... Sweet comic Quarantine...
It sounded like an appropriate "jingle" for this post as long as I was convinced that the pronunciation of "Quarantine" was similar to "Valentine" (Full disclosure, I am Italian, and like many others until very recently I had never had the need to use this word in English before :P).
Despite my disappointment in discovering that it is pronounced "quarantiiin" and not "quarantain", I will still indulge this poetic license and sing that lovely chorus my way. :D
I suspect the reason these (alternative) lyrics found their way into my head in the last few weeks is because, to me, they felt very real.
Obviously, I am worried about the general situation of the world today, and I have friends who directly experienced the suffering brought by the virus.
But I feel lucky saying that, thank God, my quarantine has been funny in some way, and it is still going on in the best way I could imagine: I am reading a lot, watching amazing documentaries and movies, rehearsing online with my choir, smelling colorful flowers, watching the birds in my garden, working out every day (!!) and... discovering a lot of great artists while I help out GigsGuide organize the listings and promoting online gigs from all over the world.
My virtual trips to Paradise City have opened up a world of wonderful new music. And now, I'd love to share 5 of my best quarantine discoveries with you.
We post daily "suggestions" on GigsGuide's Facebook and Twitter pages, so in these last two months I have sifted through hundreds of gigs listings.
One of the criteria I adopted to choose the ones to promote was "the weird name" (I know, it is not so fair, but in this case it worked!).
When I read some more information about Persian Pelican, I was happy to find out that this is the musical project of an Italian song-writer, Andrea Pulcini.
I like the versatility of his voice, the way he whispers sometimes while singing, and the delicate sound of the guitar, which prevails in most of his arrangements.
This guy is full of energy! He has been doing online gigs and guitar tutorials from his house during the whole quarantine. Frank Turner perfectly seized the opportunities of live-streamed performances to keep in touch with his fan base and grow it!
Like Francesco, I am so looking forward to go to see him live as soon as we are allowed to travel again and go to live concerts.
When I first listened to the song in the video, I thought the lyrics perfectly represented the spirit of all the people sharing music from their windows and balconies, a longing to feel as one in this period of social distancing.
And I still believe in the need,
For guitars and drums and desperate poetry.
And I still believe that everyone,
Can find a song for every time they've lost and every time they've won.
So just remember folks we not just saving lives, we're saving souls,
And we're having fun.
As a soprano choir-singer, I am usually surrounded by voices in the same range as mine, and I tend to listen to female singers I can vocally relate to.
So I was gladly surprised by the deep and vibrant voice of Frida Selander, which ranges more in the alto area, enriched by a gentle but fiery touch on the guitar.
Her chest register is so resonant and powerful! This kind of listening is quite helpful when you want to explore the potentials of your own voice, and that's what I did, trying to sing along with her.
The Kay Brothers
Irish traditional music and American country music have always had a special place in my heart.
Once I started playing The Kay Brothers, I was instantly hooked and could not stop dancing. Their sound is shaped by a broad register of musical instruments: upright bass, guitar, tenor banjo, fiddle, cello, ukulele, harmonica, congas, shakers, and an array of foot percussion.
I love the description of the band on their Facebook page:
"The mission: to preserve the rural music of our forefathers and mothers that used to fill the wooden barns that once dotted the countryside on Saturday night and the small family churches on Sunday morning. That party is still going on.... it’s in your blood."
Even though my roots are not in Missouri but in the south of Italy, I can totally relate with this sense of belonging to my family and its rural music (aka tarantella :P). It's in my blood!
As for the first one, the name of this artist is what caught my attention at first. Just three uppercase letters: AHI (in Italian, an expression often used when you walk barefoot on a piece of lego).
Another element turned on my curiosity: his hat.
Then I started listening to some of his songs and... Wooow! I was totally captured by his scratchy and soulful voice, while I could also identify myself in the lyrics.
I had that rare feeling that occurs when it seems that what you hear singing is the heart of a person more than the vocal cords. I think that's what souls connection is all about, and when it happens through music it is even more powerful!
Before writing this post, I checked the FAQ on his website and I found out that:
- AHI are the initials of his name - Ahkinoah Habah Izarh - well, thanks for simplifying our lives!
- What he wears is an Equestrian hat, and there is a great story behind it... Hope to hear it when I will go to see him live!
... And some familiar faces
My regular commute to Paradise City has also offered me the opportunity to make some unforgettable memories that would have been quite impossible "in the real world".
For instance, this year I was among the lucky guests invited to Glen Hansard's birthday party at home, on April 21th.
He celebrated his 50th birthday with thousands of people tuned in on his Instagram profile, telling stories, sharing the screen with Eddie Vedder (!) for a few minutes, and singing some of his beautiful songs. It was so crowded and intimate at the same time, that I shed some tears of joy as I felt part of something unique. Who would have thought?
Beyond my expectation, this virtual experience is giving me a lot, both in terms of knowledge of the music scene worldwide and emotions that I can share with old and new friends even if we can't physically see each other.
We all know we are going through hard times, but music can always make miracles, keeping people together despite every restriction and comforting souls against every fear.
Headline Picture by Wes Hicks