I recently went to the “Street Music Edition” of what used to be the Acoustic Guitar Meeting in Sarzana. The guitar making thing has been taken off to Cremona, to a trade fair later in the year. Unfortunately I went on the one day when the weather was really bad, so much of the outside music had to be cancelled or brought into a small indoor space inside the fortress. My feeling was that the whole event had lost a lot of the buzz that it used to have, and that I put down to the synergy between the fact that it was both a trade fair and a performance festival all at the same time, makers and players mixing together. I do concede (and actually hope) that it might have been better on the other two days.
Some of what I saw was good, none was bad, although some was quite missable – only, of course, in my humble opinion. But the final act, the Betta Blues Society, was a delight. First of all they did play and sing rather well. But what was really exciting is that they – and in particular the lead singer, Elisabetta Maulo – were truly prepared to stand up in front of us and give a performance.
I do see a fair bit of amateur and small-time music these days, and sometimes despair at the performers’ unwillingness to relate to the audience. I’ve seen singers hiding behind their sheet music (it seems to be a disease around here) to the extent that you can’t see their face, or perhaps occasionally peeping at the lead guitarist. I’ve even seen “front” people sitting down in a chair with their back to the audience to face the other musicians. So it was a joy to see a band performing with energy, and willing to share that energy with the audience.