On the way to the IBC Finals, I stopped by the Center for Southern Folklore. To my surprise, Saturday was “Blues, Italian Style.” Of course I could not pass that up, so I planned that as my Saturday night. The main act was Francesco Piu from Sardinia. Plus 2 blues duos were on the bill: Veronica Sbergia & Max DeBernardi and Angela Esmeracda & Sebastiano Lillo (they had performed at the International Showcase).
This promised to be a fun and entertaining evening.
For me it was the best night of the IBC.
I got there really early and spent time talking with Tyler who is a PhD student at University of Memphis. His research topic is Furry Lewis. The time past quickly as we talked or I should say I carried on.
The Center is a nice setting with small tables. One felt very comfortable.
Francesco arrived and was very friendly. Came over and introduced himself and a friend he was with. We had a chance to talk for awhile before he had to prepare for the show. He was on a US tour and had already been through Mississippi playing Club Ebony, Red’s, and The Shack-up Inn. After Memphis he was off to California for a Las Angles date at House of Blues and then San Francisco for Biscuit & Blues.
He has 4 CDs out and much better language skills then I do. He also conversed in French with friends from France.
No surprise at the musical skills on display this night. The Italian language does have a lyrically quality to it.
Francesco and Tyler got the stage ready.
As more people arrived the discussions were in Italian and the aura was of a European setting, an Italian coffeehouse. And it was an international audience as before the evening was over, friends from Spain, France, Germany and Israel stopped in.
The other Duos arrived and the Center was very active.
Judy Peiser did the introductions and talked about her visits to Italy and the Memphis relationship. Rufus Thomas is well respected there, as are other blues and soul artists.
Francesco started off. He showed music versatility going to the harmonica and washboard. He also did some slide guitar.
During the show Tyler brought some popcorn around. Excellent!
Veronica Sbergia & Max DeBernardi were up next. Only one way to describe the act is animation. Veronica has a “joy for life” that just radiates through the audience. You cannot help but have a good time. I refer to Max as the strong silent type but he also introduces the songs and supplies a little history.
They were called the Red Wine Serenaders. They did some old time blues, fun songs and gospel. I would say the word enchanting applies. All the time I was watching the show I was wondering how they would do in Connecticut/Northeast.
Veronica enjoying the fact Elvis ws in the audience.
As you can see Veronica plays a number of instruments.
During the evening Michael Powers from Yellow Dog Records stop in. As did Michael Frank of Earwig Records. When Michael was introduced to Davide, he mentioned knowing a man with the same last name. Turned out to be Davide’s father.
Michael “Hawkeye”Herman who played with Veronica and Max came by. He had the same feeling that I did, American audiences would enjoy them.
Angela Esmeracda & Sebastiano Lillo, the youngest of the three were up next. Sebastiano was accompanying Angela’s vocals but did do a solo himself.
They brought up a friend from Israel on piano.
The evening was filled with good blues and a lot of good feelings. It was a great place to be on a Saturday night. Here is hoping we can get them to Connecticut. I can’t leave the Center without mentioning the Peach Cobbler, above excellent. Another good part of the show were interview vignettes by Judy. We learned a little more about the artists. And as you can see smiles and good humor abounded. The Center for Southern Folklore has a variety of books, art, and CDs.
Post script: seems people see a camera and want a picture taken. These two young women caught me in the elevator at my hotel. No names or e-mails just a photo for my records.
Questions/comments, I can be reached through the Blog comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org. BluesBeatNews is written, produced, directed and photographed by Domenic Forcella. My weekly Blues Beat column appears in the New Britain Herald, Bristol Press, Middletown Press and Torrington Register-Citizen.