Rome, Italy 30/05- 01/06/14
There is no half way to describe formidable events like these, in which all you can taste is the delicacy of raw, wild, honest talent and passion. The Mojo Station Festival is an idea of Gianluca Diana and Pietropaolo Moroncelli, who know each other since 30-odd years and love the blues straight to the bone to the point of self-finance the whole event just for the love of music and blues in particular. A story made of endless visits to Mississippi and New Orleans, purely to connect their blues DNA stronger and stronger with this part of the United States through living and breathing the sounds and the soul of the roots and bonding great relationship with musicians belonging to this well-aged but formidable genre. A project created and supported by the immense work done by Pietropaolo and Gianluca, (the latter living literally his life for the blues through writing for an Italian National Newspaper, DJing for the Italian National Radio and hosting shows in Local Radio, always in the name and love for the genre) and without whom, would have no reasons to exist.
Surrounded by an incredible array of collaborators (how to forget the kindness and passion of people like Emanuele (our driver), Gianluca Durante, Luca Prospero etc.), the Festival has celebrated an important birthday in the best way possible; from our Italian biggest shining stars like Angelo "Leadbelly" Rossi, Dead Shrimp (long time friends of Bluebirdreviews) and Marco Pandolfi to world-class blues artists like Cedric Burnside and Reed Turchi, in a three-days kermesse which has not generated just the interest of hundreds of passionate music lover coming from Rome but from the whole country and even from abroad (Yours Truly even bumped in people coming from Israel!).
Many American friends are certainly familiar with class acts such as the Cedric Burnside Project (Cedric has won 4 times the Blues Music Award as best drummer worldwide) but a lot should be told about the potential of the Italian Bluesmen. Angelo "Leadbelly" Rossi has been "On the road" for many years, collaborated with many artists worldwide but somehow, despite an enormous talent, never been appreciated enough overseas for his incredible skills as a guitarist and a singer. Marco Pandolfi is perhaps the best harmonica player that Italy currently has; just try to listen to his last album No Dog In This Hunt and you will understand why. Dead Shrimp are authentic stage phenomenon; try to go to one of their gigs and you will understand why! The success of their debut album just gives you a hint of what Sergio, Alessio e Gianluca can produce in their live performances.
To top the fabulous atmosphere of the Mojo Station Festival special birthday, Frankie Chavez, Cedric Burnside Project and Reed Turchi offered some extraordinary performances that really sparkled the entire festival; Cedric and his guitarist, Trenton Ayers in particular, offered a show that the Romans won't forget for a very long time; together with playing Hear Me When I Say (their latest release) almost in its entirety, the two musicians have been joined onstage by the special guest Marco Pandolfi and Angelo "Leadbelly" Rossi, to close a two-hours set that incorporated all the elements of the blues humanly imaginable.
Reed Turchi, on the other end, closed the festival with real fireworks; his last album Can't Bury Your Past, is one of the most innovative and straight-from-the-heart blues album one can hear around at the moment. Joined on stage only by the drummer Gianluca Giannasso (Dead Shrimp) Reed Turchi on stage played his album and some back-catalogue tracks stripped to the bone, showing the audience the incredible talent of a young musician that understand the concept of blues and stretches the limits of the genre in territories where the listeners can find themselves immersed in a fabulous pastiche that, in years to come, may easily represent the future of this 100-years old fabulous music genre.
I would like to close my brief report on this fabulous event through the words of Gianluca Diana, DJ and co-organizer of the whole event: "The people are the Festival, we just put in every ounce of our soul into it".
A story of love, passion, determination, belief. Mojo Station Festival is this and beyond. A true demonstration that people can really make a difference, love is all you need.
P.S. The interviews to Cedric Burnside and Reed Turchi will be soon published on Bluebirdreviews.com. A massive "thank you" to the organization of Mojo Station Festival and to Gianluca and Pietropaolo most of all.