Caramoor + Sardines

25 07 2011

It’s amazing to me that more people in the city do not know about the great house, great gardens and great concerts at Caramoor   in upstate New York.  Caramoor has had a remarkable history of presenting the arts, the legacy of the Rosen family, who’s Grand Dame, Lucie, was the unlikely champion of Léon Theremin. That master of the proximity switch is invoked from first contact, all the gates swinging open automatically as you enter the grounds.

                                                                                           Photo:Gabe Palacio

Last Saturday’s offering was a concert by Malian singer and composer Oumou Sangaré.  The night was hot, the music sultry, and a pretty decent crowd for one of the great voices of West Africa.  Older, white and rhythmically deprived it was a typical Westchester crowd.  But their heart was in it and they all wanted to be there.

I’ve seen Sangare five times in four different countries, and as always she was a delight.  I’ve seen her with three backup singers, but tonight there was a recession to one, dynamic enough for three, Dandio Sidibi.  I’ve heard her original guitarist Boubacar Diallo, the role now assumed by Mamadou Diakite, who could rock, but shown brightest on the acoustic guitar. The kamalengoni, (or n’goni, a six stringed harp-lute described in the program notes as a person) once the driving force of much of the music from the Wassoulou region, was buried here.

A nice trick to get folks outa their seats was asking them to stand for “Wele Wele Wintou,” a song against forced marriages.  Once up wiggles ensued.  Sangaré often addresses social issues, along with the more typical, traditional praise and advice repertoire.  It wasn’t until a closing number that three African clad African women took the stage to ‘spray’ the singer with money, flinging bill after bill at her, the expected audience response throughout West Africa when a kind word is thrown their way.

So… please, get up offa that thing and plan a trip to Caramoor this summer for some music or a picnic. It’s just about an hour upstate by train or car, in Katonah.  An upcoming winner is the Jazz weekend   (Aug 5,6,7) featuring the likes of Juan Carlos Formell, the Christian McBride Big Band, Fred Hersch and John Scofield.

Driving back to the city on Sunday meant a visit to a Japanese street fair in Astoria and the object of my affection, grilled sardines.  I had always heard that summer brought out mounds of the small black salted stinkers and people who love them in this part of town.  So an invite to join a few other archivists and Spaniards at Casa Galicia – a Community Center with an imposing façade – could not be ignored.  And at 6 for $5 you know you’re not in posing Manhattan anymore.

It was family style seating plus wine, sardines, torta (potato pie), hearty beige bread, pulpo (octopus), Spanish empanadas (baked, flat, stuffed with either fish or chicken), and calamares fritos.  I also had an excellent Spanish beer, Estrella Galicia, from the North-West and noticed a sign offering cerveza nacional.  Asking, it turned out it was OUR beer national; Budweiser.

Unbelievably wonderful food, polished off by some Turkish coffee and sweets, made for another great day on the road.  You can learn a lot by taking a little fieldtrip now and then.

Speaking of fieldtrips: Tuesday evening, beginning at 5:30, Forro in the Dark plays outside for free @ the City Winery.  See you there.

AND – a reader has pointed out that Sangaré is performing Friday night at Celebrate Brooklyn, @ the Prospect Park Bandshell, on the bill with our pal Bassam Saba.  Is that out of town also?

Sangaré recordings @ ARC.

• Ko Sira  (World Circuit, UK, WCD 036, 5″, compact disc, 1993)

• Ko Sira  (World Circuit / Nonesuch, USA, 79576-2 , 5″, compact disc, 1993)

• Moussolou  (World Circuit, UK, WCD 021, 5″, compact disc, 1991)

• Moussolou  (World Circuit / Nonesuch, USA, 79575-2, 5″, compact disc, 1999)

• OUmou  (World Circuit / Nonesuch, USA, 79827-2, 5″, compact disc, 2004)

• OUmou  (World Circuit / Nonesuch, USA, PRCD 301363, 5″, compact disc-2CD, 2004)

• Seya  (World Circuit / Nonesuch, USA, 519650-2, 5″, compact disc, 2009)

• Worotan  (World Circuit / Nonesuch, USA, 79470-2, 5″, compact disc, 1996)

• Worotan  (World Circuit, UK, WCD 045, 5″, compact disc, 1996)

Back to normal, with a sidetrip to Abruzzo…

8 07 2011

Well our summer sale is over and it was both fun and successful.  We have been overwhelmed and now we will start getting back to normal, supre-normal even, with a wide range of new projects and programs.  Like scanning all our books.  More about that soon.  But first we need to play catch-up on some unpublished blog entries.

ARC has been chock-a-block with interns this summer, a lucky-for-us mix of few jobs out there and, of course, few places as interesting to hang and learn as ARC.  Our favorite Italian intern (uh, our only Italian intern), Guglielmo Perfetti hails from Abruzzo, a region whose western border lies less than 50 miles east of Rome. Claim To Fame?  Spaghetti Western movies were often set in it’s wild mountainous areas. Guglielmo’s hometown is Pescara, the largest city in Abruzzo, on the eastern, Adriatic coast.  It’s a tourist hang, hosts a leading university, 400,000 people, and an underground music scene.  So here is Guglielmo’s take on a few local bands, with links and photos…

• IL SANTO NIENTE (Trans., Saint Zilch, or Saint Nothing) Originally Umberto Palazzo e il Santo Niente.  Frontman and main songwriter of the band Umberto Palazzo (b.1964) has his musical roots in the 80’s neo-psychedelic scene, playing in garage rock band Ugly Things and in Allison Run of Amerigo Verardi. Some years later, as founding member of Massimo Volume, he played on the recording of the band’s first album, Stanze (1993) with writing credits for some of the songs. By the time the album was launched however, Palazzo was already out of the band looking for new stimulii.

He found it in Bologna, starting his new band, Il Santo Niente, with Fabio Petrelli on bass and Cristiano Marcelli on drums (guitarist Salvatore Russo would join the band for their second album). Thanks to his friendship with Gianni Maroccolo their first album, La Vita e’ Facile (1995) came out on Consorzio Suonatori Indipendenti – a much respected label for new Italian rock. In the same year Il Santo Niente appeared on the Materiale Resistente compilation with Wir Sind Partisanen, released by CPI/Dischi del Mulo.

Inspired by the blunt sounds of Sonic Youth, The Melvins, Nick Cave, and Nirvana, the band’s sound creates a harsh, noir atmosphere expressed by a rock language with no compromise – an electric whirl ironically defined by Palazzo himself as “porno-grunge”. Their lurid, urban texts are in the vein of Hubert Selby Jr. Audiences and critics alike were drawn to the band, unique in the musical panorama of that period.

The promising beginnings strengthened two years later when Il Santo Niente released Seinaru Mono Wanai, (Il Santo Niente in Japanese). Critics have described it as a “pulp-rock” album. In the same year the band composed songs and selected other songs for the soundtrack of the film Jack Frusciante è uscito dal gruppo (Jack Frusciante Left the Band) directed by Enza Negroni and inspired by the novel of the same name by Enrico Brizzi.

Il Santo Niente toured relentlessly from 1997 through to 1999. Palazzo then suddenly called an end to the band. There is speculation that tiredness and some disenchantment had set in. The following five years Palazzo devoted himself to DJ-ing and immersing himself in electronic music.

Without warning in 2005, Palazzo and Il Santo Niente returned to the scene with new band members. They recorded the Ep, Occhiali Scuri al Mattino and then the album Il Fiore dell’Agave, released through BlackCandy and produced by Fabio Magistrali. These records present a return in style of one of the best singer songwriters and interpreters of the Italian noise/punk tradition. “Generazioni”, a tribute album to Santo Niente, is scheduled to be released in May 2011 and a new young line up is at work on a new album.

Members are Umberto Palazzo, Tonino Bosco, Federico Sergente, and Lorenzo Conti.  Wide-ranging influences include The Stooges, Bob Dylan, Mediterranean Folk Music, metal, 13th Floor Elevator, drugs, Techno, The Who, The JB’s, motorbikes, Miles Davis, and Robert Wyatt.

• The Fiftyniners are a Rockabilly Italian band. The band got formed in 2005 when three guys from the Abruzzo:  Nick Alfieri “Nitro” (guitar), Gino Russo “Speedking” (drum) and Raffaello Zappalorto “Mendez” (contrabass) met. Their music is a perfect mix between punk-rock with a psychobilly sound, tainted with an array of the 50’. In 2007 they released their first album Thinkin’Trippin’Burnin produce by 8 Records. The CD present originals song of the band and also count a brilliant rockabilly cover of Personal Jesus from Depeche Mode witch will give the trio Abbruzzese a good visibility in the national field. After several line up changes Antonio Chiacchia “T-Bone” joined the band in 2008. In 2010 The Fiftyniners released their second album Psychorama produce by Twelve Record.

Members: Nick Alfieri – Voice and guitar; Gino Russo – Drum; Antonio Chiacchia “T-Bone” – Double bass and voice.  Ex Members include Cristian Fiore “Mr Sinister” (2007-2008), Marco Firmani “Markey Star” (2006-2007) and Raffaello Zappalorto “Mendez” (2005-2006)

How describe the 59ers? Explosive riffs, rhythmic adrenalin blended with melodies from the fifties and reverb to tape! The 59ers now make it clear which side they are! Choosing only the vinyl version to package their branded Psychobilly r’n’r by Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran (Thinkin ‘Trippin’ Burnin ‘- 8 records 2007). A large number of concerts up and down the boot, acclaim from critics and audiences, and the publication of the second studio album (Psychorama – Twelve Records 2010) in November in all record stores and major online distribution channels. Rock’ N’ Roll is dead? Listen to them before you jump to conclusions!

• Death Mantra for Lazarus was formed in 2008 as an exclusively instrumental side project of three bands, Zippo, Keep Out and Negative Trip. All three had already been active in the Pescara (Italy) music scene for some years.

In the beginning there were only a few sporadic concerts and the band mostly remained a jamming band. It was not until 2009, that the band started to develop an independent identity and created its own original repertory. Very soon, thanks to a series of successful concerts, the band gathered a very solid and extraordinary following.

In 2010 the band released “MU” on the go, their debut album, recorded and co-produced by Fabio di Zio for his label Grammofono Alla Nitro.

In the album, the atmospheres are dark and dilated and they describe musical landscapes that go from the Far East to classical music, passing through psychedelia and post-rock.

Some important collaborations also took place in the album: Federica Vignoni (classical violinist of international level with the heart of a truly gifted and wild rocker) and Umberto Palazzo, leader and singer of the band Santo Niente, contributed to the band’s work by writing and carrying out the epic and morbid “Maria Callas”, the only track with vocals and words.

Death Mantra for Lazarus let their light shine through, playing in live concerts, they always provided an intense and eternal source of contrasting emotions.

DMFL are constituted by Zippo’s rhythm section, Tonino Bosco (bass) and Federico Sergente (drums) and the guitarists couple Alessandro Di Fabrizio (Keep Out) and Lorenzo Conti (Negative Trip).…………………………………

• EL SANTO NADA is a collective of musicians from Pescara, Italy. They formed in 2007 originally as a spin off of Santo Niente (Saint Zilch).

Suddenly they forged an eclectic identity through their exploration of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks, mexican traditional music, instrumental and surf rock of the late ’50s and early ’60s, italian and balcanic popular music as well as british psychedelia and contemporary alternative rock.

TUCO is their first album and is “a rock opera without words”. It’s “Tommy” set in some desert, south of some border and it’s an allegory of the difficult relationship between the South and the North of the World.



Like most of Europe, the summer abounds with music festivals, and it’s a major way new bands, and just about any alternative sounds get heard.  In Pescara the people doing booking and promotion for indie music tours and events is Clap Dance Promotion.  They began and nurture the eight-year-old IndieRocket Festival and Soundlab festival dedicated to underground bands and artists.  Over the years artists like the Gang of Four, The Red Krayola, The Cesarians, Mogwai, Simple Minds and Ned have appeared.

So visit Pescara – a peaceful seaside paradise, jam packed with really loud music!

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