FRANCESCO GAROLFI: 1930 National Duolian, acoustic guitars, lap steel guitars, mandolins, 1967 Fender Precision bass, percussions, lead vocals, harmony vocals, stompin’ foot.
“After listening to Francesco Garolfi's new cd (The Blues I Feel), it reminded me of one of the greatest blues artists and jazz singers of all time, the late Ella Fitzgerald. I mean Francesco doesn't sing like a lady, but his style is much like her style. He sings with great passion and love for the music he loves so very much. Whether it's blues, jazz or even classic guitar, this young man has the whole world in his hands for years to come”.
Sunshine Sonny Payne
Host of the King Biscuit Time Radio Show in Helena, Arkansas, Usa.
“Ciao Francesco. Your CD sounds great, a lot of soul and a lot of passion--KEEP GOING!!”
Blues Guitar Master, Hawaiian Steel Slide Player, World Musician
Francesco Garolfi, a young singer/guitar player from Milan (Italy), is a musician who blends elegance and passion in a personal style. For years, with sensibility and determination, he has led an intense musical work that has yielded him high esteem, enjoying a good musical reputation. Evidence of his artistic value and of the credibility of his music is the first prize gained in January 2006 at the first edition of the International Festival/Challenge “Out of the Blue's” in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Playing alone he obtained full marks from the jury of experts, preceding Italian and American band. Further evidence is his first solo cd “The Blues I Feel”, in which respect for tradition and originality in interpretation find a perfect balance (the album is positively reviewed by the world famous "Blues Revue").
After years of classical studies, his fingerpicking technique today has progressed so far that Francesco applies it to electric, acoustic, slide, lap steel guitar and mandolin.
With a background of many musical experiences in duo, trio and band, in 2004 he recorded “Blues Alone” (a self produced EP) awakening some of the most important Italian blues artists’ attentions. In the following months he has been a guest on many blues radio shows, as well as playing theatres, auditoriums, cafès, churches, and festivals, such as the Ferrara International Buskers Festival, all over Italy and Switzerland, sharing stages with international artists such as Cristina Donà (EMI artist), Ronnie Jones, Philipp Fankhauser.
At the end of 2005 he answers one of the most important Italian blues harp players’ calls: Fabrizio Poggi. With Poggi, as an acoustic duo, he undertook a continued national tour (still going after 2 years), and together they play international festivals, including Roots & Blues Festival, Acoustic Guitar 9th International Meeting, Folkfest, Magic Blues Festival - Switzerland, Piazza Blues Festival - Switzerland, A Touch of British Blues Festival, and Liri Blues Festival. The duo has opened the concerts of Steve Howe, Sax Godon, Nick Moss & The Flip Tops, Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, Rev. Peyton Big Damn Band, David Lee Durham, Mem Shannon & the Membership, Hokum Hotshots + Rob Mason, Sandra Hall, Andy J. Forest Blues Band and jammed with Eric Bibb, Guy Davis, Bob Brozman, Nerak Roth Patterson, Otis Taylor, Cassie Taylor, James Monque' D and many others.
The success of this tour carried him to the recording of “The Breath of Soul” (an acoustic blues cd, in a duo with Fabrizio Poggi) in 2006. It was welcomed with enthusiasm by the public and critics and following a promotional tour of Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. The tour featured 12 concerts, jam sessions with Brad Webb, Bill “Howlin' and Mad” Perry, Lightin' Malcom, Phillip Dave Lee Durham, Johnny Holiday, a television appearance (WREG TV, Affiliated CBS - Memphis “LIVE AT the 9”) and an appearance on the historical program “King Biscuit Time” (introduced by the great Sunshine Sonny Payne) with Big George Brock, and “Delta Sounds” (KFFA Radios - Helena) jamming live with Bob “the Spoonman” Rowell.
In 2007 Francesco and Fabrizio were again in the United States, this time in Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, to play live shows and to do studio recordings. They worked side by side with legends of the American traditional music: they recorded with Garth Hudson, (piano player in the worldwide-known The Band) (Leopard Studio, Stone Ridge - New York), shared the stage with Ponty Bone, (accordionist for The Clash, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Flaco Jimenez, Joe Ely, Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Jeff Walzer), and they jammed with Rob Paparozzi (harmonica player and singer in the Original Blues Brothers Band), Donnie Price, and Johnny Gringo. They were also invited to cut some tracks for Texan singer songwriter Mike Blakely’s new album (The Zone Recording Studio, Dripping Springs - Texas).
For years Francesco combined the live activity with careful scientific research on Afro-American music. He took degree summa cum laude in Modern Literature, at the prestigious Cattolica University in Milan, with a doctoral dissertation in social-psychology about the blues as an artistic-communicative way of living.
His skillful guitar playing, original technique and eclecticism led Francesco to join, as lead guitarist, a cult Italian band in the progressive-rock tradition of the seventies: “Maxophone”, a group with a world-wide reputation for excellence, whose musicians boast collaborations with the most important Italian pop artists. The success of his collaboration with Fabrizio Poggi opened the doors to others important collaborations: in 2005 he became singer-guitar player in the historic Italian blues band “Chicken Mambo”, which has been on the scene for over 20 years; in 2007, he became guitar player in “Turututela”, a famous Italian traditional folk group. From 2004 he also worked with a young drummer/percussionist, Pablo Leoni, as a duo.
Not prone to labels, he plays folk, blues, roots, and jazz in addition to composing his own original material (songs, instrumentals, and soundtracks).
Francesco Garolfi played with:
Garth Hudson (The Band) & Maud Hudson
Bill “Howlin’ and Mad” Perry
Nerak Roth Patterson
Phillip Dale Durham
Bob "the Spoonman" Rowell
Big Jack Johnson’s Band
Chicken Mambo Blues Band
Treves Blues Band
Max De Bernardi
… and many more…
Francesco Garolfi opened the concerts of::
Steve Howe (Yes)
Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials
Andy J. Forest Blues Band
Hokum Hotshots + Rob Mason
Sax Godon & Vince Vallicelli Band
Rev. Peyton Big Damn Band
David Lee Durham
Nick Moss & The Flip Tops
Mem Shannon & the Membership
The Key Frances Band
Treves Blues Band
Francesco Garolfi participated as a guest in (interview + live showcase):
WREG TV, CBS Affiliate – Memphis (Usa) “LIVE AT 9”
RAI2 – "Freedom TV"
KFFA Radio – Helena (Usa) “King Biscuit Time” also featurig Big George Brock,
KFFA Radio – Helena (Usa) “Delta Sounds” jamming live with Spoonman,
KDVS Radio – Davis (Usa) “Cool as Folk ”
KDVS Radio – Davis (Usa) “Big Dave Buried Alive With The Blues”
KBCS Radio – Seattle (Usa) "Americana Chart"
Radio 666 – Hérouville St Clair (France) "Sweet Home Chicago"
Radio Holstebro – Holstebro (Denmark)
Feeling the Blues – Warszawa, Krakòw (Poland)
Telecapodistria TV – "Folkest Special"
Antenna del Mediterraneo TV – "Capo d'Orlando in Blues Special"
Teletirreno – "Festival Internazionale della Musica Special"
Rai Radio2 – "Tutti I Colori Del Giallo"
Radio Italia Anni ’60 – Capo d’Orlando "Speciale Blues Festival"
Rock Fm – "Blues Express"
Lifegate Radio – "Life in Blues"
Radio Voce Spazio – "Highway 61"
Francesco Garolfi played at:
Blues City Cafè – Beale Street, Memphis (Tennessee, USA)
Red’s Blues Club – Clarksdale (Mississippi, USA)
Guero's Taco Bar – Austin (Texas, USA)
Ground Zero Blues Club – Clarksdale (Mississippi, USA)
House of Blue Lights – Marble Falls (Texas, USA)
Center for Southern Folklore – Memphis (Tennessee, USA)
Cathead Delta Blues & Folk Art – Clarksdale (Mississippi, USA)
Blue Parrot Cafè – Greenville (Mississippi, USA)
Walnut Street Blues Bar – Greenwood (Mississippi, USA)
Delta Amusement Cafè – Clarksdale (Mississippi, USA)
Hopson Plantation Commissary – Clarksdale (Mississippi, USA)
Delta Beach Lounge (Ascona, Svizzera)
Spazio Musica (Pavia)
Le Scimmie (Milano)
Nidaba Theatre (Milano)
Naima Club (Forlì)
Louisiana Jazz Club (Genova)
Thunder Road (Codevilla)
Il Diavolo Rosso (Asti)
Il Bloom (Mezzago)
… and many more…
BLUES REVUE – August/September 2007
Italian singer-guitarist Francesco Garolfi turns in a nuanced, passionate set on the self-released "The Blues I Feel". His singing, unaccented to the American ear, is right on, and his lap steel and National resonator guitar work is impeccable. A quiet reading of Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault but Mine", a brisk run through John Hurt's "Sliding Delta", a dreamlike spin on "Baby Please Don't Go", a delicate yet rocking "Dust My Broom", and a jagged version of Sonny Landreth's "Broken Hearted Road" all hit the mark, as do a handful of spirituals, notably "Jesus Is Ori the Mainline". It's a lovely collection of mostly acoustic roots music.
FOLK BULLETIN – February 2007
“The Blues I Feel” is Francesco Garolfi’s solo record debut, mature and of great value. Garolfi is Fabrizio Poggi’s musical travelling companion, with whom he recorded “The Breath of Soul”, which was positively reviewed by Claudio Ravasi in number 225 of this newspaper. In “The Blues the Feel” the young singer and guitar player pays homage to some of the artists and music that have greatly influenced him, giving life to evocative performances in which all his musical spirits emerge: from Blues to Jazz, from Gospel to American Roots music. In the cd Garolfi sings all the vocal parts (also background vocals) with effective results and plays all the instruments, proving not only to be a great singer and guitar player but also a convincing mandolin player, bass player, and percussionist. The disc opens with a passionate homage to a great bluesman: Son House. Garolfi offers us a convincing interpretation of the classic “Walkin' Blues”, executed with the only aid of voice, acoustic guitar and the evocative stompin’ foot. Very interesting and personal is his version of another great milestone in the blues history, or better, in the spiritual blues history: Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody's Fault But Mine”. The warm and enveloping sound of the lap steel guitar melds very well with the artist’s beautiful vocal attestation. The guitar Garolfi uses in this song has also a deep affective value for him, being the fruit of the collaboration between the guitar player and his father Desiderio: together they entirety built this very unique musical instrument. The cd continues with another spiritual “Jesus On The Mainline” with excellent vocal pace and the central, simple and effective, slide guitar solo. The fourth song is a soft homage to one of Garolfi’s favorite artists, Mississippi John Hurt, while the following song comes straight from Sleepy John Estes’ songbook via Taj Mahal. I’m talking about “Diving Duck Blues” that also appears on the album with Poggi. Here the vocal harmonies make themselves apparent, conferring gospel tones to the song. As always the guitar part is exceptional, and with the kazoo solo lends a jug band style. The following “Baby please don't go” is sure to count among the best songs of the album. Huge esteem to the laid-back musical arrangement and equally excellent slide guitar solo. The vocal parts and percussion by Garolfi and the drummer Pablo Leoni, the only guest musician of the album, compliment each other well, though appearing only in a couple of tunes. The cd continues with the reconsiderations of two classics of the Delta Blues: Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” and the traditional “Since I’ve Laid My Burden Down”. This delicate and intimite revisiting of a beautiful song made famous by the great bluesman from Avalon Mississippi is followed by a tribute to one of the best contemporary slide players: Sonny Landreth, with the slow acoustic blues “Broken Hearted Road”. The album returnes to a hypnotic and captivating atmosphere with the successive song. It’s the ancient spiritual “Bye And Bye I'm Going To See The King”, wonderfully interpreted by Garolfi, who offers us an inspired vocal performance of very high quality. The percussive groove and really effective the congas are piercing. Garolfi’s ability with guitars is persuasive and excellent indeed his bass solo that marries itself in a beautiful lap steel solo. To follow, an instrumental with a Calypso-Caribbean flavour from Taj Mahal’s songbook that distinguishs itself as an effective and convincing work with mandolin. The album concludes with two beautiful songs taken from the immense American traditional musical repertoire. The first is “Take This Hammer”, that according to the writer can adorn itself with the title of most beautiful song of the album. Very rootsy, pastoral and evocative, the song offers an intense, melancholic and all-consuming vocal interpretation. Also wonderful is the arrangement, a weaving jubilation of guitars and mandolins. The slide solo is a masterpiece of understatement. The cd ends with the interesting and introspective version of the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in which Garolfi celebrates some of his jazz guitar heroes, with Wes Montgomery standing above them all. This album encourages those of us hoping for a positive future for blues music in our country. After listening to Garolfi’s “The Blues I Feel” it seems to be in very good hands.
Roberto di Giovanni
JAM - February 2007
Francesco Garolfi is a singer, guitar player from Milan, graduated years ago at the Cattolica University in Milan with a graduation thesis about the devil’s music. Refined performer of the classic tradition of the blues, from Elmore James to Sleepy John Estes through Muddy and Robert Johnson’s great songs. He is exteemed to be a flagbearer of the new Italian generation of the blues. He is an excellent musician, genuine, kindhearted and sensitive. Best wishes to him for a long career full of successes.
“Francesco Garolfi is a singer/guitar player as talented musically as he is modest humanly (rare quality among musicians)” that’s what I wrote this autumn in the review of the CD recorded by Fabrizio Poggi and Francesco Garolfi “The Breath of Soul”. Now, after having listened to his solo album “The Blues the Feel”, I confirm it all and I say even more. In the album, Francesco plays all the instruments (with the exception of the drums in two songs played by Pablo Leoni), and also sings all the vocal lines (listen to “Jesus is on the Mainline” to believe me) and the result is a gentle album and nevertheless of great depth. In “Blues I Feel” there are a true love for blues music and a deep knowledge of its roots, united with a great familiarity with the use of string instruments that carried him to build himself (helped by his father) the lap steel guitar that appears on the covers of the album. I must warn you about one thing: if during the listening of the album you get distracted by whatsoever a thing you could risk forgetting you are listening to an Italian singer-guitar player’s album, instead mistaking it for an old black guitar player’s recording from the Delta.