Road Music

When Delta Moon travels, we’re not just playing music. We’re listening too. We were lucky to hear a lot of great live music over the last few weeks in Europe, both onstage and off.

In Calabria, Italy, we got a great taste of the ancient local music tradition (and an outstanding taste of spaghetti) at our friend Saro’s house, where we met Michele (Mi-KAY-lay), who played the three-stringed Calabrian lira.

Then at a roadside bar on a nearby mountain we heard a tambourine and squeezebox version of the same song.

It’s an ancient tune called the “Tarentella.” There’s a dance that goes with it, a kind of step right and shuffle then step left and shuffle, and apparently once the party gets started it can last for three or four hours at a stretch. “We have a saying in Calabria,” says our friend Enzo, “– that pig has only three hairs, meaning that song has only two chords.”

We saw a lot of Italian bands. The Southern Gentlemen League, a Southern rock band from southern Italy, are good friends who stayed at Mark’s house when they visited America last year. On this trip they lent us their van, opened a few shows, and all came to see us off at the airport. It felt like the end of a movie. Red Light is a fantastic band from Sicily we’ve seen three times now. We also had memorable jams with Blue Cat Blues and Gió Vescovi.

And there were other Americans around, too. Grayson Capps  performed a great set at Buscadero Day on the shore of Lake Como. The last time I’d shared a stage with him was at the Frog Pond in Fairhope, Alabama.  I had a very pleasant lunch at the beach with Gina Sicilia, an excellent singer from Nashville.

But by far our favorite show of the trip was the Nikki Hill Band in Soria, Spain. Nikki opened with “Sweet Little Rock and Roller” and then continued with some original songs, a few Ike Turner gems — “You like to dance? Well, here’s another” — closing her final encore with AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood.” The band kept whipping up the festival audience, and the audience kept sending more and more energy right back. When they came off backstage the band members were walking ten feet high, saying over and over, “I love Spanish audiences!” It was a terrific experience.

(Photo at top by Arianna Ligi.)

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