This is a Mexican saying, that literally translates to “full stomach, happy heart”: it sums up my recent travels to Mexico pretty well.
A short escape for EchoTest, crammed in between Julie Slick’s busy touring schedule with Adrian Belew, with shows and clinics in Mexico City and the beautiful town of Morelia. It was my first time in that corner of the world and, although a short visit, I made the best out of it. Also thanks to our booking agent there, Julia Zenteno (and all of her team), who took great care of us and made sure we had some time to check out the surroundings and the local food, shops, cafes. I couldn’t get enough of the tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and… grasshoppers. Okay, not really – I have tried one, but I wasn’t impressed. That same night, Julie ordered mezcal and it came with lime slices. The slices had small red dots on them, which we all thought was paprika. Julie later discovered they were tiny little worms – by then, they were safe and sound in her stomach.
The shows were quite good. I think we sounded tight. We only had a few hours to practice – the day after me and Alessandro landed (heavily jet-lagged), but we managed to put together a live version of the new song Tiger Races, from our latest release Daughter of Ocean. The tour was also a way to reconvene with SOLS, the project lead by Julia Zenteno for which I had recorded some bass and effects back in September 2018, and I was invited to join the band on stage, along with the super talented guitarist Mylets (who also opened the concerts) and his girlfriend/collaborator Andrea Calderon on violin. It was a great line-up to tour with!
I must say I have especially enjoyed giving the masterclasses in music schools. Very vibrant, receptive audiences. Mostly young musicians, not afraid to ask questions (usually people at clinics are very shy, and they ask most of the questions when the event is over). We gave our best, even though it was difficult at times to deal with the jet-lag and a bit of altitude sickness (Mexico City and Morelia have an elevation of 2500m and 1920m respectively). My voice also suffered a bit from the sudden climate change (it is pretty warm there right now) and the lack of sleep. It took the whole week to adjust, then we had to leave! I hope I will have more time on my next visit. It was definitely great to play our first shows of 2019 in such a beautiful country, together with a group of special people.
In the meantime, I have released a brand new piece, Holding On: I’m not writing an album at the moment, but this one sounded like a very good composition and I thought “why not putting it out as a single”? As soon as I got the first demo down, I felt the tune needed some Tony Levin upright bass work. I had written the bassline but I thought Tony would be a much better fit for it; therefore I asked him if he wanted to record the bass part. He did! Coincidentally, he was on a break from touring the world with King Crimson, so I got his tracks pretty quickly. What a pleasure and honour to have Tony on a song I have written (it happened one other time: on my Dime Novels album, on the track Out of The Blue).
Holding On is available on Spotify and on all other digital outlets (Apple Music, Google, Tidal, etc), but I would appreciate if you could download the song from my Bandcamp store. As usual, it’s the best way to fund me. As a matter of fact, I have started a Bandcamp subscription service. Check out this link to learn more about the VIP membership. There is a nice introductory video where I explain everything. Those who’ll subscribe will be treated with a lot of exclusive material. For instance, this new digital EP…
… that contains another new song which is available to subscribers only (thanks to those who have subscribed so far!). It’s called UPON and it is a collaborative effort between me, drummer Pat Mastelotto and the amazing songwriter Rob Fetters. I had collaborated before with Pat and Rob on my song Days of Summertime (from my first album One Time, Somewhere), so it was nice to put this small team together again. Also, the EP features a new mix of Days of Summertime produced by my collaborator EUGENE, and another deconstructed mix of the same song that highlights the original string arrangement written by Francesco Zampi.
If you decide to subscribe you will get immediate access to this and a lot more. I have a number of releases planned for the near future. Don’t miss out!
Ciao for now.