By Sarah Ludeman
He’s been playing guitar since the age of 6 and has been described as one of the world’s top Rock ‘n’ Roll guitarists. His musical influences range from Les Paul and Merle Travis, from Eddie Cochran to Chet Atkins and his musical stylings cover everything from rockabilly, neo swing and power surf to rock ‘n’ roll, blues and country. His name is Marco Di Maggio and on March 31 and April 2, he and his trio, The DiMaggio Connection will be rocking it out at Green Bay’s Rock N’ Roll Land.
Before the show, we connected with Di Maggio to learn a bit more about him, his music and what those who come out to Rock N’ Roll Land can expect to see.
Scene: Who all makes up the Di Maggio Connection and how did you all meet?
Marco Di Maggio: There’s me and also Matteo Giannetti (Double Bass) and Marco Barsanti (Drums).
We met in Florence, Italy, the city where we were born (except for Matteo who is from Carrara) and we’ve been playing together so long that we know one another very well and they can follow almost each note I’m goin’ to improvise on stage … good feelings.
Scene: What is your favorite part about touring?
MDM: Mainly, performing on stage, of course … but the great thing is traveling, seeing and meeting different audiences, new people and different cultures, both musically talking and as a life experience. I think the choice to be a musician gave me the big chance to make my biggest passion become a job and gave to me the chance to see the whole world and play with lots of my idols.
Scene: Speaking of idols, who are some your greatest musical influences?
MDM: Many, I can say some them are: Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, Eddie Cochran, Cliff Gallup, Carl Perkins, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Merle Travis, Jimmy Bryant, Tal Farlow, Al Caiola, Grady Martin, Hank Garland, The Shadows and many, many more.
Scene: Have you ever played in Wisconsin before?
MDM: Yes, during my first small tour in the U.S. in 1999 … it was in Appleton, thanks to Mr. Bob Timmers, the president of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame now based in Burns, Tennessee … he produced my first album with the Di Maggio Bros. and booked me to play at Combined Locks in Appleton during May 1999. In that occasion I played with the great Narvel Felts too!
Scene: You’ll be playing at Green Bay’s Rock N’ Roll Land. What do you like most about playing at smaller venues such as this?
MDM: I don’t care about the capacity of the venues; I like small clubs with warm atmospheres the same way I love to play in front of big audiences and big stages.
Scene: What can those in attendance expect to see/hear?
MDM: We never play the same song list so I cannot tell exactly … what I can say is, my attitude on stage is influenced by the many sub-styles that are part of rockabilly music … western swing, country, swing, blues etc … in the case of smaller clubs sometimes I like to mix up a various set of early jazzy rockabilly and country, but who knows? Surprise!
Scene: It sounds like you play a variety of music. How would you describe the style of music you play?
MDM: Some people may say I’m playing rockabilly, a very old music genre. What I used to say is, ‘I’m not a simple rockabilly guitar player.’ My style is a big cocktail of many ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s styles with a touch of today’s sound. And the way I mix all of my different influences is just my style and the sound that comes out is nothin’ old but very energetic and actual.
Scene: What drew you to this type of music?
MDM: Mainly instinct … but the first person who guided me to Elvis and rockabilly music was a neighbor, a lady that was living in my same building in Florence. And after listening to ‘Ready Teddy’ by Elvis, I knew what I should do in my life.
Scene: How long have you been playing the guitar?
MDM: Had my first guitar at the age of six, then I took classic guitar lessons for two months but I left soon ‘cause I was bored. I started play rockabilly at the age of 12 with my first band, ‘The Sharks’ lead by my brother Massimo. During that period, even if very young, we were playing around Tuscany with great results. Maybe I was really too young to stay so far from home so often and needed to live a teenager’s life ramblin’ around with my friends, so I quit live music from the age of 15 and I came back performing at the age of 23/24 with Eddie & The Houserockers.
Scene: What’s the future of The Di Maggio Connection look like? What’s in store after the tour?
MDM: Simple, keep maintaining our style with the same energy and without limits or categorizing it too much. We are also working at a new album, which should be out early 2015.
Scene: If you could play with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
MDM: Maybe I’m obvious but I can say … Elvis Presley! He’s the artist who gave me and my brother the biggest input to create a career and I’m still thinking he was the greatest. Then, Mr. Chet Atkins, who in my opinion is the best guitarist of all time.
Scene: Fill in the blank: The Di Maggio Connection is …
MDM: A band who can play the same repertoire in front of the classic rockabilly scene, at jazz festivals, country venues or rock shows who keeps their feeling, style and energy a crossover of all the rockin’n’swingin’ music styles.
Scene: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MDM: That it’s great to be back in the U.S. where I have had lot of wonderful experiences and made great collaborations with many of my idols.
USA, we’re comin’! ν