By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

It's true, the appearance in Milwaukee of an Italian pop star is so rare that a blog post about the event warrants a headline like the one above.

When Zucchero Fornaciari, who is a towering figure in Italian pop music, arrives to perform at Turner Hall Ballroom tonight, it may well be the first appearance by an actual Italian pop star since Carmen Consoli played at the Miramar Theater in 2008.

Though an indie Italian band or two has swung through in the intervening years it would be a stretch to describe them as "pop stars." Two that perhaps come close – but in very, very genre-specific examples – were the 2010 Marcus Center performance by pianist Ludovico Einaudi and the 2013 appearance of prog legends Il Castello di Atlante at Club Garibaldi. Stars in their respective galaxies, but not pop by any measure.

Fornaciari, who has performed alongside Eric Clapton and Sting – which offers a clue not only to his stature but to his style of music – has toured the U.S. a number of times, having been signed to a few different record labels here across the years.

The Italian community here is buzzing about Zucchero's Milwaukee performance, which, if not his first, is surely his first in a long while.

But, why don't we get the likes of Subsonica and Negramaro in Milwaukee? Likely for the same reasons these bands – and, honestly, Zucchero, too – leave nary a trace in the wider American market. They sing in Italian.

Other than novelty hits, there is no real mainstream demand for foreign-language music – other than perhaps Spanish, but even that is a mostly separate market, aimed at and consumed by the Latino community.

Zucchero's latest disc, "La Sesion Cubana," was recorded with American producer Don Was in Havana with mostly Cuban musicians. The 13 tracks are sung almost entirely in Spanish and English.

All the same, Milwaukee's Italian ex-pat community – and some Italian-Americans – will be out to see the star shine bright upstairs at Turner Hall.

Ticket info and show details are here.

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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.