go.
I’ve been playing with Anna Su for more than 2 years now, and until last summer my dream has always been to bring her music overseas, especially to my country: Italy.
After her first album “Howling Tree” was released in October 2010 we started gigging around town to promote her music until we were finally able to book a mini-tour of Southern California that brought us from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, rocking almost every Coffee Shop, Bar or even Winery on our way. The success of the gigs was higher than expected and since the online feedback of iTunes and Facebook from Italy was great I decided to book one gig in Firenze.
So I arranged a couple of people I know from back home and with a few of emails and Skype calls ta-da I might just have formed the band. I had Jacopo Florenzi on bass and Alessandro Lo Conte on drums.
Next step is which place to choose for us to play. Ok, Italy is not known to be a live music friendly country and city centers are especially hostile to any note from a musical instrument after midnight, but this worked in my favor and helped me pick the right venue.
Il Teatro del Sale is a very special place, located in the heart of Firenze, a theater-shaped restaurant obtained from a refectory of a 1300’s monastery. A 1300’s Monastery!!
Our show was preceded by a typical Tuscan dinner cooked by the Chef Fabio Picchi, already known for being the owner of “Il Cibreo” and writer of several books about the art of cooking like “I dieci comandamenti per non fare peccato in cucina” (the 10 commandments to not sin in the kitchen), a philosopher (also in the way he looks), a cook and actor.
Every dish was cooked live in an open kitchen under the eyes of all the guests and then introduced out loud with a strong Tuscan accent and with a poetry that I honestly don’t know how to describe. Obviously the result was an explosion of flavours that I had never experienced before but I also didn’t have the time to enjoy because I was busy getting ready upstairs.
Our dressing room, in fact, was located above the theater in a space overlooking the red roofs of Firenze in a magic summer evening.
Before the show we had the chance, thanks to Nerina, to taste some treats, wine and get some rest before the show.
Unlike any Mediterranean habit the dinner was served pretty early (7,30pm) and after that the doors of the venue are getting closed, so you have to be quite on time and hungry of food and music.
After the meal the staff of the “Teatro del Sale” arrange the chairs and form lines of seats in front of the big walnut-wood stage, turning the Ristorante into a Teatro.
Upstairs the atmosphere is warm and we get invited by the stage manager to go downstairs backstage and wait, so while Francesco (host and manager for the night) introduces us, we climb down those squeeky old steps, that make us feel already at the center of the attention. I have already my guitar on me, which makes the descent from the stairs even harder, but I finally manage to gather with my bandmates behind the black curtain dividing us from the Action.
We wait for Diego (the sound and light engineer) to turn down the lights and we walk on stage in a surreal silence that distinguish theater from live music concerts.
The band is on stage, Anna on vocals with her guitar, Jacopo and a white Precision Bass, Rachel singing backups and playing ukulele resting her leg on a tiny wood stool, Alessandro slips the brushes off his bag, I’m ready to swell textures with my Strat, the cables are plugged in and I feel like I’m having four eyes: one on every person in the band; Alessandro counts in 1,2,3,4 and the songs go one by one, from mellow ballads to more dancy and upbeat atmospheres.
Anna and Rachel’s vocals interlock perfectly and the music goes by in a perfect relationship with the location, precious but not snob, present but not loud.
We play some of the songs from Anna’s debut “Howling Tree” but also we sneak in a few tunes from her upcoming Ep.
I’m standing on the left side of the stage and sometimes I look through the crowd and see familiar faces: friends and family, but also unknown people that accepted the bet of going out that night for dinner and listen to some new music from Los Angeles.
Our set is over, an hour of emotions culminating in a “bis” (encore) of Anna, playing one last song on her own.
After the gig the time to say hi to everybody and the tension leaves space to smiles, handshakes and “bravo’s”, that are maybe the best reward that a performer can ask for….waaaaay better than “You sound good man!”
“Il teatro del Sale” is empty now, just us the band, a few friends and the staff enjoying the most delicious food I’ve ever tried in my life, obviously explained and decanted by Francesco and of course paired with some great wine that the staff let Anna pick herself from the cellar.
Now I’m there sitting with some of my best friends, enjoying a meal in my city after having played my music, why can’t it be like this every day?