Please enjoy the following YouTube videos ~ A performance of Un Gioco and a previous video interview with Andrea Algieri for Italian Portland.
In Portland, Andrea immediately connected with a drummer and the duo began playing open mics and small concerts at local establishments. When first moving to the states Andrea was unsure how the fans would respond to his lyrics being in Italian. While living in New York this question was answered loudly when he entered and won an open mic competition run by a local television studio. Portland followed suit - the fans were hooked.
One of Andrea's biggest inspirations for his work is Vinicio Capossela an eclectic and talented Italian musician. "I saw him play in San Francisco once to a sold out crowd. The fans went crazy, they loved him." Present day Mbrascatu also takes an eclectic approach to their work combining traditional music with influences of rock, modern, and psychedelic components. "Every band member is a great musician," professes Andrea, "We keep an open mind, focus on the music, and try to keep it interesting for people."
Band members left to right: John Sabestinas, electric guitar, banjo, & ukulele, Dylan Dean, violin & viola,
Andrea Algieri, guitars, chitarra battente & vocals, Dan Sullivan bass, and Eddy Lalo Esparza, drums
Mbrascatu has announced the release of their second Album, Tempo and they will be hosting a special release event at Mississippi Studios, Portland on Friday January 2, 2015. Italian Portland is thrilled to have caught up with lead singer, Andrea Algieri to get some insight into the inspiration for the new album as well as Mbrascatu's evolution as a band since their inception, in the City of Roses.
Andrea Algieri, lead singer of Mbrascatu, has come a long way since his humble beginnings in a small town in the south of Italy called, Luzzi. Luzzi is in the region of Calabria and is a province of Consenza, "It's a nice place to live," says Andrea, "There is not a lot to do but it is a town with great characteristics."
Growing up Andrea spent Sundays and holidays with his large Italian family. His uncle, Umile would break out into song at the end of every meal and Umile's son Tonino, Andrea's older cousin, would join in with his guitar. This sparked a passion and would be the catalyst for Andrea's love of music. He knew from an early age that he would follow a musical path. Tonino worked at a radio station in town and Andrea was itching to get in there and help out his older cousin. After several refusals, Tonino finally gave in and invited Andrea to join him under one condition, that he not touch anything.
Andrea has fond memories of the radio station but two of the most vivid are that of handing off the vinyls to his cousin and also taking requests from listeners. Although these requests did not arrive in the usual fashion, by telephone, as phones were still not commonplace in Luzzi in the 1980's. They arrived by hand written notes. Andrea states, "Many times it was children who would bring the requests in on paper with dedications to loved ones."
Tonya Russo Hamilton
Also published by the same author via L'Italo-Americano
The new album, Tempo has been in the works for about a year. Mbrascatu had been performing all of the new songs on stage live and when it came time to record they hit the ground running and completed the project in three days.
Andrea asserts that Tempo is one step above Mbrascatu's previous album. "It's a great sound, the first album was excellent, but this one goes further with an added maturity. It's more collaborative, we work so well together as a band that at times it's as if we're on cruise control. Every band member adds a depth and a different dimension to the group."
Mbrascatu has a mission. "We want people to know that music from Italy is more than, O' Sole Mio. While we love that song and all those traditional Italian songs, our music offers a different perspective through the lens of my Italian upbringing and the experiences and backgrounds of the talented musicians that make up our group."
To see Mbrascatu in an upcoming performance, please join them on November 1st at The Secret Society in Portland, door 8:30, show 9:00, and don't miss their Album Release Show for Tempo on Friday January 2, at 8:30pm, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave, Portland.
As much as he loved Luzzi, Andrea knew it was time to move on. At the age of 19, he moved to Florence and enrolled at Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze to study set design for theater. This got him a position designing sets for a soap opera in Mexico. After about a year in Mexico it was time to go back to Florence to fulfill his civic duty to his country. At this point in time in Italy young men had two choices, they could enlist in the military or do 10 months obligatory civil service. Andrea chose civil service and he worked for less than $3 per day at Mensa dei Poveri a shelter for the homeless, some of whom were struggling to overcome drug addiction. "I also worked with handicapped children and adults," Andrea reminisced, "This was a very intense time in my life." But the music continued.
At this time he had joined forces and formed a duo with vocalist Antonella Angelis, and they played venues in and around Florence. This led to the fateful meeting of Andrea's future wife, Susan. An exchange student, Susan happened into a bar where Andrea was performing and they began dating shortly after their first meeting. Eventually they were married and settled in Florence. Circumstances were not ideal in Florence for Susan's career and after seven years they made the decision to try moving to the states. They moved to Susan's hometown of Ithaca, New York with plans to open an Italian restaurant. Before opening the restaurant Andrea came to terms with the fact that his passion was still music and he would not be fulfilled as a restaurant owner. Again, circumstances were not ideal and Andrea was ready to pack everything up and move back to Florence. Susan's sister who had made her way to Portland, Oregon gave the couple a call and suggested they try moving to Portland. They decided to give it a shot. Upon arrival they found living arrangements that welcomed artists and musicians and they immediately found that they liked Portland. "It is not too big, and not too small," says Andrea, "And everyone was so nice, I began to make friends right away." Portland was the start of a new chapter for the Algieri's - Enter Mbrascatu.
Andrea's grandfather, nicknamed Mbrascatu, gave Andrea his first guitar. Andrea loved his guitar but found he didn't take to a serious study of music, though what he did have was a natural talent and ability to play by ear. When he turned 14 he put his guitar to the test by starting a band with a group of friends, they called themselves the Moonlovers. The Moonlovers played local festivals and events, and two years later they converged with another local band to become Rossini Target. Rossini Target traveled to Rome and Puglia playing different venues. "From that time on," recalls Andrea, "I never stopped playing."
Andrea at the age of 12 with his mother Linda, his father Franceso, & his sister Annafranca.
Luzzi, Italy Andrea's hometown. He grew up in the building to the left and his family still lives there today.
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