17th day, Aosta, Italy, Friday, 1st of november 1996, Libre Tutti
Today, 20 years ago the Skasplash tour started in Marghera to arrive in Aosta for a unbelievable show at Libre Tutti.
10:30 AM: We’re leaving Marghera. A nice drive with beautiful sunshine is planned into the alps. On Barney’s van is a new claim “WAKE UP DUNCAN”. It looks like, the crew in the white van is aware of Duncan’s almost accident the day before. After crossing Switzerland the drive through Italy was quite boring. And Duncan was too long on the wheel. Shay took the wheel after an almost accident. Everybody was awake and still shocked. Poor Duncan.
1:57 PM: It’s warm outside. We enjoy the temperature a lot, because yesterday everybody was cold all over. I was afraid of my tonsil, I drank a lot of herbal tea and now it’s better. We’re hungry, but Shay has no money, so we have to drive through straight to Aosta.
Bessa is joking a lot around. He is kind of tour clown. And now he’s hopping around like a rabbit. Shay asks Rolando Alphonso to do so, and – can you believe – he’s hopping around the same way. The mood in the crew seems to be excellent. Short before Aosta we’re passing a village called: Penis.
Arriving in Aosta
Tutti Libre is not only a name, but a concept. There is no entrance to be payed. And every drink is 10000 Lira (ca. 6 US$). That means, that not many bears are going around, but many drinks. There is place for about 2000 people. Red sofas and disco lights mark up that sexy flavor in this club. Everything seems to be ok and can happen. It’s almost a bit too vulgar. And the toilets are in such a bad condition, it really takes some extra power to go there (imagine all those 2000 people have to go there too). It’s a latrine without soap, without paper and nothing to dry. No lockable doors without a knob to open it.
My DJ-set is just brilliant, a perfect set for a disco and for dance. I have space enough to dance myself. I’m really looking forward for the session tonight.
You’re wondering, why I do not have any picture of the DJ-sets? I wonder myself, but can you imagine in 1996 every picture I made costs me 50 cent. That’s why I only shot pictures, when I was quite sure, to take something special. And I forgot a lot of special things.
The backstage is nice and Bill Smith and Kirk Thorne are playing with Kirk’s looping machine and Bill’s melodica from Selmer, Paris.
Even the bar crew is laughing about me, I get my boiling water for my herbal tea. Good luck.
Bill Smith with his Honer melodica from Selmer, Paris. Shay and Duncan fooling around while installing for sound check. Shay shows me a vinyl record with a picture of him, when he was younger he was in that band (can’t remember the name). Duncan plays also music in an australian band.
Vin, the WorldBEAT boss is arrived and will attend us for two days.
Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites warming up a bit too long. The trouble is, that the intonation in “Come Dung” wasn’t right the day before. Laurel is such a nice person, but the Skatalites argue against him quite badly. And he’s loosing his natural intonation. That’s why every next try brings a new disaster. The longer they try, the less it works.
The soundcheck endures longer than ever.
At 9 PM the Skasplash show in Aosta will begin. Now it’s a quarter to 10 and I still don’t know if I’m DJ tonight or not.
The warm-up band “Skasters” (not the Marc Foggo’s band!) starts to play. Still there are not many people in the audience. I enjoy my séparée in the DJ-stand. I’m on top of the audience and have a great view onto the stage, but also into the back of the engineers. Oh, ho, they’re just watching a porno. After the warm-up band is finished. I start my set.
0.12 AM: House Of Rhythm is on stage and starts to play. The club is full now. It’s just a great show. Brilliant. It’s really a pity, that this band only exists for 5 weeks. After that tour everybody goes his own way. Dave Nicholson has spent a lot of time with Rolando Alphonso, the two tenor saxophones are coming closer together. And in Dave solo’s I can recognize a little bit of Rolandos phrases.
Before Laurel Aitken enter the stage, I play Apache Indian “Boom Shaka Lack“. And can you imagine, the whole audience is dancing, no hopping around. What to do with it? I’m really not sure, but I can’t take the show. Laurel Aitken is coming soon and the audience can go wild with his show, not with mine.
1.19 AM Laurel’s second tune is “Mad About You” and the club is wild enough already and full up. The ladies are dancing in their sexy dresses and the boys in italian style love it.
Because I’m separated from everything, I take my time to relax while I paint, what is happening in front of me. This following painting is made into my diary, while Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites have been on stage.
I don’t remember when, but the colors came later onto a copy of the original. The original itself is still in the diary and you’ll find it later on this blog. The painting itself means something like the following;
The upper page for Laurel Aitken, the lower page for The Skatalites
- Doreen Shaffer is the sweetest voice of Jamaica
- Lloyd Knibb is the heart beat, the riddim force, the unlimited driving force
- Lloyd Brevett is the ark, the tree, the bass that stands strong, full of roots
- Rolando Alphonso is the tenor, the saxophone that spread out a volcano of notes
- Lester Sterling is the bird of Jamaica, the alto full of smokey notes, the rude and wonderful and the man, that brings people to sing
- Nathan Breedlove is the young leader that blows out love out of his trumpet
- Will Clark is the skabone, 100% jazzy, 100% skanky, 200% trombone
- Devon James is the fast finger guitarist, the real Jamaican
- Bill Smith is the musical doctor the professor of keys and tempo
This painting also shows what tunes have been played, while I was painting:
- Freedom Sounds
- Bridge View
- Man In The Street
- Rockford Rock
The upper page with Laurel Aitken includes:
- Com Dung
- Coocoo Makka stick
Reggae Aitken in Liberty
The original without colors looks like this:
The Skatalites’ show is not documented, but it is my first experience in a club with hundreds of dancing people. It’s amazing how great it feels, to be the one who brings them to move. I’m not sure, if this audience is that kind out of rage, because they only have a little occasions to party or if they just live for parties. It’s peaceful and lovely. They are drunk but no completely. Still it’s plenty full, no gap between no one.
03:30 AM: Everybody is waiting for another encore of The Skatalites.
04:00 AM: The stage is empty, all the stuff fixed in the vans, but where is Kirk Thorne and Tony Looby? Over there in the red light zone of the club there is a lady flirting with Kirk and Tony. Now it’s time to bring them into the van. But Kirk don’t like anybody telling him what to do. I try the easy way. Arguing that everybody is tired and we all want to go. Then is Shay coming and taking them by hand into the van.
But it’s still not finished. No we have to start an odyssey to the hotels. First of all, Shay and Laurel Aitken can take a hotel nearby the club. After that we’re driving to another hotel, where The Skatalites have to move. And then the rest of us are driving up the mountains to a strange hotel called Miravalle.
The white van with Duncan, Barney, House Of Rhythm and myself is arriving in that special hotel, where everybody is asleep. Of course, it’s 5 o’clock in the morning. But now, the first thing I do is sitting on that clean toilet seat, what a comfort.
The next day is already here, when I’m lying in my bed (I have a single room). I write my memories of the day into my diary. In the morning we all find a completely changed house. I’m talking a lot with the hotel owner. She brought all those african stuff inside the hotel.
Overview Aosta, Libre Tutti
- audience: approx. 1500 (capacity approx. 2000)
- catering: nice
- backstage: big, with sofas in the club
- diner: delicious, but with plastic knives and forks
- DJ-set: the whole audience is jumping to Apache Indian, 5 channel-mix with two turn-tables, two cd-players plus microphone, professional equipement
- Local band: Skasters, funny and good warm-up
- HOR: absolutely great
- Laurel Aitken: The Godfather over Italy
- Skatalites: sensational dance band
- hotel: Laurel & Shay in a separate hotel, The Skatalites in another hotel and the rest far away outside the town in a third hotel
- room mate: none
- picking up all the members from all the hotels, then a driving in beautiful weather
The hotel Miravalle maybe have no web or is no more existing. We’ve been there with the crew and HOR and it was a great place to stay, somewhere here:
Website today: not found.
Place of the club: not found.
Come back tomorrow, when we’ve been welcomed very well. And with special guests. Don’t miss it, it’s a scorcher.