Music journalist Gianluca Tramontana recently began a series of radio interviews with musicians in genres spanning jazz, funk, country, bluegrass, and blues. His site, SittingWith.com, features streams and downloads of his insightful and entertaining interviews. We got a chance to catch up with him and ask a few questions about his new project.
Mike Kobrin: When did you first become interested in music, and how did it evolve into your career as an interviewer?
Gialuca Tramontana: I surrendered to the higher power of crotchets, quavers and beats-to-the-bar before I was even old enough to shave, and all I have ever done is talk about music with like-minded people. "Sitting With Gianluca" is really just an extension of that. I invite guests whose art, no matter how sweeping and large, can be distilled down to playing it on a sofa or a porch.
MK: What made you focus on New Orleans musicians?
GT: Of course, the Crescent City fits my agenda perfectly. From rolling brass bands to Fats' pounding beats and Wolfman's howl. From Snooks chopping out three chords to a foot-stomp right on through to the high-octane flash-and-bang of Big Sam's Funky Nation and DumpstaPhunk, N'awlins music is always inclusive and intimate. Wherever and however we listen to it, we are never more than a foot away from the artist.
MK: Where have your interviews been showing up?
GT: As a journalist, I never pass up a chance to write about N'awlins music. I wrote about the Meters for MOJO and Rolling Stone and in the Jazz Fest '08 edition of OffBeat, a piece on Cosimo Matassa and J&M Recording Studios, audio excerpts from which aired on public radio. As a radio host, though, I have the chance to step out of the way and let the artists talk directly to the listener.
MK: Which artists are you using to launch the SittingWith.com site?
GT: My first post is former Cowboy Mouth member and songwriter Paul Sanchez. Paul is one of those old-school troubadours who can write thought-provoking songs but won't ever lose sight of the fact that music is also meant to entertain. Who else could make you sit and and pay full attention to "Wake Up" one minute and then have you drunkenly singing along to "Hurricane Party" the next? Paul sat with me a while back, a year before Mystery Street came out, and I got terrific feedback when it aired on my radio show in the UK. Paul is so interesting, amusing and articulate about his art that there was no way I wasn't going to put the interview online. It is what we call in radio-land "evergreen," or for mere mortals, "timeless."