Latina (formerly Littoria) and Pontinia are relatively young towns in Italy created in the 1930s by the then in power Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. His regime along with its writers and architects had the marshes drained and undertook an urban planning based on modernism. Their architecture which can still be seen across Italy, designed buildings intended to submerge an individual when walking into them. To give the individual a feeling that they were irrelevant in comparison to the state or the nation. Powerless. The Italian Fascists wanted to build a society where only the future would be relevant. Their future. For them, man had reached his or her limits. Individualism was dead. Machine and technology controlled by the state would take over to drive Italy forward. Individual innovation was no longer necessary and anyway it was only there to serve the state.
History not only proved the Fascists wrong, but almost a hundred years later, a blues and rock festival which the Fascists would have labelled decadent and self-indulgent is being held in Pontinia every year.
And tell the Cinelli Brothers that improvisation and creativity stemming from the individual is dead.
My Diary Entries for 14 July -19 July 2019: Pontinia Rock & Blues Festival
Marco Cinelli of the Cinelli Brothers
Always nice to know you are going home but its especially nice when you know you are going to play in front of a hometown crowd at a summer music festival. The audience and sometimes even the performance is different.
Fly into Rome’s Ciampino airport on Sunday missing the Wimbledon final but as I told my lawyer who was watching it, “didn’t really care”. Was already thinking of the show we would be putting on Thursday night at the Pontinia Rock and Blues Festival. Reach home after a short flight and short drive from the airport but tired from Saturday’s double gig. Kissed my mom who was in the kitchen and went to bed.
Wake up on Monday morning feeling better and decide to drive into central Rome which can be an experience in itself. But hard to complain when you get a haircut at Mod Academy & Salons in Rome. It's located right in front of the Spanish Steps. Lawyer gets jealous about that. Being at the Spanish Steps that is, not the haircut part. Emanuele who is more an artist than a hair dresser decides that our drummer who is also my brother Alessandro needs to have his hair bleached a bit in order to look like a proper rock ’n' roll blues drummer. He ends up looking like a Ziggy Stardust drummer. Emanuele must have been a David Bowie fan.
Once done we need to drive to the airport to pick up JJ our guitarist and harmonica player but we manage to squeeze in time with Martina (Mangialardi) another Italian ex-pat living in London who also happens to be in Rome this week. An art expert at Christie’s she still loves to talk about art with people seeing a painting or landmark for the first time.
Enzo our bassist decided to be a quint-esential rock star and flew in the day of the concert only.
It was nice having all of the band together at my parents’ home and the band must have felt comfortable as we all napped for an hour or two before going to the festival grounds to prep for the show.
It took us a couple of hours to set up the equipment and go through the sound check.
One thing the organisers and founders should be proud of, is that while the Pontinia Rock & Blues Festival may have been started to bring music and the blues to Italians, it has also over the years attracted performers from around the world with American and British musicians such as Sugar Ray Norcia, Joanna Connor, Eric Bibb, Lurrie Bell, Sonny Landreth, and Matt Schofield leading the way.
We went on stage just after 10:00 PM .
We even looked good apparently. People complimented our moves. Guess all that time practicing in front of the mirror has paid off or they were simply being kind. They also noticed and kept asking about the small stylish guitar I used. An old Eko that is modest in frame and which I modified at the neck to get the specific sound I wanted. It worked. The sound was as amazing as it was different maybe even distinctive.
People ask whether performing a concert in front of your hometown, family, and friends is like any other concert. No it is not and it can’t be. You turn it up a notch especially when your Dad is in the audience and he is the one who took a broken old plywood board that used to be a guitar, cleaned it, fixed it, and brought it back to life as the stylish small Eko guitar everyone was asking about.
The next day I am really tired while waiting for the flight back to London to play another Saturday night double bill. I was already thinking of our Brazil tour.