It's a girl!
"BTD" (bacon, tomato and devon) is a CD of our own arrangements of traditional Northern Italian folk songs, as learnt from listening to archival interviews with Italian migrants in Australia. It's not as scary as it sounds. There's something for everyone, especially fans of a good whistling solo and enthusiasts of a good chicken impersonation (John Warner 'ware!). Other fascinating details to listen out for include a hot ukulele solo, a song about smoking taught to a small boy by some nuns, an accordion which sounds remarkably like two clarinets and a solo by young Isobel Andrews and her friends.
The project came about when Rob Willis sent us a few songs on CD. He like sto do this when he unearths something interesting in his travels collecting stories and songs around the country. I have a full set of twelve from him - they make very attractive drinks coasters and they scare the birds. Oh - and they inspired us to make a CD too.
Some of the songs on the CD are very well known in Northern Italy and in fact all over the country. Others are undiscovered gems. It's satisfying to release these songs knowing that very few songs from the NORTH of Italy have made it on the Australian folk radar. The songs we generally hear are from the South, and if you're not sure what the difference is, I dare you to pop into the Australian Calabrese Association*, select a patron at random, and tell them they bear a strinking resemblance to your cousin from Venice. Make sure there are no chairs in the room.
As for the difference in the music between north and south - I'm sure many theses have been written on the subject and what would we know anyway, we're just a bunch of Aussies who listen to Tom Waits a lot. There is an obvious difference in the dialects. There are a lot of songs about going off to war (the North is closer to the European battlefields of WW I and II). There are a lot of love songs in waltz time. They sing about smoking a lot so it must be cultural.**
The CD itself was recorded in a twelve hour session at Q Studios. The Beatles recorded "Please Please Me" in the same amount of time in 1962. Just Worth Noting. Our George Martin was the Great David Gilfillan, our engineer Michelle Barry. Afterwards we all went out and got smashed.**
The CD holds hidden delights, revealed only by inserting it into one's computer. There are lyrics, translations and a little story on each song - how we came to it, where it comes from, etc.
After a launch at the National Folk Festival we plan to launch it in Sydney and hopefully take it to Italy next year. Stay tuned. And by all means make someone very happy by purchasing one as a birthday gift, a graduation pressie, or a spontaneous show of affection.
* I don't think there's such a thing.
** I invite you to smell a rat. Figuratively, or literally if that's your thing.