Monday, 26 September 2011

EMILIA - ROMAGNA (part 2)

South-East of Bologna, in the past the area called ROMAGNA, including the cities of FORLI', CESENA, RAVENNA, RIMINI and the Republic of San Marino, gave us bands such as Guercia and Foglie di Vetro. This area is best known for its discotheques and for its entertainment industry and in the seventies one of these discotheques, L’altro mondo, became famous for the jam sessions of many prog artists. Forlì is the birthplace of guitarist Riccardo Zappa (Official Website), an interesting artist that started his career in the seventies and who is still active today.



The current prog scene of Romagna features bands such as the excellent Una Volta Eravamo in Sette (MySpace) who in 2010 released a self produced debut concept album, La ballata del vecchio marinaio, inspired by the poetry of Samuel T. Coleridge, then there are Le Ore Devianti (MySpace), Il Vaso di Pandora (Facebook), Silver Linings (Facebook), the hard Buttered Bacon Biscuits (MySpace), Witchwood (Facebook.com) the psychedelic Kisses From Mars (MySpace), Pater Nembrot (Facebook), Desert Wizards (Facebook) and Tangerine Stoned (Facebook), the post rock projects Neil On Impression (MySpace) and Venezia (MySpace), the dark, heavy Witchfield (MySpace) and the prog folk Araba Fenice (MySpace).


And now let’s take the Via Aemilia heading north west and visit the other cities in the region. First we go to MODENA, the city of the famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti and of the painter Walter Mac Mazzieri, whose works appear on some famous prog album covers. Here we can find the hard, psychedelic Donkey Breeder (MySpace) and an intrumental prog-jazz project called Pocket Size Universe (Facebook). From Modena there also comes a popular folk rock band called Modena City Ramblers (MySpace). Although they can hardly be classified as a prog band, their committed “combat folk” has been very influential on the recent Italian prog-folk scene.


Then we go to REGGIO EMILIA, the birthplace of poet Ludovico Ariosto. This place is home to bands such as Mangala Vallis (Official Website), Trama Sonora (Official Website), Master Experience (MySpace), Arcanoise (MySpace), Anabasi Road (Facebook) and a folk rock project called Matelda (MySpace). Not far from Reggio Emilia there is the castle of Canossa. On the initiative of drummer and founder member of Mangala Vallis Gigi Cavalli Cocchi a prog rock opera, Canossa, was released in 2006 which was inspired by the character of Matilda of Canossa, featuring Mangala Vallis, Arcanoise, Master Experience, Trama Sonora and others. By the way, Gigi Cavalli Cocchi has recently teamed up with vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti and keyboardist Cristiano Roversi and now they are working on a new project called Cavalli Cocchi, Lanzetti & Roversi (Facebook).


The nearby town of Novellara gave us one of the most popular Italian pop-rock bands, I Nomadi (Official Website) who in the early seventies released (as almost everyone else in Italy in that period) some albums with soft prog influences that might be of interest to prog lovers. From Reggio Emilia to PARMA, the city of orchestra conductor Arturo Toscanini and of famous opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. In the seventies Parma gave us Rocky’s Filj and Acqua Fragile. Franz Dondi, bassist and founder member of Acqua Fragile is still active and is trying to keep the band alive with a renewed line-up under the name Acqua Fragile Project (MySpace). Other contemporary prog bands from this city are the very interesting Altare Thotemico (MySpace), Strato's (Facebook) and the emerging SlideA (MySpace) and Unreal City (MySpace).



We conclude our visit to Emilia-Romagna in PIACENZA. The current prog scene of this city features an interesting band, Wicked Minds (MySpace), who started in 1987 as a trash metal act and only in 2000, after keyboardist Paolo “Apollo” Negri had joined with his Hammond, found a “new dimension” which is more hard-progressive oriented and the band has released some very interesting works. Other local bands that deserve mentioning are Mindflower (MySpace), Art And Illusion (MySpace), David’s Lodgers (MySpace), Active Heed (Facebook), Nightcross (Facebook) and the experimental Pertegò (MySpace). I also recommend listening to an excellent band called Lagartija (Bandcamp) and the emerging Big Muff Project (MySpace).