04 June 2014

Late Night from Italy: riding the blue highway

Late Night: (l-r) Luca Bartolini, Ivo Sposaro

The BIB published on 12 May news from our friend Luca Bartolini about the powerful band he's now in, 0039 Bluegrass Made in Italy. Luca now sends news of another project of which he's a part - the acoustic duo Late Night.

Late Night consists of Ivo Sposaro and Luca Bartolini - both sing and play acoustic guitar and mandolin; both have years of experience on the bluegrass, folk, and acoustic music scenes in Italy; and in the late '90s they both picked together in the traditional bluegrass band Lost in Bluegrass, of which Luca was a founder member.

Luca learned flat-picking from guitar wizard Beppe Gambetta, and succeeded Beppe as guitarist for Red Wine, with whom he made four American tours, played at the major bluegrass festivals in Europe and the USA, and recorded on their 2008 album Winter’s come and gone. His experience in Red Wine and other bands enabled him to develop his technique and personal style by meeting and playing with many great guitarists.

Ivo's musical knowledge (says Luca) is so extensive that there is no label, producer, or obscure performer that doesn’t ring a bell with him. He is also an outstanding guitar player in flat-picking or finger-style; a talented songwriter (see the video link to his 'Weather dancers' below); and a singer who has been complimented by Malcolm Holcombe and Greg Trooper.

Eighteen years ago the two first discussed the idea of a duo act in which they would play their favourite stuff and become rich and famous. 'Well,' says Luca, 'we’re still working on the "rich and famous" part.' The central ideas of the project, though, remain the same:

... to run on the 'blue highway' of the American songwriters: Townes Van Zandt, Jeffrey Foucault, Steve Earle, Kelly Joe Phelps, Malcolm Holcombe, Eric Bibb, Darrell Scott, Gillian Welch, and many others, some of them not so famous in Europe (especially in Italy). We also try to 'translate' for acoustic guitars some more rock stuff, like Tom Petty or John Fogerty or Elvis himself, always trying to put them with the sound of our own. We’ve also written some songs to create something new and more representative of what we are and what we play.

Our main goal - not considering having fun; that is the essential reason - is to bring to the people a 'vintage' sound with quite modern songs. So we use a single mic, we have no plug-in instruments, we want our music to come out as intimate as possible, like being sitting on a sofa and listening to a friend playing. All these elements make what me and Ivo call Late Night Music…

I know everything sounds a little too philosophic, but playing acoustic music here in Italy is more like a mission. People are still surprised a lot by the fact that they can hear everything even if we’re playing, singing, and moving around a single mic, and you don’t have to break any glass with the volume of the instruments…

We’ve spent a lot of years attending to festivals, listening to musicians in little clubs, and we learn something from everyone. Now we’re ready to play our music and leave our very small and personal message in the world of music, playing with feelings, without any cliché - only the respect of the tradition and the desire of making music, only the two of us and a single mic. We put together folk, Americana music, rock, blues, bluegrass and roots music, everything spiced up with some irony and the sound of our own, a little different formula that we love to call 'Late Night Music'.

Late Night can be contacted through their Facebook page or by e-mailing Luca, who also sends these YouTube links to performance videos showing the range of 'Late Night Music'. The first is an example of Ivo's songwriting.

'Weather dancers' (Ivo Sposaro)
'Walking the blues again' (Eric Bibb)
'The cape' (Guy Clark)
'Miner's refrain' (Gillian Welch)
'Fortunate son' (John Fogerty)

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