International bluegrass has been thriving since the 1970s when the first overseas bands began appearing at American festivals. Italy’s Red Wine has been one of the best. Their latest album confirms that.
The band has had some personnel changes since 1978 (most notably co-founding guitarist/vocalist Bebbe Gambetta, who has gone on to a successful solo career). But the current group remains strong and accomplished, well in the first ranks of world bluegrass music. After all, the Mediterranean region is the cradle of the violin/fiddle, mandolin, and guitar. So why wouldn’t Italian musicians be adept at translating the instruments into bluegrass? Well, they are. Red Wine’s current lineup is Lucas Bellotti (bass), Martino Coppo (mandolin and mandola), Marco Ferritti (guitar), and Silvia Ferritti ((banjo). In addition their latest project has attracted first-rate guest musicians, including long-time friend and banjo master Tony Trischka (featured on “Grannie’s Blues”), plus Josh Swift, resonator guitar; Annie Staninec, fiddle; and Daniele Bovo, cello.
Listeners will enjoy the delightful range of material, with songwriters encompassing John Fogerty, Paul McCartney, Marty Stuart, Liz Meyer and Ernest Tubb. The tracks encompass a truly down-home treatment of hardcore bluegrass standards like “You’re No Longer A Sweetheart Of Mine” to a sensitive arrangement of the romantic Beatles classic “For No One.” True to their Italian roots, Red Wine also includes an enjoyable bluegrass-arranged Italian song medley that features the familiar pop songs; “That’s Amore” and “Buonasera Signorina.” Mucho gusto!
American reviewers can easily praise the virtuoso picking of overseas bluegrassers but then sometimes have to be diplomatic about accented singing. Not so with Red Wine. Their vocals are highly enjoyable, truly accenting a tang of Mediterranean shores and forests that echoes the high, lonesome sounds of the Kentucky and North Carolina hills. Incidentally, the Red Wine’s home town of Genova is also the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. That’s very fitting for adventurous pioneers of any sort. You’ll enjoy this one. Ciao bella! (Silvlio Ferreotti, Via Marussig 13, 16166, Genoa, GE, Italy, www.redwinemusic.net.)RDS