I play double bass and sing stories. I was born in Milan, where my parents commuted for work, from the lovely small town of Rivolta d'Adda. I love Italy, of course, but I especially adore my town.
I developed my very own, very unusual songwriting style at a very early age. Why?...well frankly I was no good at manual work and I got bored at a desk, so it seemed like a good idea to be a musician, and back when I started it could be a job like any other, meaning there was enough money to stay alive, not like now...
There was no musician in my family, so I did it the hard way, with 20 years of apprentiship on the road and by becoming "formally self-taught", reading books, listening to the greats and generally finding my own way by trial and error, which I still do.
At age 18 I got signed to a major, and mentored by great musicians like the great jazz double bassist Giovanni Tommaso, to learn the trade...I was however still immature and found it difficult to make peace between my working class origin and a possible "pop" career...so I run away abroad before producing anything of musical significance, maybe for the best.
I eventually found myself in Birmingham, England, where I volunteered as a carer for Kyer, a wonderful young man, who taught me to speak English, among many more important things. There I met my wife Lara, with whom I am still madly in love with many years later. We then settled and started a family in Scotland, with our wonderful daughter Ruby.
In Scotland, I returned to music for fun, at first. I started in local pubs, where I realised by accident that when I sang anything remotely amusing in English, my accent would make people laugh...as one must pay the bills, I made a meal of that and soon I was touring the world singing funny songs. Admittedly, since my grasp on the English language was still developing, my attempt at “society satire” didn’t always come out that well...but I got to travel nonetheless...Later I was joined by great musicians and friends Owen Nicholson (Guitar) and Dave Clelland (drums) to form the “silly-a-billy” festival outfit “Roberto & the Tickety2”. We had 2 albums out: “Man Flu” and “Middle Age Spread”, which both sold out back when people still bought CDs. Owen and I still get tickled by a few of these funny songs in our duo concerts, which are always a great fun affair.
In between my first solo years, I had a very rewarding 2 year spell as double bass player and songwriter with Scottish folk “supergroup” Kilmarnock Edition (2013). The members were all Scottish songwriters (Alex Hodgson, Fiona J Mackenzie, Yvonne Lyon, Lisa Rigby and Stu Clark) and we met after winning the excellent Burnsong initiative a few year previously. After a couple of gigs we were signed to Greentrax Records and put out the lovely album out “Pay it Forward”, which got 5 stars reviews everywhere at the time. Unfortunately it was nearly impossible to sort out schedules to perform any more as we all lived literally scattered throughout Scotland, remote islands included, so there was no follow up.
After that, I went back to solo playing, purely because it was easier to manage with the personal needs of being a new daddy. I played every instrument on my album Badabadoom (2016).
After a lot of solo gigs, I diversified with a period of intense session playing and some experimentation, even tumbling into some protest punk with the documentary "Protest Panda" (2017) .
In 2018 I had the wonderful chance to work with my friend and mentor, legendary double bass player Danny Thompson. Danny, who is a wonderful human being, made me realise that I had the potential to be a signifcant artist, but at the moment my entire documented work consisted of funny songs...hence, better expanding a little in the realm of things that matter.
From then onwards, I have started a nice period where research and meaningful production meet my humorous nature and hopefully create some sort of happy medium... So far, this has produced the album "Oh!...L'amore!" (2019) recorded by the great Andrea Gobbi, and a monologue of voice and double bass which I toured and the shows have been wonderful both in the U.K. and in Canada.
In amongst all that, I have managed to notch up countless hours of session playing, live and in studio, with lots of independent Scottish acts, some well known and some not at all, but still good. I have played with some excellent folk artists, blues artists, I even play regular jazz residencies...as Danny Thompson says: “it’s all music...whatever!”.
When I have the chance, I even do some musical education and workshops of bilingual songs and music.
And so here we are. Just now, I am working at my next project, a really big and important one for me. It will take a little while, but please join the mailing list, so I can keep you informed.
Grazie e ciao. Roberto