Last night, with great anticipation, my husband Sabin and I took the subway down to Bleecker Street. We made our way to the basement of number 45, where Subculture NYC was hosting Calabrian musician Peppe Voltarelli. Peppe is a friend of Sabin’s, which is why we weren’t sculpting–we usually work at night, but we took the night off for Peppe.

There was a lively crowd, mostly Italians, all happily keyed up to listen to this unique and wonderful singer. I was excited, too. I love Peppe’s music, which is a combination of rocked up folk songs and original ballads and other sprightly tunes.

@Subculture_NYC tweeted it best, and I happily favorited and retweeted: Tonight! Italian troubadour @peppevoltarelli sings his way through heartache and triumph. Tix: http://bit.ly/R3ByxQ  pic.twitter.com/Y1Cjhug9lC

We shook Peppe’s hand in the Green Room before the show, and Sabin and Peppe chatted in Italian. I couldn’t resist the impulse to show Peppe a picture of my daughter, who is a huge fan of his. Peppe was gracious and agreeable about her, as only an Italian can be about someone else’s children.

Peppe opened the show with Sta Città, and I almost rushed the stage, I was so delighted! At home, we blast that song on our speakers at least once a week. “Tickety ta, sh-boom!”

The consummate entertainer, he played the guitar while singing, then switched to piano for a few songs, telling us that the Steinway on stage would suit his Calabrian dialect “like jazz lives in New Orleans.” Some of the songs were in dialect, one was even in German. All were spirited and the audience joined in, clapping and hollering and sometimes singing along.

One rousing tune concerned anarchists, and how they get knocked down and keep popping back up. That song fired my heart with joy. I consider myself an anarcho-capitalist these days. I can’t abide the culture of dependency and entitlement and big brother NSA spying thuggery that the Democrats promote, nor can I align myself with the “let’s protect our money and prevent women and gay people from having rights” mindset of the Republicans. American politics has sadly degenerated into a sham of democracy, and it’s the end of the American empire and Pax Americana as we drift further and further off course, away from the noble ideals of our founding fathers.

But there’s music to soothe my unease, the warm-hearted, human music of Peppe Voltarelli. I recommend it to everyone.

By the way, if you haven’t seen his song Italiani Superstar on Youtube, check it out! It’s a splendid example of what music can be: human, community-oriented, wry, heartfelt, and engaging at the same time. It’s music for the soul.
http://youtu.be/EhuMUjL09Qo

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Traci L. Slatton

Author Traci L. Slatton is a graduate of Yale and Columbia, and the award-winning, internationally published author of a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

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