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A Musical Experience in Milan – or Rather, in the Paddock at Monza… Joan Thiele

September 1, 2016

Joan ThieleMONZA, Italy – So far so horrible on the level of my open mic experiences in Milan. Followers of this blog will have noticed – or not – that in the last few years I have mostly been playing on Thursday night at a blues jam in a bar/restaurant called Fermento. Well, this year, this very night in fact, that jam don’t exist no more!!!! But I have had a really, really fun and very cool musical experience in Italy in the least expected of places: In the Formula One paddock in Monza, where I do my day job this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix. How so? It gets kind of long and complicated, so I’ll skip that for the moment, but let me just say that the experience was all about a mini-concert given in the motor home of one of the Formula One teams, by an Italian singer-songwriter by the name of Joan Thiele. I’ll try to get the rest of that story down here in as few words as possible, but that won’t be easy….

So it turns out that the Formula One team, called Manor, has as one of its sponsors, the music app called Shazam. And it turns out that Shazam is doing few little mini concerts around the world in conjunction with Formula One. (Does that sound like an alternative to the tiny desk concerts on NPR??!! In a way it is!) And it turns out that they try to use a local musician each time. So, as the PR woman at Manor knew that I was interested in music, she asked me if I had seen they were going to have a mini-motor-home-concert in Monza tonight. As it turned out, a sucker for the image of a microphone, I had indeed noticed this playbill outside the motorhome not three minutes before.
Joan Thiele – Save Me

So I went to the mini motorhome concert and found that, on the top floor of the motorhome – henceforth to be called a hospitality suite – they had set up a beautiful little playing area for the musician. There was a Fender Stratocaster, a ukulele, a couple of amplifiers, a microphone, and a mixing table. I felt envy and desire to go and play. Until I heard the musician, and said, no, I just want to listen to this. Enter Joan Thiele. What a mix of everything: A father who is Swiss, Italian, Canadian, Colombian, and who knows what all else, and Joan’s mother also a mix from one or two of those areas, and Joan having grown up partly in Colombia, but living in Italy now, and having spent two or three years in England, and learning her trade at open mics etc., this woman of – I think – 22 years old, got up with her Strat and used it as a kind of electro-music surrogate, and her voice too. Vocals that reminded me to a degree of Lana del Ray, and a sound that goes in that same direction – that’s my feeling, but there’s much more (in fact, I had a colleague who thought one of the songs reminded him of, “Down on my knees, I’m beggin’ ya…) – I listened quite hypnotised to the five or six songs she played. (Another colleague said she had Brooke Shield’s eyebrows.)
Joan Thiele – Taxi Driver

And I suddenly found myself forgetting I was in the Formula One paddock. As it turned out, I need not forget this: The Formula One paddock is a hugely diverse place. And it also turns out, then, that in that world, another of the reasons that we had Joan Thiele – who is working on her first album, and her A&R person from Universal Music was there with her – is also represented by Trident Management, which is a management and promotions agency that also owns one of the Formula One support race teams in the series known as GP2, the Trident Motorsport team. So it all suddenly fit together, in a way. Trident also represents two very well-know Italian musicians, Eros Ramazzotti and Jovanotti.
Joan Thiele – Hotline Bling

In any case, the other thing that fits together is that this being within the Formula One paddock, I, as a print media man with a print media pass, cannot use the video I made of Joan’s hypnotizing performance. The Formula One promoter sells audio visual rights to the television and radio companies for huge sums of money, and that then means that print media journalists cannot use any audio visual footage – or sound files – that they gather in the paddock, without fear of huge problems.

So my recordings will have to wait for the future. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to cut and paste some of Joan Thiele’s music videos that I find on the web into the blog to show who it was I got to hear and speak to today in the Formula One paddock and feel that from a musical point of view, my trip to Italy, even if it wreaps no musical stage-time for me, will have been fulfilling in another way! A nice discovery. Check her out, Joan Thiele.

Playing at the Toro Loco in Monza

September 10, 2011

Since I began doing this musical adventure along with my travel to the Formula One races I had always more or less crossed off my list of potential places to play my music the actual location of the Italian Grand Prix: Monza. What chance would there be of playing in a jam or open mic in Monza? This is a very cool location, the track is one of the most historic in Formula One. But no, the idea was I would find a place to play in Milan, of which Monza is basically a suburb. Last night I ended up playing in Monza!

I have found in my third year on this musical adventure around the world that I have been playing in more and more places on each trip, discovering more and more venues and musicians, and the Monza story is part of that same movement. Having written off not only Monza but Milan itself, this year I managed to find a cool jam at the Fermento Art&Pub bar on Thursday and there the musicians invited me to come and listen to them play at the Toro Loco (crazy bull) restaurant in Monza the following night, last night. And they also said that if I wanted to play some songs with them, I could do that. So I went!

And it turned out to be a fabulous evening. The Toro Loco, as I was told, had fabulous food, was not expensive, was large, friendly, and had a cute little stage. There was a team from the GP3 series eating there too, as it is so close to the race track. I also saw someone from the Red Bull team, I believe.

The Toro Loco is located about 10 minutes drive maximum from the circuit, and just around the roundabout where I saw Jenson Button’s father apparently staying in hotel – which I dropped into as I tried to figure out where the Toro Loco was.

In any case, the band played beautifully, then invited me up and I did “Mad World” again, as we had done it the night before. And I played my song “Memories,” as it seemed an easy one for everyone to play to without rehearsal. I played acoustic while the others played harmonica, bass and lead. And I sang, of course.

A fabulous moment of a dream come true – kind of like when I finally found a place to play in Monaco….

Brad Spurgeon and Eric Clapton at the Belgian Grand Prix

Brad Spurgeon and Eric Clapton at the Belgian Grand Prix

And today at the track, Russell Batchelor, an F1 photographer, sent me a photo of me interviewing Eric Clapton at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago. What a great mixture of music and racing this weekend….

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