Biography

Marco Fiume (22.03.1972 – 21.03.2002)

….. to remember Marco, a young man, a passionate blues player from Italy, who devoted his life to the

blues.

 

His youth and his formation

Marco was born in Cosenza, 1972, March 22nd, and spent all his childhood in Rossano, the town of his

mother, on the ionic coast in Calabria. When he was 10 years old, he moved with his family to Bologna,

where he achieved his studies. Here, still an adolescent, he began to play guitar and the love for the music

was soon obvious. He first discovered jazz and then blues, through the recordings of the great masters.

Although at first it seemed a simple entertainment, in a short time it became a true passion that pushed him

to be involved more seriously. He began to play occasionally with local groups, like the Blues Bark, and

subsequently with the Soul Spoilers. Dissatisfied with his musical evolution and the local perspectives, Marco

decided to enlarge his musical culture, and with courage stated to leave to America and find the sources of

blues. He visited St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago and other emblematic cities of blues music, and finally

decided to stay in Los Angeles, California, in order to learn directly from his models, the great players of the

mythical West Coast. With great determination he learned and assimilated a culture unrelated to him, but

that he greatly loved and admired. Thus later he was able to play at the same level as the best American

guitar players. Since then, it all began to run in a hurry.

The blues and jazz American players of years '40 and '50 like T-Bone Walker, Johnny “guitar” Watson, BB

King, Tiny Grimes, Charlie Christian and Barney Kessel were Marco's models and primary references. His

passion for this musical genre increased, so that as a tribute to Barney Kessel he wrote an instrumental piece

entitled "Kesseland". Moreover, Marco highly admired a lot of contemporary Californian players such as Kid

Ramos, Charlie Baty, Rick Holmstrom, Alex Schultz and above all his idol, Junior Watson who themselves

were inspired by the black players of years '50. Attracted by Watson and his music, Marco decided to live in

Los Angeles.

The life in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, the city-symbol of West Coast Blues, are all the most important blues clubs, like "Cafe

Boogaloo" at Hermosa Beach and "Cozy's" at Sherman Oaks. In this area live a phenomenal concentration of

great musicians who play blues, jazz, r'n'b, r'n'r and swing, and this attracts Marco. Therefore, living in Los

Angeles and being besides Junior Watson is almost a dream for a young European musician, and thanks to

his determination, from 1998 this dream becomes reality. Then the progression is fast, his musical goal is

realized indeed even beyond his own expectations. In fact, Marco not only gains high esteem and respect

from all the musicians he meets, but he establishes with them deep and important friendship.

In fact, after a few months staying in Santa Monica, Marco already becomes one of the most requested

musicians in Los Angeles area : he plays with Lynwood Slim, Sweet Betty Journey, James Harman, Rod

Piazza, Junior Watson (who has dedicated his last CD : If I had a Genie, to Marco), Rick Holmstrom, Janiva

Magness, Jeff Turmes, Candye Kane, Alex Schultz, Jimmy Morello, Johnny Dyer, Jeff Ross (who has dedicated

his last CD, “My Pleasure” to Marco too), Carl Sonny Leyland, Ronnie James Weber, Robert Lucas, James

Intveld, Randy Beckett and many others. However, to stay in Los Angeles is not a dream, as it may have

seemed from Italy since the competition is hard. In the USA, and above all in Los Angeles it is difficult to live

with the blues only, even playing with the greatest local stars. Even, in the United States, the native land of

the blues and jazz, the choice to play music so far away from the commercial circuit of both the majors and

MTV is a difficult choice and revealing a great passion. Besides the reputation of the places and the excellent

musicians, with the blues no one became rich in no part of the world. Thus Marco must play continuously

with a lot of groups. He goes also to Hollywood, where he poses for photos chosen for the publicity of a car

firm, the KIA. These photos were also used by "Entertainment Studies", the newspaper of the UCLA

(University of California, Los Angeles) and several lnternet magazines, like "Mars Music". Moreover, Marco

increases his ability to build, repair and modify guitars, an activity he already begun in Bologna. His ability

was soon recognized and appreciated by all his musician friends so that still today Rick Holmstrom and many

others play guitars built by Marco. In order to square the budget, he gives guitar lessons – one of his latest

students was actor Gary Oldman – and acts also as musical correspondent of an Italian web-magazine

dedicated to blues music, "Blues Time".

The musical groups

The most personal projects, those where Marco was able to play his favorite style, were the three blues/jazz

bands he started: the "LO-Fi'S", the "Marco Fiume Trio" and the "Trio Loco".

– The LO-Fi’S. Instrumental quartet with Marco on guitar, Ron Dziubla on saxophone, Stevie Utstein on

piano and Donny Gruendler on drums. The LO-Fi' S played nearly every Sunday in a Los Angeles club, the

Liquid Kitty.

From these exhibitions a self-produced CD – rigorously alive at L. Kitty, February, 24, 2002 -, containing 9

tracks he arranged.

It is in this very band where “The Bluesy Side of Jazz” and “The Jazzy Side of Blues” meet, that Marco shows

is great musical personality and is able to show all these different styles in a very clear way.

– With close similar style, Marco formed another band, the MARCO FIUME TRIO, again with Donny

Gruendler on drums but Jeff Turmes on bass. The participation of the last one is very important since Jeff

Turmes is among the most required blues musicians in all of West Coast. Highly talented multi-instrumentalist

(he plays bass, sax, guitar, piano, and sings…!). He was a former member of the James Harman Band for

years, and accompanied artists such as Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton and Jody Williams. Currently he

collaborates with singer Janiva Magness.

The Marco Fiume Trio recorded a demo on September 24 th , 2001 in which we find tracks written and

arranged by Marco: "Kesseland", a tribute to Barney Kessel (one of the musicians who Marco most admired

and whom he had the complete record collection of), "Uno Mas" a Latin track (at first entitled "Marco' s

Mambo") that had been recorded by Rick Holmstrom in 2000 for the Tone-Cool Records label, “Marco’s

Shuffle", a lively winning piece and eventually, "Get-O", written with Jeff Turmes and Donny Gruendler.

– Marco takes part to another instrumental trio, the TRIO LOCO, a group including Ronnie James Weber on

double bass and the great pianist Carl Sonny Leyland, an extraordinary boogie-woogie soloist who used to

appear in the largest European jazz and blues festivals. The collaboration between Marco and Carl Sonny

Leyland was remarkable, leading to a 5 tracks demo.

– Recently Marco played with several other bands, like HOLLYWOOD COMBO, a group which proposes a mix

of swing, rock & roll, rhythm & blues according the style of years '40 and '50, and BLUE SHADOWS, another

blues band which usually performed in the famous King King Club in Hollywood. With this group, a live

session was recorded right there at the King King, on March 18th, 2002.

– However the group Marco played more regularly with (from August 26 th , 1999 until December 31 st , 2001)

was the CANDYE KANE Band, the Californian singer whose voice was defined by the Washington Post "a

natural wonder like the Grand Canyon". The "Chicago Tribunes" included his CD "The Toughest Girl Alive"

among the first Ten Best CDs of the year.

Discography – Chronology of the Marco records

 Sweet Betty Journey – "They Call Me Sweet Betty" – JSP Records 1997 – JSPCD2101.

 Harmonica Shorty and the Taildraggers – Northside Records 1998 – recorded at The House,

Hollywood.

 Candye Kane – "The Toughest Girl Alive" – Buliseye Blues & Jazz – Rounder Records 2000. Marco plays

on “Let’s commit adultery”, a piece without piano, unusual in Candye's discography, allowing more

space for Marco’s guitar playing.

 Rick Holmstrom – "Gonna Get Wild" – Tone Cool Records 2000. Rick Holmstrom is one of the most

representative personalities of the west coast blues. He is an extraordinary talent, who played and

recorded since the ‘90s with harp player Johnny Dyer, then for many years with Rod Piazza's group the

Mighty Flyers. Marco played guitar on “Wiggle Stick” with the group: obviously Rick Holmstrom, guitar

and vocals, Rod Piazza harmonica, Honey Piazza piano, Bill Stuve bass and Steve Mugalian drums – that

is, the complete Mighty Flyers! – In this CD Holmstrom plays also his instrumental composition as

tribute to the creative vein of Marco, recording his blues-mambo "Uno mas" with a super-group with

Rick Holmstrom on guitar, Junior Watson on bass (yes, Junior himself!) and Steve Mugalian on drums.

 Pacemaker & The Blue Vanguards, drummer Bob Newham's group – “Tales from the basin "- of

2001, self-produced. Marco has participated to two tracks on this CD, in which Bob Newham takes

advantage of the collaboration of great musicians like Junior Watson, Rick Holmstrom, San Pedro Slim

and Johnny Dyer.

Concerts, tours and Festivals

Marco played in particular in Los Angeles area Clubs, steadily at the Liquid Kitty, Cafe Boogaloo, Cozy' s, Blue

Café, King King in Hollywood, The Derby, Down Beat, and with Candye Kane to the "Croce’s" in San Diego.

With Candye Kane's Band Marco has participated in more than 200 shows in several States of the USA,

including the “Waterfront Blues Festival” in Portland, shows in Savannah, Georgia, all of Florida, New York,

Key West, San Francisco, New Orleans, San Diego, Santa Fe, El Paso and in many other cities. He came back

to Europe during summer of 2000 with the "Candye Kane Band", to play the most prestigious and important

Festivals like the "Belgium Rhythm 'n' Blues Festival" in Peer (Belgium) and the Festival "Blues Passions" held

in Cognac. In addition, in Cognac, Mark took part to Jimmy Morello's memorable concert, alternating lead-

guitar with Alex Schultz. It is just during these tours and particularly at the Cognac Festival that he started

being appreciated in France. Here he participated to "The Donnie and Marie" television show with Candye's

band.

The musical style

The musical style of guitar playing is fine and sophisticated but at same time incisive and dragging, strongly

marked by either the most genuine blues and more sophisticated jazz and R’n’B than in the years '40 and '50.

The two fundamental souls of the Marco’s style were by one side, an extraordinary love for the classic

Chicago Blues, in particular that of years '50 (Jimmy Rogers, Louis Myers, Robert Lockwood, etc.), together

with a tendency to a typical jazz approach, as players like Bill Jennings, Floyd Smith, Tiny Grimes, and above

all the best one, Charlie Christian. On the other hand, all this was effective thanks to a very strong sense of

swing that always accompanied his performances. The peculiarity that all the musicians appreciated and

found playing with Marco was the stylistic coherence, is own style. In fact, he always kept his artistic purity,

developing a way to play without compromises blues and jazz, light years away from the useless virtuosity

too frequent in a lot of contemporary musicians playing. In a few words, he played only and exclusively what

he wanted and the way he wanted. When he played live, he was not a “safe” player. He always “went for it”

with passion and gusto, and you could really feel the music he was making. This is especially evident in much

of the LO-Fi’S live material. This was his baby and where the “Bluesy side of Jazz” and “The Jazzy side of

Blues” met, he shone exceptionally bright.

Another fundamental step of the complex evolution of his style is represented by the search of the tone.

Marco was undoubtedly one of the Italian guitar players who most devoted great attention to the quality of

sound. Moreover, he was an exceptional experimenter, and the continuous search for new instruments

allowed him to obtain the tone he wished, that ‘old, round and soft sound ', he could hear in his favorite

records. In fact, he played practically every type of guitar, obviously preferring the 'vintage' models that

suited more to his style. His preferred guitar was perhaps an old acoustic Harmony dated from the '50s that

he bought from Junior Watson. Eventually, Marco was a record collector and deeply knew all forms of Afro-

American music.

About Marco as a singer a tape remains that was recorded during the “Radio Città 103” show, in Bologna, on

November 27 th , 1998, where he is interviewed and, together with his group, he plays and sings live "Kinky

Woman" (Jimmy Vaughan), "Motorhead Baby" (Johnny Watson) and "I'm a Fool" (Bihari re-arranged).

As Rick Holmstrom put it, “People were just beginning to realize how good Marco was”. Certainly he was

destined to join Rick and the rest of his heroes as one of the top guitarists on the West Coast….