Peppe Voltarelli, an Artist-in-Residence in New York City.
As a New Yorker, I count myself fortunate to be able to enjoy the city’s embarrassment of cultural riches. And as someone appreciative of contemporary Italian culture, I am thrilled that Italian singer-songwriter Peppe Voltarelli is here in the city as artist-in-residence for four Saturdays at Barbès in
Park Slope, Brooklyn. Voltarelli has dubbed this residency “Il viaggio, I padri, L’appartenenza”—The Voyage, the Forefathers, Belonging. He will conclude his stay with a December 8th performance at Drom in Manhattan.
(This residency was organized by Mark Gartenberg of MG Limited, who has brought such acts as Vinicio Capossela, Carmen Consoli, Jovanotti, and Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel to the United States.)
Voltarelli began last night’s performance from the back of the small performance space with an a capella chant of Otello Profazio’s “Lu me paise” (My town), in which he dramatically captured the audience’s attention and undercut the adjoining bar’s distracting cacophony. He recounted in a macaronic patter of Italian, Calabrian, Spanish (he had arrived that day from a two-week stay in Buenos Aires), and English about growing up in the Calabrian town of Crosia (Cosenza province), in which the sounds of the weekly open-aired market grounded him aurally to place.
In addition to his own compositions sung with acoustic guitar, “Lu marinaru” and “U paisi di ciucci,” Voltarelli also performed songs that shaped his artistic persona and sense of self, like Domenico Modugno’s “Lu Tambureddu,” Luciano Rossi’s “Se mi lasci non vale,” and Léo Ferré’s “Les Anarchistes.”