this article originally ran in the 4.7.11 issue of Metroland
March 29, 2011
The Woman’s Club of Albany
To I’m sure anyone who’s seen him perform, just why guitarist Peppino D’Agostino isn’t some kind of superstar is one of those mysteries that makes one damn the fates, popular taste, the music industry, or all three.
Peppino played Tuesday in the ballroom of The Woman’s Club of Albany, one of those grand buildings near the park on Madison we’ve all driven by a zillion times and wondered “I wonder what goes on in there?”
Guitar slinging, that’s what. Peppino played two generous sets of solo acoustic guitar that was in turns soothing, dazzling and challenging. He was gracious, modest and fun. It doesn’t hurt that he looks like Bryan Ferry’s little brother and speaks with a soft Italian accent. We’re talking the whole package, and the near-capacity audience of about 100 folks was absolutely rapturous from the git.
His selections were literally all over the map---after a few hyper-melodic originals, he turned to an Antonio Carlos Jobim tune, and laced the bossa number with insanely cacophonous grace notes throughout. He played ‘50’s Italian jazz, Sardinian folk music, an Irish dirge, and an Argentinian tango. He used harmonics, a variety of open tunings, he played with just his left hand, just his right hand, and he utilized a whole bunch of strange techniques that may or may not have names for them. He talked about getting fixated on Earl Scruggs-style bluegrass picking as a teenager in Italy, and hilariously played and sang a little bit of an Italian bluegrass song he wrote, and then launched into an orgy of three-finger picking that simply defies description. OK, I’ll try. Fast. Then faster. There was a Beatles medley. He did “Walk Away Renee.” And a pile of originals that were flat-out stunning.
Hats off to impresario Corliss Caroll for bringing Peppino to town and to The Woman’s Club for hosting. The ballroom, with its curved ceiling, parquet floors, and wooden wainscoting just screams “old Albany” and is a fantastic place to experience music. What’s next?