Sunday, February 06, 2005

Brown Shoes Don't Make It

Bought new shoes yesterday.

If this was an ordinary blog, you'd be seeing a picture of the new shoes taken with an expensive digital camera. But i don't have a digital camera, so no pictures of shoes.
Instead, here are some pictures from last sunday's big event, the Grandmothers in Trieste.

The first two pictures are from the conference held in Ricreatorio San Giusto, in front of the castle. I reached the piazza early enough, but had some trouble finding the venue. To be precise, i found the Ricreatorio but it was locked and with no indication of ever wanting to open. After looking around for a while i leaned against a wall overlooking the town and noticed some familiar figures in the balcony beneath me: Don Preston and Roy Estrada.
I dashed around the building, finally found the entrance and entered the hall where the event would take place, which was already rather full of people. A loud, baritonal voice greeted me from behind with a resounding "Buonasera!" I answer shyly, then turn and realize that the voice's owner was none other than Napoleon Murphy Brock himself!

Napoleon, in the dark. Bespectacled, Ken Rosser.

I stood in amazement as he walked away, and eventually managed to regain enough self-control to find myself a place to sit. Don and Roy were already seated, as were Ken Rosser (their guitarist), an interpreter, PFM drummer Franz Di Cioccio and music critic Riccardo Bertoncelli. As the conference began, i took a couple of pictures from a specially chosen corner of the dimly lit room.

Roy Estrada, in the sky, and Don Preston, in the dark. Did i mention how bad the illumination was?

The conference was quite pleasant, and lasted about an hour. Napoleon hardly spoke, since he wanted to keep his voice for the show ("I sing about 90% of the songs"). Roy and Don were more talkative, retelling their first encounters with Frank Zappa at first, answering questions from the audience later. Even yours truly had a chance to have his say, asking Roy about his stint as Bass player in Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. Just mentioning this to him made him explode in laughter, which was already an answer in itself. Don had a few words to add, and i think his precise quote deserves to be shared:

Don: "I just wanna say this: I never played with beefheart but I knew him, I met him a number of times. My experience with him was that he talked, you know, when you met him on the street, he sounded just like the lyrics! Yeah, his conversations were just like the way he wrote lyrics!"
(He pauses, as the interpreter translates into italian)
Don continues: "He would say something like...
Roy: "where'd you just get that??"
Interpreter: "..."

Hilarity ensues.
Another nice moment was when guitarist Ken Rosser, who had kept quiet throughout the procedures, was asked what it felt to play alongside former members of the Mothers of Invention. His answer was extremely appropriate: Playing the music of Frank Zappa with Napoleon or Don or Roy was to him very much like playing the music of Charlie Parker with Miles Davis or Max Roach. I liked that.

When the musicians left for the soundcheck, we stayed another hour listening to Franz DiCioccio and Riccardo Bertoncelli reminisce about their own particularly embarrassing encounters with the late Mr. Zappa. Nothing i hadn't already heard about, since they've both written about these events, but fun to listen to nonetheless.
I left before the ending, because i had to find empty tapes for the concert. I walked out, removed the conference poster (they wouldn't be needing it anymore anyway: it's lying on the sofa behind me as i type), and walked back down to Piazza Unità to find reasonable ways of transport towards whatever could've been open in Trieste on a sunday. Centro Commerciale Giulia seemed to be a good option. So i go to a tobacconists', buy a bus ticket, go to the bus stop, wait a couple of minutes and then tell myself:
"No, wait, i have a car."
So i walked back to where i'd parked it and made my way towards the shopping center.
As usual, driving through Trieste made me break the law a number of times, and of course my cellphone kept ringing throughout. How i hate Trieste traffic.

I'll continue with this story later, with the concert and the aftermath. Better-looking pictures also await you, although in some of them the effect is spoiled by my presence.

End of part one.