July 22nd, 2019

Calexico Italy Travels

The Years to Burn tour with Iron & Wine is underway! We’re thrilled to come back and play in some of our favorite places in the world, and explore some new ones, as we make our way through Europe, back to the States, and conclude back in Europe and the UK later this year. 

Below, Joey and John highlight some of their favorite memories from past tours and trips to Italy, where the Years to Burn tour will make stops in Milan, Gardone Riviera, Rome, Florence, and Monforte d’Alba.

You can find tickets for all upcoming Calexico and Iron & Wine shows HERE. We’ll see you all out there! 

From John: 

Our friend Carlo Martelli from City Slang Records took us on a long walk in Rome late one night while on a promo tour. I remember how amazing it was to see the ancient ruins at night, some lit up and others not, with cats checking us out and ignoring us at the same time, as cats do. At one point Carlo stopped in front of a pretty normal looking apartment building. Pointing up, he told us that was where the Maestro Ennio Morricone lives, and then proceeded to tell us an incredible story about how that famous baritone guitar sound was achieved for all those amazing Sergio Leone western soundtracks.

On another promo tour in Milano we got together with Vinicio and some of his friends at his apartment. He had a beautiful piano there and a well stocked kitchen with a very nice lady from Greece who cooked us an amazing dinner. After dinner Vinicio brought out an old victrola and played some old Italian waltzes. They sounded so beautiful. What was even more beautiful was the masks he passed out to each of us… waltzing becomes much more interesting with a mask on.

Playing shows in Italy is always an adventure. You never really know what it’s going to be like. Sometimes the venues are set up the day of the show; maybe in front of an old monastery, or in the town square. Soundcheck could be a disaster, but it always seems like the show comes together, and the people love it. I’ll never forget these two nuns who sat in the front row one night and clapped and smiled all through the show. 

Photo: Gaelle Beri | Verona 2018

We once played the beautiful village of Alberobello which is near the big port city Bari, where my paternal grandparents are from. After the show there were some people who had some copies of my solo record ‘Ragland’ to sign. It was really sweet to be there, and feel that my family line had come full circle.

Photo: Fabio Nosotti | Italy | 2017


From Joey: 

The Music of Fabrizio DeAndré-

Last year Calexico met Dori Ghezzi who gave us several volumes of her late husband Fabrizio DeAndré’s work. Since then I’ve been hooked on his lyrics, music and life story. 

Photo: Guido Harari | Joey and John with Dori Ghezzi | July 15, 2018

The Music of Vinicio Capossela-

Many years ago I asked a journalist to suggest some Italian music to check out. I ended up buying “Ovunque Proteggi” by Vinicio Capossela and was captivated and transported to a whole new universe. Since, our band has been lucky enough to perform and record with him and his guitarist Alessandro “Asso” Stefana. It’s always a pleasure working with them like returning to long lost brothers of the sea for a massive celebration. 

The Food – 

I’ll never forget the time in 2003 that we asked a local Italian promoter near Rimini to find us a restaurant that had truffles. The next day our whole band and crew sat down for a meal lasting all afternoon. It was epic and of course incredible. Afterwards, our friends took us to a beach away from the tourists. We had to walk through some dense fields which, to our surprise caught fire, so we had to run towards the beach and were stranded there for a few hours. It was both a bizarre and most beautiful day. One I will never forget. 

One thing that I love is coffee and the Italians are, simply put, kickass and the best at it. Italians breathe coffee. There is no effort and the style comes naturally to them. I love ordering espresso wherever I’m at in Italy- whether at an Autogrill or walking down a fancy street in Bologna. 

Photo by John | Autogrill outside of Milan

We’ve only played Catania, Sicily once and it was sort of a dream getting there and exploring this beautiful city. First off, the promoter arranged a private plane to pick us up in Vigo, Spain. Not bad at all. As we eased into the seats we enjoyed the view, fine dining, and champagne. We asked ourselves, “Did we win the lottery or something?”

The day after the festival our longtime friend Agostino Tilotta from the bands Uzeda and Bellini took us on a walking food tour followed by an incredible seafood dinner in the old fish market. While on our walk, I was amazed by the use of volcanic stone throughout the city; streets, stairways and even jewelry made of this gorgeous local rock, sourced from nearby Mount Ethna. Throughout the day we enjoyed some local flavors like Selz, a fresh salty seltzer water with freshly squeezed lemon, and ended the night with granita and brioche. It was a highlight of many of our tours through lovely Italy. 

Years to Burn is available now through City Slang (UK/EU) and Sub Pop Records (ROW). Calexico and Iron & Wine on tour now.