“Completely different! Unique! Quirky and humorous with a dark side of truth lurking underneath the chuckles”. Frank Hennessy (BBC Wales);
“This song and melody were born in Roberto's heart. It is a powerful song of love which we feel within his fine playing. A very moving performance and I love it." (Danny Thompson - double bass titan and music legend);
"A charming genius! One of my all-time favourite performers." - Martin Stephenson, UK songwriting great and leader of the Daintees).
This is stuff people have said about me, and I am quite proud of it, but now I'll tell you about myself in my own words.
Roberto Cassani is my real name. I play double bass and I like stories, people and life. I was born in Milano, Italia and I was brought up in the crazy town of Rivolta d'Adda, where everyone was either mad as a hatter, or liked too much wine, or both. I left many years ago despite loving the place, just out of sheer devilment...and I eventually settled in Scotland.
Just like you and everyone else, I did and still do a few different things to keep the wolves from the door... I started as an author and songwriter when I was barely a teenager in Italy. When I came to the U.K. I found fertile employment as a sort of comedy folk singer. I then became a session double bass player. I am often found playing jazz around central Scotland, or the blues or every conceivable type of music in which I can squeeze a double bass. But I suppose the reason why you are reading this is to know about my eccentric little songs and stories... well they seem to come out without me asking... It must be nice to be some serious Dylan, but instead I have an overbearing funny bone and mischievous tendons, so I can’t help it.
My main area of work is trying my very best to be a nice person, a good husband and an awesome daddy. Everything else is not nearly as important. If you want to know about me as a person, listen to “Robertografia”, my solo monologue with double bass. I did this following my many chat with my legendary pal Danny Thompson and it’s quite a handy thing to have, so you can get my whole life story in 30 minutes of musical chat and I don’t have to bother you with tedious paragraphs here.
Anyway, I suppose I should quickly tell you about music. Nobody was a musician in my family, none of my friends, uncles, aunties, nobody I knew... But my cousin Stefano had a massive collection of jazz records, so I shall blame him for saving my life through music, whilst making sure I would stay poor through music...
I was signed to a big record label at 17 when I was still musically very immature. They gave me a mentor, the very important jazz double bassist Giovanni Tommaso. It was thanks to Giovanni that I fell in love with the double bass, although many years would pass before I could afford to buy one...
I was a bit of a rascal as a teenager, so I decided to abandon music and "do a runner"... I wanted to become a carer and look after people with a variety of complex needs. That did nothing for my knowledge of scales and arpeggios, but it made quite a difference to me humanly...and as we know, music and life are one and the same....
When I moved to the UK, I didn't speak English (plus I didn't have a penny). The latter has not changed much, but my English has picked up considerably. After a few years, I started writing songs again, but I had to perform them on my own, on guitar (which I cannot play!). Somehow, I very quickly went from playing in pubs to playing big festivals and radios all over the UK and USA, which was unexpected, and probably undeserved...
So I took a break from that and practiced the double bass haaaaard. I became a session musician with several roots and singer/songwriter acts, then I was in a folk "supergroup" called Kilmarnock Edition with some great artists (Alex Hodgson, Fiona J Mackenzie, Yvonne Lyon, Lisa Rigby and Stu Clark). We released a really good album in 2012 which you can look up if you want. We toured for a bit in the UK and Canada, then we stopped. I returned to session work, then I formed my own comedy swing-a-billy band "Roberto Cassani & the Tickety2" (with Owen Nicholson on guitar and Dave Clelland on drums), which did loads of touring and radio. There is a "Best of" available now, to substitute he two original albums that were sold out and out of print.
In 2016 and 2017 I released some solo music to experiment with being a lo-fi artist. The albums were called "Badabadoom" and "Protest Panda". As for all my albums, I did not pay for promotion (had no money for it, plus it's pointless in the long run), however, all the reviews were fantastic, which made me very pleased.
In 2018, I became friends with legend of the double bass, Danny Thompson, who worked with me as a mentor and convinced me that the best version of myself (musically) is when I stand there on my own with my double bass and tell you guys whatever comes into my nut whilst I play whatever comes into my heart. That works for me, thank you very much Danny! Wotciao maestro!
In 2019 I put out loads of music, the Robertografia monologue as above, the “Best of” the Tickety2 years and also the album “Oh!...l’amore!” with Glasgow-based-Italian great producer Andrea Gobbi.
2020 is starting with a live album from “Falkirk Folk Club”, which I really like, bum notes and all. Instead of choosing to document a gig from a fancier festival or theatre, I chose this gig for 2 reasons: firstly, the wonderful Charlie Tibbles did a great job of recording it, and secondly these are my favourite kind of gigs, where I can treat it a chat amongst friends, an interactive story-swinging session, where the interaction is human. I think it totally captures the essence of a bygone folk music, which used to be indeed about folk, as in people.
There’s lots more coming this year, but I probably should stop bleathering now. Ciao