Think about a damp, cold night in Milano. You drive about 40 minutes to get to a totally unfashionable area, enter a courtyard, walk the corridors of a building basement until you get to an old storage room. That’s what I did the other night and though I know it sounds weird, it’s been an awsome night with lots of great blues, plus an unexpecetd guest, oral history like the good old days when Internet and Tv didn’t exist.
The guy playing is Ale Ponti, 100% Italian as white as milk but with a black warm soul which granted him admittance and respect into the New Orleans scene. The one on the right is one of my best friends, Gabriele, who organized the private event in his space he usually devotes to tango. The second Ale started playing I thanked God for my big bro making me listen to tons of blues when we where kids, but it’s not music I want to talk about.
Between one song and the other Ale explained a bit about them when he got to Robert Johnson. Oh boy, what a life he had: troubled youth, lots of women and too much whisky. He hang about with some bluesman in Missisippi but he was a poor guitarist, until one day he disappered to return one year later with an impressive technique and talent. He recorded something like 29 songs considered today as a milestone in XX century music (Keith Richards and Eric Clapton are two of his biggest fans, just to give you an idea) and misteriously died at 27. There’s a legend saying that he wanted so badly to be a great musician that he went at Midnight at a certain crossroad where you could meet the devil to make a deal with him. He wrote a song called Crossroad, in fact, where he gives a smoky version of this legend, plus he seemed to enjoy playing in churchyards at night and died after a long painful agony during which no one tried to help. Now we all agree there there were probably simpler reasons for all these things, like a jealous husband who poisoned him for revenge, still I had shivers down my spine.
I felt blessed to sit in a circle and listen to a story being told by the candle light. I love technology, I spend ages chatting with friends, right now I am writing this post while clicking on youtube about Prince, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and B.B. King. This is all super, only try to do like we did the other night. Discover the pleasure of oral history as it used to be for our grandparents. Homer didn’t write The Iliad ot The Odyssey: if he ever existed in flesh and bones, he told people about Hector and Achilles with his own voice and who knows how many others repeated that story with a slighty different version from time to time. Actors on a stage are always a great experience, this is different though. It’s about spontaneously sharing your knowledge and it’s so intense.