A letter from Dirk


     So I’m back in sweet home Italia, this time doing the annual summer gigs with the Italian band, The Bluesmen.  They are a great bunch of musicians and a lot like my American band; they’re all reliable and serious about knowing the music and playing it well. They all show up when they’re supposed to show up too, which is rare for musicians and especially for people in this country. The Italians are all teachers at the School of Modern Music in Ferrara except the drummer, Roberto Morsiani, who’s a kick-ass drummer and a Romagnolo rogue from down south. He’s possibly the most disciplined wild man I’ve ever met. ‘Bob’ Forman (Roberto Formignani) is the leader, a great guitarist and my probably my best friend here. A more positive and generous man I’d be hard put to name. Massimo Montovani is the keyboard man and we call him The Maestro because he knows everything about music and is always the ‘go to’ guy when we’re at a musical impasse. Roberto Poltronieri is the newest member.  He plays bass but he’s one of those guys who plays everything. It’s a gas to work with these guys. Between my crack American band and these guys, I’m livin’ the dream!

     I got to bring my 15 year-old son this time. I really had no idea how he’d do here.  I’ve had a lot of experience bringing guys to Italy for the first time, some take to it like a snake to a crack in the mud while others nearly die from culture shock.  Chavis slithered right in beautifully. He learned more Italian in 22 days than some musicians have touring here for years in a row.  He immediately ‘got’ the culture and appreciated the same stuff I like so much about it.  That’s my boy! Chip off the old block?  Maybe. He’s a born artist and like me is interested only in music and books and poetry and movies and well… art. I never understood how people can put so much effort into activities  that do nothing but make money. I remember being terrified as a kid thinking I’d grow up and have to wear a suit and get all serious and do boring stuff all day.  Anyway, I’m proud my son’s an artist born but a bit scared at the same time. For most of us it’s a hard road and you’re never far from homelessness but… what can you do? 

     The first gig was a double bill with Willy Nile in Asti.  Most folks my age immediately think “spumante” after they hear ‘Asti’ because there was a big advertising campaign in the late 50’s (or was it the early 60’s?) and our brains were branded with those two words together.  Anyway, the gig was great, the piazza packed and a great time was had by all as far as I could see.

     The next gig was a solo gig at a beer joint in Lecco.  Times are tough here just like they are there, maybe worse. We used to play 15 or 20 band gigs each summer easy, now it’s like 8 band concerts supplemented by a few duo or solo gigs. There are fewer gigs and fewer folks forkin’ out euro for the CDs and books we hawk at the shows. The beer gig was good though because the money was decent and the owners of the club were great guys. Having people book you who are excited to see you play and who respect what you do makes all the difference. Sure it was noisy and drunken but I like what I do and just closed my eyes and got down into the music. Also, in Italy people don’t generally get as disgustingly drunk as they do in the states and in my 22 years coming here I’ve never seen a fight. It’s far less violent here. Sometimes they do have drive by punchings, though.

     The next gig we knew nothing about. It was a duo gig and we knew where it was and when we were supposed to arrive and that was about it. When we got there we saw that we were  opening for Mick Taylor of Rolling (fucking) Stones fame!  That’s how it goes here sometimes… mysterious happenings and surprises. We played about 30 minutes and then we watched the Sonny Landreth Band (who were great). Sonny played guitar like nothing I’ve ever seen before and he seems to be a real genuine fella too. The Mick Taylor band was wonderful. Mick’s an amazing guitar player and everybody in his band was world class. It was the favorite concert I’ve played in a long time.  I stood on the side of the stage diggin’ the show and suddenly realized that I should be singing at least one song with them, I really think I could have killed it with them  I was already all smiles because I was so transported by the music. After I realized I should be singing with them I smiled even harder trying to look my friendliest hoping they’d call me on. It didn’t happen. It would’ve been great, but I was perfectly content though just diggin’ the music. It was a great night.

     Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll try and write another one soonish. I hope all those guys who ripped us all off and wrecked the world economy are enjoying themselves of their islands and boats and shit cuz thing’s aren’t so great money-wise for most of the rest of us. Actually, I’m hoping they’ll eventually be brought to justice. Pipe dream? Probably. A possibility? Anything is possible. I’ve learned that much.




Dirk's Italian tour continues, and there may be changes to the schedule. Please see dirkhamilton.com for updates.


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