By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 21, 2006 at 11:54 AM
Having helped bring them to town last year and working with them while they were here, I got to see the Piemontese folk group Ariondassa a lot at Festa Italiana ’05, so I’m excited at their return this year. Not only because they are now my friends and not only because they are all masterful musicians.

Really, it’s because although I didn’t appreciate traditional music much when I was younger, I’ve changed even though the music hasn’t. And, to me, the continuity of the music is the point. When I see young music fans shaking their heads (and I have seen it) at groups whose music often dates back more than a century, I wonder if they take a moment to consider what it is they’re hearing.

The music that groups like Ariondassa, Tre Martelli, La Ciapa Rusa and others in Piemonte -- and thousands more from regions all over the world -- represents centuries of threatened -- but enduring -- cultures. Some of it may sound dated to our ears, but, hey, it’s still here, being played around the world. So, it ain't dead yet. And if our great-grandkids are lucky, it'll still be around for them, too.

Sure, the Beatles’ music has endured 40 years, and although I think it will endure for another 100, who can say for sure? On the other hand, the traditional music that before the advent of tape was handed down from one musician to the next, has lived on because it exists for a different reason that a lot of music does today.

The composers of dance tunes worked to bring joy to themselves and to the people they lived among; people whose lives were often difficult and painful and short and for whom a small town festival was the highlight of the year. If the musicians could make a little money for their work, great. But their music wasn’t created strictly with commerce in mind and I fear that too much of our music today is.

So, head down to Festa and check out Ariondassa at 3 and 6:30 p.m. on the Festa Stage and at 5 p.m. in Dominic Frinzi’s Opera Tent (although the group does not play anything like opera) and think for a minute about your great-grandma and how much music like this -- at least in spirit -- meant in her life, and how much it can mean in yours.
Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.