Monday, November 11, 2013

Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai in concert in Padua, Italy October 3rd, 2013

Fifty-three year old guitar virtuoso Steve Vai played in front of a sell-out crowd in Padu. Steve Vai, an American guitarist, songwriter and producer of Italian descent, played in front of 3,000 people at the Geox Theater in Padua, Italy.   Vai’s Italian show “only” consisted of an amazing high-voltage 2 hour and 50 minute performance.    

After starting his career with Frank Zappa, Vai recorded and toured in Zappa's band for two years, from 1980 to 1982. He began a solo career in 1983 and has won three Grammy Awards. Vai has also sold so far over 15 million albums.  Vai has also recorded and toured with PIL, Alcatrazz, Whitesnake and David Lee Roth.   He began playing guitar at the age of 13 in 1973 after listening to Jimmy Page’s solo on Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker”.    

The following year he took guitar lessons from another great guitarist, none other than Joe Satriani.   His influences have been Page, Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix and also Jeff Beck. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Patti Smith enchants an enchanting city, Venice July 27, 2013

Patricia Lee Smith, known to the entire world as simply Patti Smith, entertained Venetians in a splendid outdoor theatre in front of St. Mark’s Square Supported by long-time member (he joined Smith in 1974), guitarist-bassist Lenny Kaye, the 67 year-old “Godmother of Punk” played in sweltering heat (35 Celsius at 9 pm) and humidity for 90 minutes at the splendid Teatro Verde on the island of San Giorgio, located in front of St. Mark’s Square.  

Smith graced fans with “Gloria”, “Because The Night”, co-written with another outstanding musician, Bruce Springsteen (Smith told fans that in 1978 she had been the guest of Isabella Rossellini, the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Italian movie director Roberto Rossellini, in Venice, her very first time to the enchanting city.  She spoke about wanting a child.  Isabella told her that she had to throw a shoe into the Grand Canal and then go to a church to make a wish.  She did just that and soon after her son was born.  She said that the song was in “Honor of her son’s father”.  The song?  “Because the Night”) and every Patti Smith fans’ all-time favorite song, “People Have The Power”.  And while in Rome in April of this year Smith was greeted by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.

Her newest album, “Banga”, was released in early June 2012 with critical acclaim.  This concert in Venice was brought to us thanks to the folks at Three birds with one stone: Smith was playing in Venice not only during the city’s famous “Biennale” international art show but a near-tragedy could have happened:  the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship was docked in Venice.  The ship weighs 102,000 tons, is 272 meters long, 35 meters wide and 62 meters tall (equivalent to a four-story building).  On its way into the basin it came dangerously close (some people say as close as 20 meters) from St. Mark’s pier (St. Mark’s Square being Venice’s most famous).  The “safety zone” for the gigantic cruise ships is 72 meters.  That day docked in Venice was also the personal yacht, the “Siron III”, which belongs to Micky Arison, who just happens to be the president of the Carnival Corporation, which owns the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship…   

Residents and anti-cruise ship committee members have for some time now been waging their own personal war against these cruise ships which pass right in front of St. Mark’s Square (which once hosted directly in front of the pier on a floating barge that infamous Pink Floyd concert with 300,000 fans that were directly in front on the famous square.  That concert eventually brought down Venice’s entire city council as inadequate washroom service had been provided to the fans that day).  Going at a mere 4 knots with a tonnage of over 100,000 tons, a cruise ship, if it were to loose control or if their were a malfunction (or even a terrorist attack) would not certainly be able to stop on a dime, and would no doubt totally destroy St. Mark’s Square and the adjacent Palazzo Ducale. A catastrophe just waiting to take place one day in THE most magical city in the world?

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Some of the rather interesting churches in Italy and around the world.