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Playing Pop Rock at the Blues Jam of the Fermento in Milan

September 5, 2014

fermento milan

fermento milan

MILAN, Italy – When I arrived pretty late last night at the Fermento Art&Pub in Milan for the Thursday night jam, my heart fell. I turned out my friend Lucio Omar Falco, the friendly bass player who organizes the jam, was still on vacation. The waitress told me there would be a jam if some musicians showed up, but otherwise, not. And I thought it just might be my only chance to play on a stage in Milan this weekend, and there it was, as good as gone.

But I stuck around to eat my dinner, since I was starving, and it was late. I had the great idea to try a veal cutlet, since in previous years when I had been there, I had made bad choices on the pizza. So I got one of the best veal cutlets and a side dish of mushrooms like I’d never had before, and that was the beginning of things looking up, luck turning around.

Soon, I saw musicians arriving with guitar cases, bass cases, drumsticks, you name it. And then I saw a drummer setting up the drum set to his liking. The lights went on over the stage, and soon, before I’d even finished eating my apple pie desert, the Fermento as I knew it from previous years, had woken up into a fabulous blues jam, pub and restaurant.

It’s a vast room that winds around in a horseshoe shape, so those who want to listen to the music can stay on the stage side of the horseshoe, and the others go elsewhere. I enjoyed several groups of jammers going up and then I said to myself, “OK, you have what you want…but you don’t play any blues.” In years past, Lucio had helped me through that hump. But this time, knowing none of the musicians, I was worried: Where do I find my place in a blues jam with pop rock folk on an acoustic guitar.

I nevertheless decided to ask a few questions, and before I knew it, I was on the stage leading my numbers with a great drummer and bass player backing me. It turned out the drummer, Fabio, not only plays in a rock band, but also in a French-style Gypsy jazz band. Music’s music, right?

So I played Wicked Game, Crazy Love, Mad World and finished off with I Won’t Back Down, by Tom Petty. It was no petty moment. I had an amazingly wonderful time, and the band and audience encouraged me to continue after each song. It just didn’t matter that it wasn’t classic electric blues. It was music, right?

Someone made a video of my performance on the Tom Petty song, below – hmm… now I know what it feels like to get hit by one of these!!!

Like I think I say every year, I’ll be back to Fermento next year, if I pass through again.

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