April 3, 2011 - Tivoli, Italia
Today we had a relatively short drive to Tivoli. It felt longer given our busy day yesterday, and some very late hours, but the weather was gorgeous and so is the town. Actually, weather played a part in where our show was. Our venue for the day was actually a private home (first house concert for me in Italia!) Last year our friends Stickmen played here as well and the show was done outside in the "garden." But, given the time of year, the hosts were worried about rain today and set us up in a sound proofed barn they have. Turns out the weather was perfect, but the barn worked great too.. nice and cozy and full of a very enthusiastic audience. Thanks Tivoli!

Stickmen were here
Thank you Tivoli!

April 2, 2011 - Roma, Italia
Happy birthday Andrea! Today as a birthday present for himself, Andrea arranged a very busy schedule. In the early evening we played at a great music store called Music Arté in downtown Roma, just minutes walking distance from St Peter's Basillica. A nice surprise for me at the show was getting to meet two local Stick players (always fun).

Coming very soon to Stick and drum you
Andrea ed il proprietario di Music Arté

Then at night, a show at a great live music venue called Antú. This was my third time playing here with Andrea, though the first time we did, we were in two different bands and the name of the venue was different. But still... I'm starting to feel like a local! Also fun, a local group called the Soul Saver Band opened the show, and featured my friend Francesco who I met at Berklee's Berklee in LA program last year.

Soul Saver Band opens the show
coming soon to Antú (some of these look familiar)

due Andrei
the other side of the room

April 1, 2011 - Latina, Italia
April fish day! Andrea taught me today that here in Italy they have practical jokes on April 1, just like in the States. For some reason though they call it "April Fish" day instead of April Fool's day. Hmmm... Tonight we played in a venue called La Cantinacca in Latina, which is abut an hour from Roma and actually just outside the city, or maybe "commune's" border. The club is set up among a very old mountain town and is actually converted from a winery that I'm told dates back to medievil times. It was our second time playing there, and it's really a special and pituresque setting to be in. Andrea swapped a CD for a used frying pan and added it to his collection for use in his drum set. After the show, the sound engineer took me back behind his soundboard to show me his settings for me. He was quite happy that he had (audio geek speak ahead) set the faders at 0db, not added any gain and turned off his EQs, and found what I was sending him to be perfect for the room. What can I say? It was a lucky guess on my part, but I really didn't do much... The Stick is just good at sounding both full and clear!

Traffic from Roma to Latina
(bad by any standard)

Up the hill we go

A bit of La Cantinacca scenery
A bit more...

Time for the audience to hear words in Italian

March 31, 2011 - Roma, Italy
A very quick sightseeing stop today on our way out of town; and a brief pass through Ostia Antica, an ancient part of Ostia that I guess dates back to roughly the 5th century. Apparently the town and a castle were built around the time Rome was being sacked, maybe (if I remember the sign right) by people essentially fleeing the city.

Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica Church (missed the name!)

At night we had a chance to catch a show with Stickmen here in Roma. Originally we were actually scheduled to open, but somewhere over the past month or so, the venue decided to cancel all opening acts as a new policy. Eeek! At least they were kind enough to offer us tickets to the show, and although we would have loved to play, it's always great to catch Tony Levin and company and we had fun relaxing and listening for a night and letting somebody else do all the work! They sounded great as always. As a fellow Stick player, it's always an education for me to see what Tony is up to and Pat Mastelotto once again blew me away with both his drumming and his integration of electronic loops and percussion. "New guy" in the group Markus Reuter is someone who's work I've heard many times over the years, but this was actually the first time we actually crossed paths in person. Really a nice guy as are they all.

Stickmen live - Roma

March 30, 2011 - Roma, Italy
Today we did something a bit different and visted a local recording studio to work on a promotional video for future use. It was a nice room, and the spot where Andrea recorded his "Where Is The Song?" CD which I contributed to at home from California. Nice to see where the other end of the audio pipeline was! We worked very quickly today though and the videographer just had one camera to work with, so... for probably the first time every I think, I was asked to mime along for a few passes after the inital live recording, so that he could focus in on things like closeup shots of my hands.. and feet! I added quite a few unnecessary pedal presses to make the footcam pass more interesting.. though they "can" often be quite busy on their own.

Studio Eur
Andy, Matt and Paul at Studio Eur (Andrea, Matteo and Paolo)

Afterwards, a little sightseeing by foot around Roma's center, and a stop to Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the major Basillicas here I'd never seen. It's typical in the major churches that at the back they have an audio guide, where you can pay maybe 2 Euros and pick up a phone and hear a voice tell you some history in your own language. This one had something else though too; for one Euro you could turn on the lights on the ceiling for two minutes. That's one way to pay the bills I guess. Definitely a sight to be seen with the lights on too!

Santa Maria Maggiore back (with the lights turned on)
Santa Maria Maggiore front (again w. the lights on)

At night we had a great opportunity to meet up for dinner with our friends from the group Stickmen including Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter and Robert Frazza.Andrea led us to the most ancient pizzeria in Roma! Buona!

"I can't believe the bill is so low!"
(photo by Roberto Scorta)
Stickmen and friends
(photo by Roberto Scorta)

March 27, 2011 - Bassano, Italy
Today is a day off and we've pushed back our drive to Roma till tomorrow to make a tourist trip to Venice. Although this is the seventh tour I've done in Italy, I'd actually never been there yet, so I was quite curious to see it. What can I say? It lives up to the "hype" it gets in movies, stories, etc... truly a unique place. Our trip started with a one hour train ride from Bassano, then straight from the train station to the Venice equivalent to a local subway; large people moving boats that have regular stops and accomodate maybe 100. We journeyed down the Grand Canale with this for maybe an hour till we arrived at Piazza San Marco, home of a church that it seems houses the tomb of St Mark the Evangelist. From there, we travelled back to the station by foot, winding through a labyrinth of buildings and bridges over small canals. Along the way we visited a musical instrument museum paying tribute to Vivaldi (a native of Venice) and passed several other sites that would have been great to visit with more

Leaving the Venice train station...
S.I.A.E. - The Italian composers' royalty office... Venice office

One of many dozen side canals from the Grand Canale

Local Ambulance

Local Police
....and fire fighters????

Piazza San Marco
Church of San Marco

"Tresoro" (treasure) of the church;
A gold Byzantine art piece with over 2000 precious and semi-precious stones
The center piece

walking over a side canal

break time for a gondola skipper

March 26, 2011 - Verona, Italy
A relatively short drive from Bassano to Verona today to take part in a drum (or actually cymbal) showcase at one of Italy's largest music stores; The Musical Box. Andrea and his friend Alex from Rome spent about an hour playing dual drums (two drum sets), letting audience members try the cymbals and answering questions. We then did a set all together with Alex joining us on every tune. Though I've had studio tracks with multiple drummers, I think this was the first time I've played live with two actual drum sets behind me, not to mention two great players. The energy was fantastic and Alex did a great job following cues from Andrea as to what was happening with the songs.

Andrea and Alex demo UFIP cymbals (and play some drums too)
Just one aisle of the massive "Musical Box" store in Verona

March 25, 2011 - Bassano, Italy
Today was another two show day, though nicely they were both in the same theatre. In the morning we did a clinic for roughly 200 students. I think many (or all) must have been music students, because some of the questions we got from them were quite insightful (and I was grateful to have Andrea's help on translating my answers!)

In the afternoon, we went for a walk across one of the famous landmarks here; an old wooden bridge that I believe dates back to about the 1400's and seems to have been important in the first or second world war. I'm obviously not sure of the details, but.. it's a beautiful spot and definitley something Bassano is proud of.

At night, we did a public show in the same theatre. Opening the show was a local student orchestra with 35 players, including 5 keyboards, electric bass, drums, guitar, and an assortment of violins, violas, woodwinds and brass. They sounded great, and invited me to join in their last number; Sing, Sing, Sing. I'd heard the tune before but never played it, but had fun soloing over a few spots and quietly ghosting the melody when the theme came around. At the end of our duo set, the orchestra presented us with gifts; wooden replicas of the Bassano bridge. Wonderful! Now I just have to find a way to get it home safely!

Morning clinic in Bassano Theatre
Vittorelli Band Orchestra gathers before the show..

Bassano Bridge
a view from the bridge...

...and the little replica we were given by the orchestra!

March 24, 2001 - Bassano and Schio, Italy
Our first real tour day today and a big one with two performances. The first was a show in an art school for about 200 students. I think maybe it was a pottery school? I was surprised that the makeup of students was mostly girls (this coming from a Berklee grad where the ratio is 2:1 in favor of guys). They were quite attentive though and very enthusiastic. Afterwards we did an interview for the school paper then packed up and had a quick rest before heading to one of my favorite towns in Italy; Schio. I've made some great friends in Schio over the years and it's always wonderful to see them. They've built up quite a good reputation as concert promoters now too, and our show was something of a prologue for them for their next event soon with Van De Graff Generator. We played in a restaurant called Due Spade. It was an up close and personal style event, but some of my Schio friends told me afterwards that it was one of their favorite shows I've done here. They also told us that the venue was (upstairs) home to Ernest Hemingway for a time. Maybe during the first world war?

Show #1 - a clinic for art students in Bassano
...then a trip to nearby Schio and the club Due Spade

March 23, 2011 - Encinitas, CA to JFK, New York to Milano, Italy to Bassano, Italy
A long, long travel day today as I'm off to Italy for a new tour with drummer Andrea Ruta. Preparing for an international tour like this is always a lot of work, covering many details. I decided this time to "book" an extra day to pack and prepare but somehow it still wasn't enough. I think I finally made it to bed at about 12:30 am only to have to wake up at 4am to head to the airport... followed by about eighteen hours of flights to New York, then Milan.. then a three hour drive to Bassano... not to mention a nine hour time change. Originally there was even a gig being planned for the same day! I have to confess that's one show I'm glad didn't come together!

A hotel with a view (first stop in Bassano)

Want more stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.

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