Eight years ago, Tuba Joe & Stefan Zeniuk were playing an underground event in Brooklyn. The event took place on an illegal ferry boat that had been docked in Newtown Creek (an in-land polluted swamp). At that event we met a future friend, and frequent collaborator, violinist Adriana Molello. The event was mysterious, illegal, magical… and ON A BOAT. Now, all these years later, we collaborated on a trip with Adriana, along with Atlas Obscura, called “Hidden Venice with a Psycho-Mambo Twist”, that existed almost entirely on boats. The event involved 5 concerts in 7 days, culminating in the epic and uniquely Venetian Redentore Festival, which is a 450 year old party celebrating the end of the Plague. The guests that came along with us, 7 in total, experienced a uniquely un-touristic view of Venice — following the Venetian schedule of avoiding the main city during the days (where it’s overrun by tourists), they travelled along the outskirts of the city by day, visiting abandoned islands and mysterious places, and returning to the center of the city at night for the concerts and parties (when the locals come out of hiding!).
The people that live in Venice are an odd bunch — a mixture of students (the university there is renowned for art, architecture and languages), people involved in the art world (re: Venice Bienalle) and people that work in the tourism industry. The entire trip was facilitated by our friends Paolo Rosso and Alice Sartori, who run the arts organization Microclima, with whom this was our 4th collaboration in Venice. However, never had we done so many shows, and never had they been so completely epic. One show was in the hidden courtyard of a former Jesuit Monastery; another was on the beach boardwalk (on the Lido); another was an acoustic party split amongst 2 boats, floating through the canals at 10pm, under the stars, surprising lost tourists and locals out for the night, while creating an impromptu acoustic dance party in a random square; an out-door performance on the Zattere, hosted by Tony (and his dog Chio); and of course, playing on the Giudecca, during the Redentore festival, facing (across the corfu) the Basilica di Santa Maria, and ending with the grand fireworks display at midnight. Here is a brief clip of that show :
I would say it goes without saying, Italians have more fun. And in these traumatic and turbulent times, a hashtag arose on instagram and facebook regarding videos and photos of our trip : #lamusicasalveràilmondo (Music will save the world). Who knows — but at least, for a brief period of time, everyone that shared that week with us was able to lose themselves in the strange magic of this city. As much as it seems like it’s turned into a tourist-only “disneyland”, there is still true mystery there, and special moments, small and big, at every turn.
A few mentions — we couldn’t have done this without the good folks at Atlas Obscura trusting in this insane venture (Tao Tao & Megan!); our good friend Darren Morze who was along for the ride, helping with all our sound & gear issues; epic world-adventurer Ashley Shepard; P. Nick Curran for documenting the entire trip; Tony Chiusco for the sandwiches & Spritzes, all of Paolo’s roommates and friends that dealt with us crazy and loud Americans, Crosti & Valeria for the help at Redentore, We_Crociferi for the epic party, and probably 1000 more folks along the way. And of course, old and dear friends and collaborators, Paolo Rosso, Adriana Molello, and now Alice Sartori.