THERE are a few signs each year that I can't ignore. They tell me that Summer has well and truly arrived here in Italy's south [il sud].
Since moving down to Lecce in the southern part of Puglia [the southern tip of Puglia more commonly known as Salento] I know Summer is getting into full swing because the cicadas start singing, the news is brimming with celebrity holiday makers and everyone is suddenly at the mercy of those hot afternoons that send you scurrying into the shade or onto the amazing Mediterranean beaches we're flanked by on both sides of the peninsula.
The other sign that Summer is here is that some of my dearest friends here move into top gear, putting their year long preparation into action to bring their Bande A Sud festival to life for the Summer season of concerts and events. The August concerts - which are free to the public and run over a fortnight - are the culmination of a program of cultural offerings which are delivered throughout the year.
The program for the fifth edition of their festival, Bande a Sud: Suoni tra due mari [Sounds between two seas] has been announced, and builds on previous offerings. Under the artistic direction of Giacchino Palma, the festival - which originally sought to bring the old southern tradition of street Big Bands and performances back to life - this year focuses on brass and big bands in all their forms as well as on the social aspect the music. The fifth edition is an increasingly international affair as it continues to bridge the traditional with the contemporary.
Mostly taking place in Trepuzzi, with some events in Casalabate [both of which are just a stone's throw from Lecce], this year's events and selections tap into some of the themes that have long shaped the festival.
The big bands, the annual street band festival and the showcase of local produce (and wines!!!) are back, but along for the ride this year are headline act Renzo Arbore e L'Orchestra Italiana who've been breathing life back into traditional Neapolitan music and bringing it to the world's attention for decades.
The variety of brass and street bands is at the core of this year's offerings and covers the spectrum of Circus Swing [Camillocromo], fusion [P-Funking] and includes acts like Dubiosa Kolektiv whose Balkanic sound bears the influence of ska, punk and reggae and whose tribute to Edward Snowden, Freemp3 has already racked up over 3 million views on youtube. This year's varied program is notable for the emphasis on the social aspect behind the musical and programming choices.
The festival runs from August 4 through August 16. If you're in Puglia in the first half of August, make your way down [or up] to Trepuzzi for the concerts and events. The program is available here and you can keep up to date by popping a like on Bande A Sud's Facebook page.
AS a lifelong fan of Keith Haring, I love stumbling across his ongoing influence, even now that he is long gone from this place.
In the past I blogged about the mural in Melbourne that Keith produced in the early eighties and the attempts at conserving it for future generations.
Keith made it to rarefied territory for a contemporary artist. His unique view at the world and the way in which he made it accessible to people made him one of the most loved figures of modern popular culture. It didn't hurt that he came up during New York's eighties renaissance.
But there's something about Keith's work which has always resonated across the generations and the cultures. And the Keith Haring Foundation continues to spread his message through its partnering with all kinds of initiatives around the world. There have been events in Latin America, Europe, Australia among others that have kept his legacy alive for new generations.
That makes me, as a fan of his, happy. So, I was really quite chuffed to see that the local chapter of the Arcigay association, Arcigay Salento, has partnered with the Keith Haring foundation for their second annual Viva La Vida contest.
The idea behind the contest is two fold: it is designed to highlight contemporary art and issues which affect the LGBT(QI...) community. This year's theme is tied to Keith: artworks inspired (not necessarily mimicking his style) that highlight the main elements of the project. Selected works will then be voted for via the group's Facebook page and possibly be selected for inclusion at the exhibition which will be staged at the contest's end.
I imagine the emphasis is on local artists, but I love the idea of this kind of project. It's inspiring and heartwarming. I'm happy that there will be a little piece of Keith for me to enjoy in the new year, and my little black heart is unexpectedly warmed by the whole thing.
I now live in the south of Italy. The region is called Puglia, and I live in the area of its southernmost tip (the heel), which is commonly referred to as the Salento.
It's an area that comes to life in the warmer months of the year, bouyed by the hundreds and thousands visitors who descend here for the sea, nightlife and amazing food and wine that the area is famous for.
There are three major cities in this area: Taranto, Brindisi, and, my new base, Lecce. People here are relaxed and friendly, and more cosmopolitan than the southern stereotype will have you believe.
I'll get camera happy over the coming months, but in the meantime here's a teaser of just why I love this area.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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