Rock & Roll Italy is a four-part series where Seattle musician and occasional NadaMucho.com contributor Mike Spine shares stories of his most recent international DIY tour, this one through Italy with his band At the Spine.
On April 9, I played my first solo acoustic show since Mexico City in July of 2013. I am in Reggio Emilia, a two hour and 13 Euro ride south of central Milan on the slow regional train.
The show was courtesy of my host, booker and all around super star here, a man named Nazim Comunale. We met in Bangkok last year at this massive couch-surfing operation run by a man named Toom, who hosts up to twenty couch surfers a night at a house he inherited after a car bomb killed his parents (which is a long, sad story) in the in the sprawling mess that is Bangkok. Nazim and I hit it off given our mutual interest in music, politics and so forth.
Solo acoustic shows can be tough. Folks in Seattle generally love to hear themselves talk, so quieter shows are rarely fun unless you are in the perfect venue on the perfect night. The same was true in Reggio Emilia; I played a bar/restaurant that doesn’t host regular music performances, and while there were attentive persons and tables, it was a noisy bunch. Thankfully my hosts were kind, the food was good and the money was worth my time.
The next night Nazim squeezed me on to a bill opening for Aisha Burns out of San Antonio/Austin, Texas at a new club called Dinamo. She was traveling with her partner and second guitar player, Jake, who had moved to Texas from Boston. (The two are pictured above.) We got along well, eating dinner together and talking about music, touring and traveling.
I don’t think the club manager really wanted me on the bill, he just did it as a favor to Nazim. He told me I had a twenty minute set but I played a bit longer without complaint. I was fed a good meal and given beverages, but I go no pay besides that. Aisha’s European booking agent was able to secure a guarantee for her, but I didn’t ask for the details. I’m not complaining, I could be stuck in a cubicle somewhere with a boss I don’t care for.
Of course I could have regular paychecks, employer paid benefits and the other securities of FTE life, but for now, this is what I prefer.