Boomkat Product Review:
A totally enchanting performance by the esteemed acoustic finger-picker and singer, recorded in the 18th century Palazzo Gaddi, central northern Italy, and now made available on any format for the first time. Also, that sleeve....!
“Mario Calvitti's rememberance of the Forlì Concert: The year before (1981) I had met Maurizio Angeletti, an Italian acoustic fingerstyle guitar player, when he was on tour in Italy with John Fahey. We exchanged contacts, and one year later he called me saying that he was managing an Italian tour with Robbie, asking whether I could find a booking in my area.
A friend of mine named Giovanni Picone was involved in a municipality activity about music, so through him I managed to get things organized, including some funding from the municipality. The name of my hometown is Forli', in the north-centre part of Italy (south of Bologna, north of Rimini, two towns that are better known). I was 25 at that time, and a few months later I would move to Rome to start working. The date of the concert was October 11, after they played in Brescia (which is up north) on the 10th and traveling with Maurizio's car all the way south to Rome where they played the Folkstudio on the 12-13. The setlist was much similar to others from the same period, adding versions of 'California Raga' and 'Song of the Stallion'. The concert was held in Sala Gaddi, a room of an 18th century building (Palazzo Gaddi) that was home to the local music high school until 1989 and was used for mostly classical concerts. Nowadays the building is home to a couple of historical museums. Robbie liked the place, I remember him saying once between songs "this is one lovely little room where I could play all night."
Maurizio Angeletti opened the concert with a selection of his own pieces, Takoma style, mainly on 12 string guitar. He had two albums out on small italian indie labels, and a third one would have followed shortly. Sadly, none of them have been digitally reissued, but the original vinyl can be found from some online vendor. Two or three years later he would quit music completely, to move abroad and become a professional kite-maker. That night he played with a sore finger, swollen and aching, and in between pieces he talked about his recent passion forkites, still not imagining that it would become such a big part in his forthcoming life.
After Maurizio, Robbie played his set. The music was wonderful, hearing him play live such masterpieces as 'Grail and the Lotus' and Cathedrals et Fleur de Lis' was one of the best experiences I had in my life. He introduced the pieces speaking some Italian. My friend Giovanni taped both performances, and later made me a copy. he can also be heard tinkling the small bell at the end of 'Grail & the Lotus', at Robbie's request. I was particularly surprised by the attendance: I didn't expect many people to show up (he was quite unknown at that time, and very little advertisement had been done, mainly distributing leaflets). Still, at the end of the evening 110 tickets had been sold. Not bad for a small town of about 100,000 inhabitants: I've heard that the following nights in Rome at the Folkstudio (that was a famous concert venue, though small) the audience was no more than 70 people. Also, in Forli' the audience was very attentive and responsive, just like in a classical concert, and I think Robbie also liked to be considered as a classical performer (just my guess).
He wore the same shirt that is in the cover picture of 'Art Of The Acoustic Steel String Guitar 6 & 12'...he had some of his LPs for sale (I bought my copy of 'Rainbow Thunder' on that occasion). My biggest regret, I was so overwhelmed by emotion that I couldn't talk to him at all...I just had it sign my copy of the book "American Guitarists" by Maurizio Angeletti, on the first page of his chapter, with his name preceded by the word "Saluti" (Greetings in Italian).”