Live Music (and the art of showing up early)

I was invited to listen to some live music last week, and the invitation said that it began at 8:00 p.m.

Like an idiot, I showed up at 8:10 p.m. I thought this was rather fashionable of me, to be 10 minutes late. I’m normally a compulsively early person.

But silly me.  This is Italy, so when they said 8:00 p.m., what the event organizers really meant was 10:00 p.m.

And if the music starts at 10:00 p.m., that means the musicians will start wandering towards the venue at around 10:20 p.m., sipping beers and lighting cigars. They’ll look at their instruments and equipment as if they’re surprised to see such things.

Ah  – since they are here, they might as well play.

It’s fantastic. It didn’t even matter that I was so early because by the time they started tuning their instruments, I was a plate of pasta and half a bottle of red wine into my evening, and Amelia was dizzy with excitement that I was letting her drink a regular Coke when she should be in bed.

This is Live in Barga – 10 days of music in various piazzas around town. I’m amazed at the ability of my neighbors to stay up so late. I’m normally in my pajama pants at 10:00 p.m., but when in Rome…

We have heard blues, jazz, a bit of reggae, some great rock and acoustic. The Aristodemo’s, a legendary local band, were especially fabulous to watch last Friday night. When they did Tu vuò fà l’americano (You Want to Be American), the well-known Neapolitan swing song, I felt like I was in a club with Matt Damon and Jude Law in “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

It’s not just the music. There are stands selling crepes with nutella. There’s cotton candy, vendors selling jewelry, cocktails. Mini-bars have been set up all over the place, where you can get a beer, a prosecco, maybe a shot of grappa, or – bizarrely – a mojito. Everyone is in a good mood and you find yourself running into people you know. Finally, we aren’t just those odd American tourists. We’re part of this.

The music still echoes through the village when we drag ourselves home. We sleep with the windows open and things rarely get quiet before 3:00 a.m.

Summer was made for late nights and good music and stars within an arm’s reach of the mountaintops.

Tonight, we’re heading out to hear a swing quintet and you’ll be happy to know I don’t plan on leaving the house until 9:30.


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