But Venice is a city by all means, where actual people live (I promise). They are born there, they eat there, they love there, and they do everything there. I’m not kidding! Among these activities, there is a lively musical entourage active in both Venice and Mestre (the ‘inland’ part). And something new is arising... In the last 40 years tourism had boosted up the request for live music in restaurants, hotels, and cafés. Until the late 90s it was mostly jazz and blues, which led to the formation of a couple generations of well-trained professionals. But in the late 90s with the stall of tourism, they started to look elsewhere for bigger gigs. What were left in
Venice were the young newcomers, less bound to the ‘tradition’ and willing to play contemporary music. This led to a huge problem not yet solved: there is no space in Venice. Venues are small, above them regular people live that have to work the next day, and so on. It’s the price to pay to live in a piece of art. Music in Venice took a wrong turn. The only exception was the roots reggae band Pitura Freska, the most famous band from the lagoon capable of three platinum records between 1990 and 2001. Venice filled up with cover and tribute bands, more or less playing the same songs that the venues’ owners would request over and over again. But with the new millennium something changed: music production started to shift towards the inland, to Mestre where musicians could begin again to ‘decide’ what to play. Young businessmen had opened new venues for this purpose, as opposed to the traditional ‘closeness’ of the center of Venice where the owners have been pretty much the same since the 70s.
A new life in music around the lagoon was starting. In that new life shone the Don Ciccio Philarmonic Orchestra, a band that summed up folk, blues, jazz, and traditional tunes. Active from 2000 to 2008, they only recorded one album (Suite Per Viaggiatori, 2006), but that LP was a turning point: the musical scene around Venice was starting to try to reach for the stars, since then the national underground attention has shifted towards this part of Italy. Meanwhile, from Pitura Freska’s ashes, a new band was maintaining the link between the lagoon and the Caribbean: Ska-J, led by Marco “Furio” Forieri who plays saxophone in Pitura Freska. Mixing ska, jazz, and pop music, the amusing and ironic band continues the tradition of singing in the Venetian dialect that is pretty incomprehensible to anyone who’s not from the region. Amazingly enough, this choice doesn’t prevent them from breaking into national radio and TV as well as reaching a good amount of public and critical success. From 2003 and on, not a year passes by without a new album. Venice Goes Ska was released in 2003 and Socco was released this year.
PHOTO by G’NAT